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Monday, April 25, 2011

Homemade insulation for your walls



A friend is purchasing an older home. Not knowing the condition or type of insulation (if any), I suggested making insulation from fabric or newspaper that had been soaked in a solution of boric acid. Insulation for home walls needs three qualities: insect/vermin resistance, fire resistance, and mold resistance. Boric acid provides these qualities.

The cellulose insulation made from shredding paper or blue jeans is more expensive than the pink insulation. But, making it yourself would be a step toward self-sufficiency and easier on the wallet. Granted, you cannot start buying blue jeans or newspaper and do this cheaply. You will have to collect them. Tearing out and doing a section at a time might be the best solution. However, that depends on how many people collect for you and how many people 'volunteer' for your project.

Even though boric acid will kill bugs, it will not have the same effect on humans. This project might just be perfect for insulating a small room or a shed. As a whole-house application, it will be time-consuming. But, so are many things we choose to do ourselves.

Read this study about the efficacy of boric acid in homemade insulation. It seems boric acid treated fabric or paper does all you need insulation to do.

Since we are being poisoned by so many things in our lives, maybe we could stop the fiberglass invasion of our bodies.

Here is another article for any of us who want to do it ourselves instead of playing with fiberglass.  Mother Earth News has an article on insulation making. It suggests using a piece of equipment, a hammermill, to get the paper into a fine powder. Hmmm, people say they insulate by just stuffing newspaper or blue jeans into wall cavities--untreated materials. Treated home made insulation would be my only choice. Is it possible that the fiber does not have to be ground so small? After all, there is more to insulating a space than the density of the material. If I need insulation, I will try the boric acid method, minus the hammermill.

If you want to try this, by all means start collecting materials now. However, at least once a month make/soak/dry your material in boric acid. Otherwise, your stash of jeans and/or newspapers will just harbor vermin and insects, not exactly the goal.

Your turn
Have you ever used boric acid to make paper or fabric for insulation?  Were you satisfied?

13 comments:

  1. This is the first I've heard of this! We have to insulate a floor which will be exposed in areas. I'll look into this. Seems to me that grinding down to such small particles would just encourage settling of the insulation over time, which happens with the older foam insulation. I'm with you on trying this minus the hammermill.

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  2. Small pieces, packed tightly, should work. I am thinking that taking the blue jean legs and packing with small, treated scraps would provide great insulation. Of course, the area around the legs would need to be packed tightly, also. You could always use the blender to further grind the small scraps. But, I imagine it would wear out the blender. Good luck.

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    1. What about stuffing the blue jean legs or plastic bags rolled up and then wrap with foil for fire resistance?

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    2. Sorry. Forgot to include that stuff with sand instead of scraps. Sand would not burn in case of fire

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    3. Patty,
      Good ideas. Foil and sand could have their places, for sure.

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  3. Good grief, that's just too much work and too much junk sitting around for me. When my roof was replaced a couple of years ago, I took advantage of the opportunity to have lots of insulation blown into the attic. It all happened in one day, and I've enjoyed the benefits ever since. I really don't know how that job could have been accomplished piecemeal. This is something that I might be able to use when building a chicken house, though. I wonder if the boric acid would repel the northern fowl mite? Hate those little things.

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  4. DIY projects are not for everyone. The person who took on this job would have to have a place for storage, in the house out. That person would have to tolerate the sitting around of stuff and the time it takes to accomplish the goal. I refuse to make bread because it annoys me to think of it. I will make it in a bread machine, maybe.

    Try diatomaceous earth for the mites. Make sure you don't get the heated stuff made for swimming pools. If your hens can dust themselves, they can get rid of mites. You have to use the DE inside their nests and house and yard. Boric acid would work. They would probably eat it, so I don't know. It will not hurt them to eat the DE. I put it on their food to control worms in their bodies and eggs I am going to eat.

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  5. I'm not that convinced about the need for small pieces so much as the " pack tightly" part. I imagine that crumbling the newspaper and stuffing pant legs with them could work well. I'm thinking about the bagged insulation....they are dense and whole. I'd need to read alot more about the topic before stubbornly sticking to my " lazy mans way" of doing something like this though:)

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  6. I agree with the further research and thinking it through. However, properly-treated and tightly-stuffed, almost-free insulation is better than no insulation. Isn't the bagged insulation meant to be blown? I am a bit ignorant on this subject of blown insulation. However, it does just lie there. Thanks for the observation. Lazy is not always bad...lol.

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  7. Insulation made the differance in our farm house this year. Last year, even with a wood stove, we had to sleep near the stove in winter. This year, that one wood stove heats two floors.We have those bags under our kitchen floor, and we just place them in the bag. There might be another kind that is blown, but I don't know. The question to find out and I'm curious about is the R factor of this DIY project and what can be done to increase it. Even a lower R factor is still going to be better than nothing.

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  8. Do you mean you take bags of insulation that is the kind that is blown and put it under the floor? No blowing of the blow kind? I think one of the articles told the R factor. But, the R factor might be dependent on how good a job and how thick it is placed. If you find out, let me know, please. Or, pass it on in a post of your own and I link to mine and I will make sure your post gets noticed here...lol. Right now, I live in a home with no insulation and rain coming through the ceilings, so I would like any kind of insulation!

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