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Posts: 182
Location: Long Beach, CA
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If you were turning a large garden shed - the kind you can buy at the big box home improvement stores - into a tiny house, how would you insulate it without using petro based products?
 
pollinator
Posts: 10118
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Every commercial product is petro-based, so anything you can buy at the store is immediately disqualified. 

Stuff you can grow:

straw  http://www.planetaryrenewal.org/ipr/insulation.html
feathers
wool
cattail fluff
 
Posts: 192
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get loads of free wood chips delivered and pack around all the sides but the door?
 
                        
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well   there is also cellulose..It's been used forever.  Behind the plaster and lath walls of very old houses there is often either old newspaper or sawdust. Now it's a bit more sophisticated and less prone to rodents and fire hazard. It has stuff added to it to accomplish that so it won't be  entirely chemical free but it isn't petroleum based by any means.

The stuff that follows all comes from Green Home Builders  site :


A: There are a lot of options for floor and ceiling insulation, and many are nontoxic and fairly environmentally friendly. Here are some of the most environmentally and people friendly options, listed in approximate order of desirability:
1. Recycled cellulose insulation made from newsprint and treated with boric acid as a flame retardant and insect repellent
2. Wool insulation
3. Cotton insulation, made from recycled blue jeans (I don't know if they add any toxic binders).
            * * *
A Canadian manufacturer that is making a foundation insulation made from rock wool. It is called Roxul, if memory serves me correctly. Rock wool, of course, is made from rock. I hear that it is quite water resistant and provides good insulation. It requires no CFCs, formaldehyde or HCFCs in its production"

end of quote.

There is also this stuff made from..basically..mushrooms.. ..I looked at it a couple of years ago and it wasn't yet on the market, maybe it is now
http://www.popsci.com/environment/article/2009-05/green-styrofoam
(There's probably a better link, I just took the first one that came along)

People are mixing straw or sawdust with clay and a little bit of borax (same stuff as Mule Team laundry product) and using that. The clay sticks everything together and both the clay and the borax help prevent  unwanted visits by pests and/or fire.  Might be a bit space gobbling though, for a tiny house.
 
            
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Has anyone tried the straw/clay method? Care to share any info?  I want to insulate a 2x6 framed barn this way.
 
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
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I would use wool, it is mostly fireproof unlike most other natural fibers and relatively inexpensive also when  your roof leaks it loses less insulation value than many fibers ( also why I prefer wool winter wear)

I do worry about fire hazards a bit much but i try to avoid sleeping surrounded by stuff i would use to start fires
 
                            
Posts: 126
Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
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The blow-in cellulose insulation is repulped paper treated with boric acid and/or borax to keep the bugs out and make it fire resistant.  There are recipes on the net for DIY recipes.  Also look into papercrete.

I would not recommend any natural fiber that has not been treated to make it fire and bug proof.  Somebody mentioned lightclay or strawclay.  If you get the mix right, it is supposed to be fire resistant, but I'm not sure about bugs.  A lot would depend on what bugs and other vermin you have in the area.

Keep warm.


 
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