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controlling mold in structures organically  RSS feed

 
bob day
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Location: Central Virginia USA
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I have been working with a mold challenge in an earth integrated structure i've been playing with--the temporary roof covering leaked enough to let in lots of water but not enough so i knew what was happening, then suddenly one time i returned and humidity and mold seemed to be everywhere--anyway, i finally noticed the leak and was cleaning light mold off drywall on a pretty regular basis,, center of the leak was where mold kept recurring the fastest

i made an extraction of black walnut hulls in isopropyl alcohol and started wiping down the mold with rags dipped in this extraction, and there is a marked reduction/total elimination(?) in recurrence of the mold

the area i wiped with the solution was the one where the drywall was wettest (unpainted) and the mold was strongest--other areas i have wiped with rosemary oil water and mold was a little inhibited, but the black walnut treated area seems to have been stopped pretty good

ive also started to mix the alcohol extract with water based paints and have treated one small area so far and am hoping this proves to be a way to control mold even when walls and ceilings are continuously saturated with water--note that this will cause discoloration --darkening - of surfaces and paints, but it's better than mold or really toxic chemicals

i used isopropyl for the extraction because it was cheapest to buy--for a more renewable home brew, ethanol would be a superior extraction and that would be what i would use for any personal health applications

 
Brian Knight
Posts: 554
Location: Asheville NC
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Hi Bob, neat trick. Walnut hulls are pretty toxic stuff so I wonder if you might be exposing yourself to things worse than conventional cleaning products. That said, Iam tempted to try it in my inadequately vented bathroom where I sometimes get mold on the walls.

Iam sure you agree but have to point out that the proper way to control mold is to prevent the conditions in the first place. Poor bulk water management details are the most common reasons for mold and people that have little building experience make mistakes in this area often. It takes a lot of skill and experience to properly flash a chimney or window and even pros can screw it up.

Proper grading, damproofing, waterproofing and drainage are all enforced by building codes for good reasons. Serious issues can arise when people experiment and skimp on the details. Not saying you have, sounds like your problem is from a roof leak which all builders have experienced at some point. Just want people to be aware that proper water management details and ventilation should be the main focus in preventing mold.
 
pahanna barineau
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i think perhaps Brian is referring to the plant ricin is made from being the creosote bush? i have made and drank walnut hull tea for parasite and fungus issues, it does not taste good however, i was raised in a house built in the 1920's and about 1 foot from the ground on the backside, i remember twice when i was a kid in the 1950's waking up and the floor being covered with termites and my mom vacuuming them up
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I like the idea of a walnut hull extract...in the past I have used black walnut hulls for a natural dye and made an extract with walnut leaves in vinegar for something I have tried plain apple cider vinegar for a patch of mold...ours was also from an undiscovered leak and on drywall. I think I will make up a black walnut hull/vinegar extract when the nuts are ready this fall and give it a try...I am not concerned with staining that particular wall.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5859
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
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pahanna barineau wrote:i think perhaps Brian is referring to the plant ricin is made from being the creosote bush? i have made and drank walnut hull tea for parasite and fungus issues, it does not taste good however, i was raised in a house built in the 1920's and about 1 foot from the ground on the backside, i remember twice when i was a kid in the 1950's waking up and the floor being covered with termites and my mom vacuuming them up


I am fairly certain ricin is derived from castor beans and yes, deadly toxic. But there are plenty of levels of toxicity in different plant materials...not all necessarily dangerous.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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While they are energy hogs, a good dehumidifier will work wonders. Better than having to tear down a structure, anyway. Woodstoves cranked way up will offer similar benefits.

Ozone machines are also effective for killing mold spores throughout a building, though you don't wanna run them when you are in the building.

When I used to live in FL, the central air guys recommend Chlorine Dioxide (marketed as vital oxide) as a low-toxicity mold abatement strategy. My wife is chemically sensitive, and the chlorine dioxide did not bother her. Some people have taken chlorine dioxide internally as a remedy for cancer or infectious diseases, but the FDA does not approve.

Mold in a building is nasty stuff, can get bad enough to kill you. It is my greatest fear related to natural building. I've been in several too many moldy natural buidlings, mostly straw bale. What's the point of natural building if the building ends up toxic?

 
Renate Howard
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Location: zone 6b
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Increasing air circulation is recommended for mold problems in underground houses. I imagine that depends on the natural humidity of your area, tho, because here it's always 93-98% humidity in the mornings and evenings.

In PA our air conditioner broke one year. We got mold on our furniture, walls, even drapes just from the humidity in the air. It was nasty.

We had to hire mold remediation experts to clean mold from our basement and certify it before we could sell it (that mold was from water seeping in under a poorly installed replacement door). It cost a couple thousand and they used hydrogen peroxide to kill the mold then painted over the areas with paint that had some additive to prevent mold. Little known fact, but a dry chemical becomes hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water. That's the main ingredient in the Oxy Clean products. So you can mix up some Oxy Clean and apply that to kill your mold. The peroxide breaks down quickly so you need to make fresh batches after about half an hour if you haven't finished yet.

Some organic friends recommended Thieves Oil to kill mold. It's made from essential oils and they go airborne and kill mold in the places you weren't able to penetrate as well. I tried clove and cinnamon oil instead of the whole blend and it worked great on the furniture, but oxyclean was far cheaper and also worked well. You have to let it sit awhile to work, it's not instant.
 
bob day
Posts: 352
Location: Central Virginia USA
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i suppose anything in excessive amounts can be problematic, and most people would only use walnut extract for athletes foot or other external uses (using drinking alcohol not isopropyl) but black walnut is a recommended herb for yeast infections internally so i doubt secondary exposure would be a problem,,the isopropyl is probably the worst part of the concoction

and i do agree, half assed coverings are for the birds--i had two layers of 6 mil poly sheeting on the "roof" and a very heavy tarp with a seam down the middle--the seam opened up and both layers of poly were compromised--i put the seam back together and all is much drier now-- i do need to install a vent fan in the bathroom or that will be my next challenge-- most of the drywall in there is mold resistant but still it's better to keep the humidity down everywhere
 
ali fuat gokce
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you can use slaked lime to paint molded area. If humidity continues it is not a definitive solution but cope much better and longer than any chemical in the market.; even from hipochloride.
Only handicap is wall becomes white.
Mix slaked lime with water and paint area with a brush.
If lime is available only ; mix water and lime and wait until chemical reaction ends. Now you have slaked lime.
 
bob day
Posts: 352
Location: Central Virginia USA
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Just a quick update, BW treated area is still holding good, but other areas treated with a dilution of rosemary not doing too well, and mold returning in those areas like gangbusters

mixed up some bulls eye 123 primer (zinsser product) with equal amount of extract and proceeding to treat rest of ceiling-- wiping it on with a sponge very frugally

looking like a lighter version of the extract with some whiter streaks.. i'll still be able to monitor for any mold return the rest of the summer, but i expect this will be a final mold treatment and next step will just be to paint

 
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