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Alternatives to Cement Sidewalks  RSS feed

 
Bryan Bryce
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Just wondering if anyone has tried to build a cob sidewalk? Would it stand up in a snowy region? What are some other alternatives to cement sidewalks?
 
John Elliott
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Sure, it's called living in Mexico.

The way that people take care of their dirt in Mexico, sweeping it and tossing water on it to "keep the dust down" results in what is pretty much a "cob sidewalk". What they don't do is to add lime to the water that they toss every morning as they are tidying up their patch of dirt. The more calcium that you add to the dirt, the quicker it turns into cob, and the harder it gets. In places with a lot of dirt roads, it's a common practice to scratch in some lime to harden up the soil. Do it often enough and you end up with a surface layer of caliche, which can be concrete like in its properties.

Of course, during the rainy season all bets are off. If you get long and steady rains, the lime can slowly dissolve and leach out and run off someplace lower in elevation. Which means at the start of the dry season, you may have to do the lime trick all over again. It would be kind of the same story for snowy regions; all would be fine while the ground was frozen, but during the spring thaw, if the ground stays wet enough for the calcium to leach out, then all you are going to be left with is soft mud instead of hardened cob.
 
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