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Any use for a bunch of styrofoam?

 
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I have several contractor bags full of styrofoam. I wish I didn't.  Big and medium sized pieces. I thought I would figure out how to recycle them, but it seems like the resources it would take to get them to a place where they probably wouldn't really be recycled anyway are rather absurd. Can it be used for anything? Insulation? Any ideas and thoughts welcome.
 
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Depending on what they are shaped like, yes they can insulate things. Styrofoam is not a good thing, but it's a thing that is around and free and so I use it. If it is covered well to keep it from sunlight and air flow, and to constrain the breakdown, it's useful for a while. Which, in my eyes, is better than letting it be trash immediately, I consider reusing better than the landfill, which are the options here.

The trick is to cover it well. Depending on what you are doing there are many ways to do that. Put some thought into it from that angle, and see what you come up with.

I'm currently in a rental with serious draft issues, and I'm putting sheets of styrofoam on wall sections that are the worst offenders, and covering them with strong fabric, or pieces of linoleum type flooring. We had a storm the other day, and I checked the areas that are done, and they are working well. Not the best solution in the world, but what I can do with what I have available that I can afford. My cash outlay on this project has been the price of fasteners, that's it. And if it cuts the heating bills this year, it's worth it.
 
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Insulation is the only thing I would use it for. Like Pearl says though, cover it well. In addition to it breaking down in UV, etc., around here we have wasps that burrow into it to nest. Wouldn't be surprised if there are other bugs that get into it as well.
 
pollinator
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it is commonly used as floats for aquaculture planting. not sure what drawbacks there would be, as i have no firsthand experience though...
 
pollinator
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Some options that come to mind:
1) As others have said, insulation (maybe chop up and mix it in with attic insulation if it's too small for anything else.
2) Can be used as a concrete additive to provide insulation and make it lighter weight.  (I believe Aircrete Harry uses it in his "epic" mix)
3) Can be melted down with acetone and poured into sand to get a realistic artificial skin texture.  I've heard of this being used to cover prosthetics in 3rd world countries (eg making a wooden hand or leg seem more realistic).  If you're into halloween you could make some scary stuff too, I'm sure.
4) Can be glued up and carved into shapes using a simple hot-wire foam cutter for making diorama/model railroad scenery. (example)
5) Similar to 4, you can make a shape, place into a sand mold, and cast your own metal parts!  (Google for "lost foam casting") (example)
 
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Someone on here posted about making a strong glue from styrofoam and acetone.
I am considering styro-concrete for the rear of my greenhouse.
I like the idea because it would be trapped.
Loose beads of styrofoam would ended up in the soil in 20 years, when my creations are torn down.
 
pollinator
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I have used polystyrene dissolved to make a really strong "glue" for various repairs. It worked particularly well repairing my poly bee hives, as the solvent partially dissolved the contact surface and made for a really strong bond. I didn't have acetone, so use a small amount of petrol. Less than ideal, but it worked really well and was left outdoors to vent for a few weeks before painting over.

I can see it being used to make other repairs, or even with a mould to make small solid items.
 
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It's really really good for table top game terrain crafting. Especially the insulation foam which is usually pink or green, as opposed to white.

If you know any avid dungeons and dragons game masters or wargamers ask if they're interested.
 
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Stacking the foam and gluing the layers together allows you to make a large 3D carvable block that can be used for sculptural armatures. The dried form can be a utilitarian object, like an ottoman or a platform bed, or something artistic like a sculpture or bathroom mirror frame. Once carved, the object must be covered with fabric as in the fireplace project below, or foil leaf sheets (I have made picture frames using this method) or fiberglass.
Today I am making a new removable fireplace opening cover. The pillow in the kiva-style fireplace looked kind of shabby so I'm reworking the plug and facing. If I had some of that foam board, I would glue them into a 2' x 2' x 6" thick board, somewhat larger than the opening. I would then sculpt the jagged edge with a long bladed knife to fit the curvy fireplace opening.
Because I don't have any styrofoam scraps, I'm making the thick board by gluing cardboard layers and spacers for air. A carvable foam block would be so much easier! The decorative cover, in either case, comes from a funky old canvas apron sourced at the thrift.
 
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Hi,

Google local recycling plants for Styrofoam, My brother working installing electronic products and his company recycles it at a local site where it get turned into materials to make building pads!
 
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In the US, there are not many recycling facilities for Styrofoam unfortunately.  I researched it a long while back and essentially, it takes a LOT of styrofoam to justify recycling.  And I mean a LOT.  

Figure basic styrofoam weighs about 50 Kg / cubic meter.  It would take 21 cubic meters of styrofoam to make 1 cubic meter of reprocessed polystyrene.  So a full 53' semi-truckload of styrofoam would be about 98 cubic meters (if 100% optimized, unlikely) and would result in just 4.7 cubic meters of reprocessed polystyrene.  Factor in the freight and processing costs and unless you have a very streamlined setup with a steady supply of styrofoam to feed into the system, it's just not economical.

The better option is to petition for manufacturers to stop using styrofoam and use other, more substainable packaging materials.  Cardboard inserts can be just as effective and are much more readily recyclable and is much more sustainable.
 
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:it is commonly used as floats for aquaculture planting. not sure what drawbacks there would be, as i have no firsthand experience though...



I would reconsider using Styrofoam for aquaculture . There is so much of it in the oceans/beaches. Ducks seem to get into it.


In all honesty i would suggest not using it in water at all.

Wood floats, i am sure there are other ways to float plants....

 
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Quick project involving styrofoam: draft snakes! One can use some used fabric in a long tube shape (like an old pant leg) filled with styrofoam placed against the opening under doors, to block drafts under the door when trying to keep a space well-heated. Just another idea to add to the pot- doesn't necessarily have to be a very complicated idea to provide some insulation help.
 
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