I built a garage for an old screenprinting business I used to have a while back - and I came across some sheep's wool which I used as insulation. It got me thinking earlier about the long term durability of the stuff. As far as I know, nothing has eaten away at the wool nor has it decayed/spoiled in the few years it has been up between the walls.
Is there any risk to using sheep's wool as a long term insulation in a house? Is it renowned for any bugs eat away at it, considering it is an organic material? Can it be dangerous for the inhabitants? It seems like the perfect solution for somebody building their own home - just have small flock of sheep and slowly harvest your wall insulation
Sheep's wool is flammable (and stinky) if lanolin is not washed out. Without the lanolin it is slightly flame retardant. Wool moth larvae will damage it, and I suspect earwigs might too, but I'm not sure. Technically, the wool moth larvae eat particles that are ON the wool, and supposedly won't damage clean wool.
moths eat wool. hence the historical need for mothballs and cedar chests.
Too bad you can't use sheep's wool to insulate your place. In theory it's a great idea.
First to address some of the above quoted comments?
Wool can be treated or processed so you don't need to keep it in naphthalene (mothballs) all the time.
It is used as insulation, and has been for thousands of years. Most traditional Ger and Yurt use wool felt to insulate. The issue with wool is it requires a lot of processing to get it to a stage where you can effectively use it. I believe there are Australian companies doing just that. Good luck in your research and let us know what you find.
Mice LOVE it. Of course, they will destroy any insulation.
You could dust it with borax and diatomacious earth. That is bug repellent and some additional fireproofing. Same basic treatment done to paper to make cellulose insulation.
It is a horrendous among of work by hand, but you might be able to find shorts and seconds to make the price right.
Use hot water a couple drops of Dawn (or other mild) dishsoap in a bathtub sized container. We used a small stock tank and a boat oars to stir it GENTLY. It is really easy to overdo it and felt it into a giant mess.
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Everything "bad" about sheep's wool can also be said about shredded cellulose. So, in order to use it as insulation, do the same thing that they do to make cellulose into insulation: Treat it with Boron.
Boron is effectively harmless unless you eat it. I hear it tastes severely mettalic and because of that bugs and rodents won't eat it.
Boron also makes the insulation more fire-retardant. (It also makes it Nuclear-Fallout resistant)
HOW to treat it with Boron is something I don't know, though. I would have to look up the industrial process. It could be as simple as soaking the wool in a Borax-water solution then air drying.
Thanks for all the great replies, it has given me lots to think about.
I was not aware about the historical use of cedar chests due to wool products being mothbitten - i'm a city dweller with no traditional skills passed down to me, so I'm starting afresh with everything in the natural world, aside from fishing skills. Good to know.
I'd be a bit apprehensive about using Borax/Boron based things, just because it'd be great if I could stick to using things not industrially processed when possible, but if that is the best option (from what a few people have said) then maybe it is an avenue I need to explore.
I'll be having a look around for companies in Aus that process wool, and also comment on their 'natural' rating - wether or not they are treated with industrially produced chemicals/natural ingredients etc.
We are considering using wool for insulation in the floor of our yurt. I have been reading up on how to keep the moths out of it and one source says to wash and dry it then put it in plastic bags and use though for insulation. Anyone tried this?
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