Skip to comments.Something "Green" That May Be Worthwhile
Posted on 12/07/2011 8:30:41 AM PST by ferrgus
So, I just discovered a product called "strawboard." Apparently it's been used in Europe for 40+ years, but it's kinda new in the US.
Some sources say that a typical house requires about an acre's worth of clear-cut timber, which would take about 30 years to replace. That same house (according to these sources) could be built using 18 acres of straw -- which is a waste product from wheat production.
I've been searching, but I haven't found any serious problems with using strawboard. Presumably, it doesn't hold up as well to moisture as traditional wood does, but I don't know that for sure.
Anyone have any experience with this stuff?
This brings to mind a story about three little pigs.
3 little pigs.
Wood works just fine and there’s plenty of it.
Build housing with more steel and iron and cement and then use this stuff as insulation.
With the home heating costs the way they are I’m tempted to order a truckload of hay and stack it all around my house.
—The compressed panels are then covered with 100% recycled ...paper—
Recycled paper is environmentally unfriendly. There are a lot of chemical processes that go into the recycling of paper that are absent from the manufacture of “new” paper. And the wood from which paper is created is harvested much as we harvest corn.
Recycling makes a lot of sense sometimes (like old cars and coke cans). Other times, it’s just a way to get a tax credit or government loan.
[ With the home heating costs the way they are Im tempted to order a truckload of hay and stack it all around my house. ]
Make sure you pay your local fire department 75 bucks....
Sounds like a cheaper version of OSB - oriented strand board.
I can’t say anything directly to your purpose about strawboard. I will say that some European farms went overboard with their modernizing. I first ran into liquid cow manure being spread on the fields in Germany, and it was decades later before it arrived around here in New England. It is loaded into big tanker trucks and sprayed on the fields. It is generally agreed by purists that it is NOT the best way to fertilize fields, that a lot of the nutrients are lost, and that chemicals are sometimes added.
It is mostly the result of large-scale factory farming, with the manure drained off into lagoons to get it off the concrete barn floors more automatically. The older alternative was to use straw as “bedding” in the stalls or milking parlors. The manure and urine (also a valuable fertilizer) went into the bedding, where the nutrients were far better preserved. Then when the bedding was properly aged, it was forked up and spread back on the fields, which prevented the gradual loss of nutrients over the years.
Straw bedding might be six inches or a foot deep. That retained the value of the fertilizer much better, and also was comfortable for the cows, horses, sheep, etc., to stand or lie on. And the straw itself provided value when it went back into the topsoil.
In other words, I doubt whether converting straw to building materials is the best way to preserve the fertility of pastures.
This use of straw bedding applies mostly to family farms, with fewer than a hundred cows or so. But returning from factory farms to family farms would benefit our country and our land, and perhaps eventually undo the agricultural subsidies, ethanol subsidies, and all the rest of the big government interference and waste that reward big political donors and undermines family farming.
Don’t know about which sources are being used, but I think an acre of timber is pretty extreme. Modern construction uses materials in a pretty efficient manner. OSB (orientated Strand Board) is a good example.
That said, I’ve seen ‘cobb’ and straw bale houses that are really solid and well insulated. I’ve been in a couple of structures at least as solid as my pre-WW2 lathe and plaster home which is framed with true 2 inch by 4 inch redwood boards.
Wood has its primary advantage being inexpensive, light in weight to transport and easily modified at the site.
I’ve seen it. A compny in Richmond makes it and my BD guy wants to use it to build schools in Africa. It’s pretty cool.
When I was young, straw was used almost exclusively for livestock bedding and fertilizer after it had served its use as bedding.
Balance was quite important-- too much straw on the fields yielded too much carbon and was not good for the crops. Too little defeated the purpose of using it as a fertilizer.
There was occassional trading between farmers who had too many animals and those who had too few to achieve the right mix. But far more common was to stack and burn the excess used straw in the fall. The ash reduced the carbon, converted it potash and had just the right amount of nitrogen for spreading on the fields.
It was a good combination used for generations, but I found that it applied mostly to large livestock (sheep/pig size and above).
I once did it with chicken straw. Poultry manure is so high in nitrogen, that the straw pile burned for three days. It also had to be spread a lot thinner on the crops to avoid nitrogen burning. Needless to say, burning doesn't release a pleasant odor and it is best done when the prevailing winds are blowing away from your neighbors.
I gather she heats it with a C size battery ~ (actually, not much more than that ~ you have to use triple glazed windows of course).
Just in case it gets really cold she also has an in ground heat exchanger hooked up to an ordinary forced air system..
Are you referring to MDF? That’s been around for over a dozen years that I’ve used it. It’s heavy but great stuff around kids as its straw-based material does not leave any slivers, though it makes a lot of dust in cutting. It’s a bit heavierthan plywood and as it has no “grain”, you simply need to forecast how you want to assemble with it - you drill a hole or screw through it, not really into it, especially not sideways.
It absorbs water and swells like particle board, but polyuretane it and it stays looking “wet” and is perfect for computer tables for the kids (the edges will never give a sliver.
You don’t sand it, but take the fuzzy edge off after cutting by using a rasp or file.
I make things out of wood, like a frame for a computer table, then put the RMD across the top and another across the back for egg-crating.
Great for work benches too.
In Michigan it was much cheaper than plywood (half-inch is very useful) but a few years later (inflation) and in Maryland it is now more expensive than plywood and not as available (could be it’s expensive to ship here or the price has gone up).
Not for exterior. If you make a box with it, just use wood for the four inner posts or triangles to screw into and it’s very strong.
My boys drew outlines of full size M-16’s on a sheet and we cut them out - they loved them! When the tips broke off via bending (not a strong suite), I glued popsicle sticks to either side to hold it together....breaks like particle board but not glue-able at the break due to being like “paper”.
It’s very smooth purchased so no need to sand either side.
I love the stuff for what it’s great for.
Soaks kerosene up like a sponge so makes good torches for back yard play in 1-2 inch wide strips.
OOps - I alwasy call it three different letters, but it’s MDF!!!
And that new PVC 1x6 stuff is great too! (many sizes - for exterior as wont rot. Used it to raise the toilet!
That would be a mighty big house.
Now, go to where new home is going to built and watch the delivery, then go out into the woods and see how much wood comes out of one acre.
Thanks for posting that. I was trying to fit a similar thought into one paragraph.
Bump for later
A solution in search of a problem.
I once spent a year in Cambridge, England. The local farmers used to harvest their crops—wheat, barley, corn, or whatever—and then when the stubble had dried out, they would burn it off. That quickly prepared the land for planting winter wheat, by removing the stubble and getting the remains into the ground, and I suppose as you say reduced the carbon.
It was an interesting sight, although things got pretty smokey right into town in the burning season. I don’t know if they still do it. I doubt it, because the greenhouse gas folks would probably be all over them if they did.
Gone with the fox hunts, I expect.
Said farming method dates back to at least Old Testament times. See Malachi 4:1.
Be sure to look into mud for a foundation says this little piggie
Technically, straw is not a “waste” product. Ideally, it is either shredded and plowed under as-is, to decay and replenish the soil; or is used for bedding for livestock which causes it to become mixed with manure, and is THEN spread back upon the land, plowed under and even further replenishes the soil. Periodical supplemental applications of lime and fertilizer complete the program of soil replenishment and enrichment.
I used to work for a guy who built a strawboard plant in Whapeton, ND. I used to run a custom cabinet and millwork shop in Wisconsin. We used a lot of the strawboard in lied of particleboard. No formaldehyde used in making of strawboard. Very uniform particles and behaved just like particleboard. It is not OSB nor MDF.
No wonder I look so good. All that preservative.
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