April 3, 2011

Earth Building #1 - light earth mix

For the earth building enthusiasts, here are some details of the method we used for the light earth walls.

Mixing - The light earth is a mixture of sieved clay soil, water and straw. A mechanical sieve was made from an old metal frame (picked up at the tip), some expanded aluminium grating (found at an old dam site), some 50mm mesh (from a driveway gate being thrown out) and some 6mm mesh (actually purchased from a store!). The whole thing is vibrated using a old drill and some eccentric weights. It works a treat!


 The sieved soil is put into a cement mixer with enough water to make a thin clay slurry, the consistency of cream.

This is added to straw in a large mixing tub – we scrounged an old exhaust fan canopy from a commercial kitchen, turned it upside down and sealed the holes. The mix should result in each piece of straw being coated with mud, but the whole mix should not be too wet. We had the tub on an angle, with a draining grid at the high end. We piled the mix onto this and let it drain for a few minutes before taking it in to the walls.

We'll continue to add further details about filling and finishing the walls in future posts.

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