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Old 10-12-2019, 07:38 PM   #1
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Sheep Wool Batts for Insulation?

Hey all,

I have been doing some research on insulation and am having trouble deciding on the way to go. I intend to live in the bus full time and would like to move back to the mountains at some point- which means preparing for cold. That being said, I am pretty good at living in cold spaces (I love a good layer or two) and intend to install a cubic mini wood stove (and have been not very seriously toying with the idea of a copper pipe wood stove water floor radiant heating system??)

It seems spray foam is the generally accepted "best fit" for performance although it is either expensive or a pain in the tush to install (and the off gassing thing too).

I plan on doing rigid foam insulation for the floor but I have been looking into sheep wool batts for the walls and ceiling. It seems like it will be relatively good at insulating, will resist moisture and mold, and it would make feel good about where it comes from (sheep are neat). I looked a bit for this but it seems most folks are talking about rock wool.

Some sites I have been looking at are:
https://havelockwool.com/fiberglass-...ol-insulation/
https://eco-buildingproducts.com/spr...v=7516fd43adaa

Thoughts??

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Old 10-12-2019, 07:58 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by jmccoola View Post
Hey all,

I have been doing some research on insulation and am having trouble deciding on the way to go. I intend to live in the bus full time and would like to move back to the mountains at some point- which means preparing for cold. That being said, I am pretty good at living in cold spaces (I love a good layer or two) and intend to install a cubic mini wood stove (and have been not very seriously toying with the idea of a copper pipe wood stove water floor radiant heating system??)

It seems spray foam is the generally accepted "best fit" for performance although it is either expensive or a pain in the tush to install (and the off gassing thing too).

I plan on doing rigid foam insulation for the floor but I have been looking into sheep wool batts for the walls and ceiling. It seems like it will be relatively good at insulating, will resist moisture and mold, and it would make feel good about where it comes from (sheep are neat). I looked a bit for this but it seems most folks are talking about rock wool.

Some sites I have been looking at are:
https://havelockwool.com/fiberglass-...ol-insulation/
https://eco-buildingproducts.com/spr...v=7516fd43adaa

Thoughts??
I can see some obvious reasons why this would be a good insulation material, but I've never heard of it before. How much does this cost, would be the main question.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:23 PM   #3
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We thought about this a bit, but discounted it. We had TONS of sheep and alpaca wool batts. It might resist the mold, maybe, but we weren't sure about it holding onto any water that leaked it. Think about a washing a wool sweater.....how much you need to wring out once it's saturated. Now imagine not being able to wring it out, and it being trapped between the ceiling and the roof. Wool absorbs a lot of water before it even feels moist.
The other worry was wool moths. We've had them in our house, and we've got them in our bus. They're damn near impossible to get rid of and an infestation trapped behind the walls would be worse still.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:48 PM   #4
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Providing a home for critters is very very bad.

If the panels covering the insulation were easily removable for regular inspection and poisoning, maybe.
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:25 PM   #5
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I've lost enough sweaters and sportcoats to moths to realize this might not be a good idea. You could put mothballs in with the insulation, I guess.
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Old 10-12-2019, 10:20 PM   #6
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If its organic it will eventually be nasty and moldy. Kinda like the recycled denim jeans made into batts.
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Old 10-12-2019, 10:28 PM   #7
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It has a little more than half of the Roof value per inch compared to the polyurethane foam.

If you spend any time in particularly hot or cold climates you want as much insulation as you can manage.
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:26 PM   #8
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I was doing some reading and it seems like most wool insulation manufacturers treat the wool with borax or some other proprietary chemical in the washing process. It also seems to be moisture and mold resistant.

Has anyone tried this and had problems or successes??
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Old 10-13-2019, 08:46 PM   #9
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-value_(insulation)

This has a table of R-values for various insulations, but they don't have real wool on the list. It got me fantasizing about aerogel again, though - the 2" I'm allocating to insulation would give me R-20. When I first looked into it, it came out that it has the handy property of costing $1 per R-value per square foot; so my estimated 500 sq.ft. total would be $10,000, a little bit over my budget.

I'm going to try using it for a few small things, though, like insulated covers over vent fans and escape hatches etc.
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Old 12-12-2020, 01:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jmccoola View Post
Hey all,

I have been doing some research on insulation and am having trouble deciding on the way to go. I intend to live in the bus full time and would like to move back to the mountains at some point- which means preparing for cold. That being said, I am pretty good at living in cold spaces (I love a good layer or two) and intend to install a cubic mini wood stove (and have been not very seriously toying with the idea of a copper pipe wood stove water floor radiant heating system??)

It seems spray foam is the generally accepted "best fit" for performance although it is either expensive or a pain in the tush to install (and the off gassing thing too).

I plan on doing rigid foam insulation for the floor but I have been looking into sheep wool batts for the walls and ceiling. It seems like it will be relatively good at insulating, will resist moisture and mold, and it would make feel good about where it comes from (sheep are neat). I looked a bit for this but it seems most folks are talking about rock wool.

Some sites I have been looking at are:
https://havelockwool.com/fiberglass-...ol-insulation/
https://eco-buildingproducts.com/spr...v=7516fd43adaa

Thoughts??

Hello jmccola! How did you sheep's wool insulation go? We are doing our insulation research and given sheep's wool is antibacterial, resistant to bugs, fire resistant, allows the space to breath and dry (and actually filters the air rather then contributing to its toxicity), resists mold growth with its keratin, doesnt cause neurological and respiratory issues (not to mention isnt carcenogenic) - we are really leaning in that direction. I am especially wary of anything that would get moldy, and especially wary of anything that off gases toxins.
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Old 03-28-2021, 11:59 PM   #11
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Any developments jmccoola? I'm also very intrigued by this option... I also like the radiant floor/wood stove idea and I'm curious what type of ideas you had for the heat exchange? Seems like a really cool idea but like anything moving towards complexity it carriers potential for headaches...

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Hello jmccola! How did you sheep's wool insulation go? We are doing our insulation research and given sheep's wool is antibacterial, resistant to bugs, fire resistant, allows the space to breath and dry (and actually filters the air rather then contributing to its toxicity), resists mold growth with its keratin, doesnt cause neurological and respiratory issues (not to mention isnt carcenogenic) - we are really leaning in that direction. I am especially wary of anything that would get moldy, and especially wary of anything that off gases toxins.
My understanding is in concurrence with yours Sevier. For all these reasons, not to mention that its stated R value is 3.6 per inch for bat and 4.3 per inch for loose fill.. Is a good audible insulator as well.. And perhaps most important it's a sustainable, all natural option. I'm usually somewhat apprehensive when making big time choices like this that aren't cheap but this definitely seems like the ends justify the means.

Just purchased our future skoolie from online auction and am making arrangements to bring her back to Dallas!! It's nice to officially join the community. Cheers!
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Old 03-29-2021, 09:15 AM   #12
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Don't let them pull the wool over your eyes. Ask for copies of "proof of their claims" and see what they say. Once the wool gets moist it will make your whole bus smell like a wet third grader.
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Old 03-29-2021, 10:21 AM   #13
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Anything organic will be a **lot** more likely to eventually host critters
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:05 PM   #14
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We insulated our walls with Havelock wool batts in January last year and I have to say we have been so exceedingly pleased with the performance over the ten months we were in the bus full time that we didn’t hesitate to buy another bag when we got our cargo trailer to convert. When we started our current remodel and took the walls off the bus in early March, the wool insulation looked as good as the day it was put in fourteen months earlier. There were a few dead moths inside the walls but zero damage to the wool. Whatever the batts were treated with is not compatible with moths.

Wool is also hydrophobic. It does not readily absorb water unless you hold it under and squeeze it. I’m an experienced knitter and I’ve washed my share of hand knits over the years. Wool that has not been stripped of the lanolin is hard to get soaked. We’ve had some water leak onto the wool where we were installing our city fill valve and it just beads up and runs off. This is how it’s designed to keep sheep skin dry and one of the main benefits of wool. It also breathes, unlike traditional insulation. Seriously, if we ever build a sticks and bricks, there will be wool in the walls.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:14 PM   #15
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Don't let them pull the wool over your eyes. Ask for copies of "proof of their claims" and see what they say. Once the wool gets moist it will make your whole bus smell like a wet third grader.
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https://skeinyarn.com/blogs/blog/34415044-10-wondrous-properties-of-wool

Wool is actually a pretty amazing substance.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:28 PM   #16
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When we started our current remodel and took the walls off the bus in early March, the wool insulation looked as good as the day it was put in fourteen months earlier. There were a few dead moths inside the walls but zero damage to the wool. Whatever the batts were treated with is not compatible with moths.
I wonder why there would be any moths inside your walls at all. I don't think they'd be in there unless they metamorphosed from larvae that were snacking on your insulation. I have a lot of nice wool clothes - that is to say, I used to have a lot of nice wool clothes before they were destroyed by moth larvae. But "destroyed" was the result of a few tiny holes that were actually kind of hard to see at first glance; I think it would be very difficult to detect moth damage to something as large and thick as batts.

Which means your insulation won't really be impaired as insulation (at least not for a long time), it will just have a bunch of moths coming out of it all the time.
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Old 04-30-2021, 12:36 AM   #17
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And if it's been treated with a pesticide to kill the critters

then why try to go "organic" in the first place?
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Old 04-30-2021, 05:54 AM   #18
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And if it's been treated with a pesticide to kill the critters

then why try to go "organic" in the first place?
There is a great deal of confusion over the word ‘organic’. Organic in this case refers to the presence of carbon atoms which makes wool an organic substance and fiberglass, which is spun from rock minerals inorganic.

The food industry’s perversion of the chemistry term notwithstanding, ‘organic’ foods are not necessarily pesticide free either - they are only to be free of synthetic pesticides and herbicides. Boric acid is not synthetic, is found in nature and would be considered organic under the food industry’s use of the word despite not being organic in the chemical sense.
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Old 04-30-2021, 08:23 AM   #19
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‘organic’ foods are not necessarily pesticide free either - they are only to be free of synthetic pesticides and herbicides.
"Organic" foods are necessarily not pesticide free - nobody on Earth can grow anything commercially without the use of pesticides of some sort. Bacillus thuringiensis is the most commonly-used organic pesticide; bacteria grown in giant vats, autoclaved and spread over crops by airplane is 100% "natural".
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Old 04-30-2021, 08:43 AM   #20
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Thanks for saying that about wool (avid knitter here, myself...wool is AMAZING).

I was thinking of going the wool route too (for sustainability), but after investigating a bit, the downside is the R-value. if you've only got 1.5" to put the wool in, the value is something like R-7. I feel like that wouldn't work very well in colder environments. I live in CT, and we just replaced out house's insulation 5 years ago, and what was in the walls was R-9, and it was always chilly in the house. (we went spray foam almost everywhere, and it's been an amazing change, both for our heating bills and the silence from outdoor noise).

Just curious if it's different on a bus, than in a house? Did you go to colder climates and see how it worked there?
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