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Re: [SB-r-us] Fermentation as workability enhancement for Earthen Plasters [Fwd: GSBN: Digest for 10/12/07]



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            <p>Well first of all we're at home finishing a workshop tomorrow except   
that no one wants to leave and it appears that the workshop will go   
on several more days.  And since I've been back and forth to DC, just   
finished 4 weeks devoted to workshops, I'm not going to any   
colloguium. Actually I never do go to them for that matter. 
 
Anyhow, on to plaster and fermentation. I agree with RT but I don't.    
I think there is some similarity to air entraining, but there is   
actually fermentation that takes place. I argued a bunch with the   
Japanese over this one, but they won out in the end.  OK, it is true   
that bleach in the paper as well as chlorine in the water will   
inhibit fermentation if not prevent it. Obviously city water is not   
an ideal medium for fermentation. Plus I I don't like newspaper and   
other bleached papers.  Nuff said about that for the moment.  I do   
like cleaner papers in very thin mixes that might be highly polished,   
etc. 
 
As for tensile strength I would say the following. Our thick mixes   
that have a ton of straw to begin with don't loose all the straw.   
There is plenty of fiber present by the time we use it although much   
of it is broken down and whatever the resulting compound is, whether   
it be glue of some sort or whatever clearly seems to be   
advantageous.  I am familiar with air entrained mixes and the   
improvement that results from aging of clay with natural fibers is   
much superior when it comes to how the mixes behave when it comes to   
applying them. They are simply much more plastic and easy to work. 
 
And one more added benefit is that they seem (actually a little more   
than seem) to be much more weather resistant.  And with that I call   
it a day. 
 
B... 
 
On Oct 19, 2007, at 12:20 PM, Rob Tom wrote: 
 
> 
> Here's another excerpt from a GSBN List digest that I've only just now 
> gotten around to 
> looking at. 
> 
> Perhaps when Wild Bill-bob gets back from his 10-day colloquium   
> cruise, 
> WBb can set up something at the GSBN List whereby messages with   
> technical 
> content get copied directly to SB-r-us so that they are archived and 
> accessible to any and all. 
> 
> The non-technical messages, like those re: membership are probably   
> best 
> left off of this List. 
> 
> (And while you're at it WBb, you might check to see  why it is that my 
> postings to GSBN aren't getting through.) 
> 
> 			=== * === 
> 
> On the subject of fermentation that Beel and Graeme discuss   
> (below), I'm 
> thinking that the enhanced workabilty is not unlike the enhanced 
> workability of cementitious mixes (ie concrete and Portland cement 
> plaster) when air entraining admixtures are used. 
> 
> When used with Portland cement plaster or concrete mixes, air   
> entraining 
> admixtures have the effect of making the "mud" more "creamy",   
> almost like 
> shaving cream (but with stones and coarse sand particles in it), a   
> quality 
> which, when found in a plaster, as you would imagine, makes it much   
> easier 
> to work with on vertical surfaces. 
> 
> The air entraining admixtures also impart the quality of better   
> moisture 
> retention to the mix. ie If you've ever navigated a wheelbarrowful   
> of wet 
> concrete over rough terrain, you will likely have noticed a   
> accumulations 
> of green "juice" ... water that has separated out of the mix.  Or if 
> you've left a wheelbarrowful of wet concrete sitting for awhile,   
> you might 
> find the same green juice. When air-entraining admixtures are used,   
> that 
> separation of the critical mixing water does not occur. 
> 
> In addition to the enhanced workability/moisture retention of the 
> still-wet cementitious mixes, when fully cured and hardened, 
> air-entrained concrete posesses the property of better frost   
> resistance 
> because the voids allow moisture some room to expand as a result of 
> freezing, thereby relieving expansion stresses and the likelihood of 
> spalling. 
> 
> Lack of frost resistance is one of the weaknesses of clay mixes and is 
> probably the biggest reason why they aren't used more extensively in 
> locales where severe freezing occurs. 
> 
> Although I have no direct experience with earthen plasters, I can't   
> help 
> but wonder if the addition of newspaper or office paper to the   
> plaster mix 
> and and its fermentation 
> are necessarily Good Things in the long term ? 
> 
> I suspect that most people know what happens to newspaper and white   
> paper 
> over time as a result of the bleaching process that was used during   
> its 
> manufacture. In time, the fibre degrades and disintegrates due to the 
> residual acid content. 
> 
> Degraded/disintegrated fibre = no fibre= no long-term tensile 
> reinforcement in the plaster 
> 
> The fermentation process (that yields the bubbling that seems to be   
> the 
> equivalent of air entrainment admixtures) also suggests to me that   
> there 
> is some degradation of the fibre occurring as well, and I would   
> suspect, 
> with the same implications as above. 
> 
> Like proper water : cement ratios, proper proportions of air   
> entraining 
> admixtures are also critical. Too much will result in a severely   
> weakened 
> mortar. 
> 
> Plain, ordinary laundry detergent powder is often used as a air   
> entraining 
> admixture in cementitious mixes. A potential problem with soap   
> though is 
> that the surfactants do funny things like render Tyvek useless at 
> preventing the passage of liquid water. 
> 
> 
> ============== Forwarded Material ================== 
> Date: 12 Oct 2007 10:27:21 -0500 
> From: Athena &amp;amp; Bill Steen <<a href="<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:absteen@...";>mailto:absteen@...>absteen@...> 
> Subject: Re: GSBN: Earth plasters 
> 
> Graeme, 
> Couple of things. First of all (laughing), plastering in NZ I think 
> is a tad bit different than dehydrated parts of the world such as 
> where I live. I suspect Andy's part of the world is in the dehydrated 
> category. 
> 
> But on to what you said about fermenting plaster. I have found that 
> the longer any earth plaster ages the better it seems to get. 
> Especially this applies to those containing some fiber whether it be 
> straw or paper.  Even for short periods of time we've had large 
> batches of clay and straw plaster rise like bread dough, quite 
> amazing.  The only objectionable thing about longer periods is that 
> there is a definite organic odor that comes with it.  Personally it 
> doesn't bother me, but others don't get overly excited about it.  To 
> see if I can help those who are sensitive we've started some 
> experimental batches with EM, a product known as Essential 
> Microorganisms to see if it alters the process somewhat. 
> 
> Anyhow, what I like about the fermented mixes is that the character 
> of the mix changes entirely.  It is hard to describe, but it becomes 
> much more pliable, plastic, easy to work and the breakdown of fiber I 
> suspect makes it less susceptible to mold when drying in wetter 
> conditions. 
> 
> The only down side about adding too much paper for an interior 
> plaster is that you're going to sacrifice thermal mass and since that 
> is an impt ingredient when it comes to the performance of a SB 
> building it would seem we don't want to sacrifice that. 
> 
> Bill 
> On Oct 10, 2007, at 2:05 PM, Graeme North wrote: 
> 
>> We have found the addition of pulped paper as a fine fibre very 
>> very good. 
>> Its made either from office paper or newspaper  it can be made by 
>> throwing soaked paper into a concrete mixer with lots of water and   
>> just 
>> letting it roll until completely broken up , then draining off excess 
>> water 
>> before use. 
>> It gives a very fine fibre which is enormously beneficial in terms of 
>> increasing strength, and durability of earth plasters. If it 
>> ferments a bit even better (all ferment seems to help earth plasters 
>> using water 
>> that has had a bit of straw left in it for a week or two to start to 
>> fizz is 
>> good as well)  - there appears to be some enzymic reaction that takes 
>> place 
>> between paper or ferment water and clay that helps workability and 
>> durability. 
>> 
>> Paper pulp eliminates dusting from earth plasters  helpful 
>> especially if 
>> the soil is a bit silty.  It also sticks well  we use it over 
>> pre-compressed straw without meshing. 
>> We also use it as a finishing plaster over drywall  a very nice 
>> finish and 
>> it sticks like ...glue. 
>> 
>> It is also very effective as an additive to earth bricks as well 
>> increases 
>> robustness, durability, and also lowers density giving better 
>> insulation. 
>> 
>> The amount of paper pulp that can be added can be quite high  - we 
>> often use 
>> up to around 30% or so by volume to plaster , and have made mud 
>> bricks with 
>> up to 50% paper pulp  cardboard houses anyone? 
>> I am currently looking at building with cob and mud brick mixes using 
>> roughly 2 parts clay-soil, 2 parts wood shavings (long fibered 
>> rippings) or 
>> straw, and 1 part paper pulp  very tough, very light, easy to work, 
>> and 
>> looking promising.  Very good insulation, and very nice to use as 
>> gravity 
>> increases  remember that there is plenty of evidence that gravity 
>> doubles 
>> in strength very thirty years. 
>> 
>> As to lime over earth  I1ve found it works well so far IF there is 
>> good 
>> keying and wetting  if the initial earth is a cob type mix with 
>> lots of 
>> (straw) fibre with plenty of fibres left hanging out of a rough 
>> surface, 
>> then that is good too for tying the layers together. 
>> 
>> I1ve just lost a patch off a bit of a small experimental earth 
>> plastered and 
>> whitewashed straw wall where the earth plasters layers were not 
>> keyed well 
>> together. Keying is good. 
>> 
>> Best 
>> 
>> 
>> Graeme, 
>> Graeme North Architects, 
>> 49 Matthew Road, 
>> RD1, Warkworth, 
>> New Zealand 0981 
>> Ph/fax &amp;#43;64 (0)9  4259305 
>> 
>> ecodesign@...>ecodesign@... 
>> www.ecodesign.co.nz 
>> 
>> 
>> 
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>> SUBJECT line. 
>> ---- 
>> 
> 
> Athena &amp;amp; Bill Steen 
> The Canelo Project 
> HC1 Box 324 
> Canelo/Elgin, AZ 85611 
> <a href="<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:absteen@...";>mailto:absteen@...>absteen@... 
> www.caneloproject.com 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ---------------------------------------------------------- 
> 
> Date: 12 Oct 2007 18:52:29 -0500 
> From: MattsMyhrman@...>MattsMyhrman
> Subject: Re: GSBN:Re: Lime plaster problems 
> 
> In a message dated 10/10/2007 1:17:11 PM US Mountain Standard Time, 
> <a href="<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:andy@...";>mailto:andy@...>andy@... writes: 
> 
>> Sometimes however lime plaster 
>> was not used and rather a cow dung earth plaster was used followed by 
>> regular coats of lime wash...though at the coast where we experience 
>> strong 
>> wind driven rains a lime coating was the norm. 
> 
> I believe that many of the cob buildings on the southern coast of   
> England 
> (Devon?) used several (maybe 4-5 initially) coats of lime wash.  It   
> was 
> considered somewhat sacrificial, and was followed up, after a year   
> or two, 
> with a 
> couple more coats.  After that, another coat every couple of   
> years.  Maybe 
> Barbara 
> Jones can check in on this  one, and also tell us whether lime wash   
> over 
> cob 
> or earth plaster has traditionally been used anywhere in the   
> British Isles 
> where they experience driving rains coming in off the sea (up on the 
> northwest 
> coast of Scotland?). 
> 
> 
> ************************************** 
>    
>  
> 
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> ---------------------------------------------------------- 
> 
> Date: 12 Oct 2007 19:57:56 -0500 
> From: MattsMyhrman@...>MattsMyhrman@... 
> Subject: Re: Pulped Paper as a Fiber Source 
> 
> In a message dated 10/10/2007 2:09:04 PM US Mountain Standard Time, 
> ecodesign@...>ecodesign@... writes: 
> 
>> We have found the addition of pulped paper as a fine fibre very very 
>> good. 
>> Its made either from office paper or newspaper &amp;amp;shy; it can be   
>> made by 
>> throwing 
>> soaked paper into a concrete mixer with lots of water and just   
>> letting it 
>> roll until completely broken up , then draining off excess water   
>> before 
>> use. 
>> It gives a very fine fibre which is enormously beneficial in terms of 
>> increasing strength, and durability of earth plasters. 
> 
> Here's a different use of newspaper-sourced fiber. 
> 
> The top part of my strawbale igloo/office first got a well-  
> scratched layer 
> of 
> earth plaster.  The "scratching" was done with a commercial tool   
> that gives 
> flat-topped ridges and flat-bottomed valleys that have straight,   
> vertical 
> sides 
>  from the top of the ridges down to the bottom of the valleys. 
> 
> I then troweled on an approximately 1/4 inch thick layer of a   
> mixture of 
> free, recylcled latex paint and cellulose ceiling insulation   
> (essentially 
> shredded 
> newspaper).  To test the bonding between this cello-latex and the 
> underlying 
> earth layer, I applied some onto a similarly scratched earth test   
> tile. 
> When 
> I peeled off the cello-latex, the separation occured not where the   
> c-l met 
> the 
> earth, but, rather, slightly within the earth base, leaving the entire 
> bottom 
> of the c-l covered with a thin layer of earth. 
> 
> The final layer was a thin, rolled on coat of UV-resistant   
> elastomeric roof 
> paint. 
> 
> The performance so far has been outstanding, keeping everything inside 
> absolutely dry.  Totally non-air-permeable, but tighter than a   
> frog's ass, 
> and 
> that's water-tight. 
> 
> Matts (feeling the fiber) Myhrman 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ************************************** 
>     
> 
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> ---------------------------------------------------------- 
> 
> Date: 12 Oct 2007 20:09:25 -0500 
> From: Tom Hahn <<a href="<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:tomhahn@...";>mailto:tomhahn@...>tomhahn@...> 
> Subject: Re: GSBN:Re: Pulped Paper as a Fiber Source 
> 
> Sheer poetry, Matts... (pun intended) 
> 
> That made me chuckle pretty hard... 
> 
> Tom Hahn 
> 
> 
>> ... keeping everything inside 
>> absolutely dry.  Totally non-air-permeable, but tighter than a frog's 
>> ass, 
> and 
>> that's water-tight. 
>> 
>> Matts (feeling the fiber) Myhrman 
> 
> 
> ---------------------------------------------------------- 
> 
> Date: 12 Oct 2007 21:10:10 -0500 
> From: Graeme North ecodesign@...ecodesign@...> 
> Subject: Re: GSBN: Earth plasters 
> 
>> Hi Bill and others - thanks 
>> 
>> I agree totally that long mixing and aging is good for plasters. 
>> 
>> And sometimes yes we long for a bit of dehydrated climate - esp   
>> when the 
> mould 
>> starts growing on us! 
>> 
>> An earth/straw house actually makes one hell of a difference in   
>> comfort 
>> in 
>> this soggy climate - no more condensation on even single glazed   
>> windows 
> (with 
>> passive solar design to trap some heat into the mass of the house)   
>> - no 
>> more 
>> mould on items such as leather shoes - plenty of spiders to share the 
>> house 
>> with - 
>> 
>> Be really keen to hear how you find EM - I1ve just discovered it   
>> for the 
>> garden - it seems to be magic - it may take away that good old   
>> fermenting 
>> smell. 
>> 
>> As to significant thermal mass in straw houses - I1m a bit of a fan 
>> myself 
> of 
>> straw for exterior walls, earth for interior walls and floor, and   
>> don1t 
>> try 
>> and pursue much out of the earth plasters where it is going to be   
>> pretty 
>> minimal anyway - and of course only the final plaster of only a   
>> few mm 
>> thick 
>> needs the paper additive anyway come to that. 
>> 
>> And  - I1ve never found swelling of cellulose fibres to be an   
>> issue, even 
> with 
>> quite high percentages - its really saturated when we use it - esp   
>> if its 
> been 
>> sitting a while - and anecdotally - a building near here that   
>> burned down 
> had 
>> the firemen puzzled because the dry wall was in much better shape   
>> than 
>> the 
>> firemen expected to see after a fire - the clay/paper plaster had   
>> added 
>> significant extra protection. 
>> 
>> Finally - Limewash over clay- yes toughens up the surface no end - 
>> -however 
> I 
>> have found on experimental and historic walls that IF the wall   
>> gets so 
>> wet 
>> that water gets into the underlying earth plaster, differential   
>> swelling 
> takes 
>> place and the whitewash spalls off in my humble experience.  If   
>> the walls 
> are 
>> getting this wet probably something wrong with the design anyway. 
>> 
>> 
>> Graeme 
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> Couple of things. First of all (laughing), plastering in NZ I think 
>> is a tad bit different than dehydrated parts of the world such as 
>> where I live. I suspect Andy's part of the world is in the dehydrated 
>> category. 
>> 
>> But on to what you said about fermenting plaster. I have found that 
>> the longer any earth plaster ages the better it seems to get. 
>> Especially this applies to those containing some fiber whether it be 
>> straw or paper.  Even for short periods of time we've had large 
>> batches of clay and straw plaster rise like bread dough, quite 
>> amazing.  The only objectionable thing about longer periods is that 
>> there is a definite organic odor that comes with it.  Personally it 
>> doesn't bother me, but others don't get overly excited about it.  To 
>> see if I can help those who are sensitive we've started some 
>> experimental batches with EM, a product known as Essential 
>> Microorganisms to see if it alters the process somewhat. 
>> 
>> Anyhow, what I like about the fermented mixes is that the character 
>> of the mix changes entirely.  It is hard to describe, but it becomes 
>> much more pliable, plastic, easy to work and the breakdown of fiber I 
>> suspect makes it less susceptible to mold when drying in wetter 
>> conditions. 
>> 
>> The only down side about adding too much paper for an interior 
>> plaster is that you're going to sacrifice thermal mass and since that 
>> is an impt ingredient when it comes to the performance of a SB 
>> building it would seem we don't want to sacrifice that. 
>> 
>> Bill 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
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> --  
> === * === 
> Rob Tom 
> Kanata, Ontario, Canada 
> < A r c h i L o g i c  at chaffY a h o o  dot  c a > 
> manually winnow the chaff from my edress in your reply 
> 
> 
> 
> 
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> 
> 
> 
 
Athena &amp;amp; Bill Steen 
The Canelo Project 
HC1 Box 324 
Canelo/Elgin, AZ 85611 
<a href="<a  target="_blank" href="mailto:absteen@...";>mailto:absteen@...>absteen@... 
www.caneloproject.com 
 
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