What are Compressed Earth Blocks?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 January 2017
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Compressed earth blocks are bricks that are composed of natural materials that are pressed into shape using manual equipment or motorized machinery. The main purpose of the blocks is to provide building materials that are indigenous to a given location. This helps to keep construction costs down by eliminating charges for transporting materials from other areas.

Compressed earth blocks are constructed with the use of different types of compressed earth block machines. The machinery involved may be simple affairs that are operated with a simple level that allows for the manual compression of the materials into bricks of a uniform size and density. These types of manual machines are considered to be an improvement of the older method of using sticks to beat soil into a wooden mold, since the lever allows for the even compression of the materials in the mold.

More robust versions of a compressed earth block machine employ the use of hydraulics and high tech machinery to achieve the ideal compressed earth blocks. These machines are ideal when the building project is extensive. Along with a sophisticated hydraulic system, the machines may involve a series of cams, toggles, and assists. Generally, production output is several times higher than the manual style of machinery.


Compressed earth blocks are considered to be an environmentally friendly way to provide economical housing. Drawing on the natural resources found in the immediate area, the use of CEB or compressed earth blocks provide bricks that will fit together perfectly, which helps to minimize or even eliminate the need for some sort of binding agent. Because the blocks are created locally and do not have to be hauled in from another location, they often prove to be relatively inexpensive to use.

Along with the reduction in transportation costs, compressed earth blocks can also be very practical in countries where political conditions are less stable. Since the blocks are produced locally, it is possible for people to continue building homes and other buildings even in periods where imports to the country are blocked, or transportation from one part of the country to another is not viable.


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