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What is Wool Insulation?

Wool is shorn from sheep.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 15 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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For millennia, people have used the wool from sheep to keep warm. They may weave it into blankets or warm clothing, and some have created wool filling to stuff blankets, clothing or mattresses. It’s not surprising that groups like nomadic tribes in Mongolia have also employed wool as insulation in homes, and this idea has translated on a much larger scale to commercially produced wool insulation.

This form of insulation is sheep wool that may be treated with materials like borax, and it can look similar to fiberglass insulation. The many people who choose wool insulation cite several of its advantages. It naturally resists flame and fire, and it can trap chemicals that are known toxins. Another advantage is that sheep wool is biodegradable, though processes used to raise sheep are not always environmentally sound. However, raising sheep tends to incur less environmental debt that does, for example, the production of fiberglass.

One benefit to wool insulation is cost of installing it. Unless a person is allergic to wool, there is no need to wear protective clothing during installation. This can lower the cost and duration of installation time.

Another of the benefits of wool insulation is its ability to absorb water without losing its insulation capacity. When fiberglass or cellulose insulation gets wet, it becomes fairly ineffective. This does not apply to wool and may make this insulation a better choice in some instances.

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Wool insulation is considered very effective in insulating homes, and potentially more effective than fiberglass. It tends to dampen sound, which might make it an attractive insulation choice in homes sharing connecting walls. However, the insulation itself is usually more expensive than fiberglass, and in some parts of the world it may be difficult to find builders that are familiar with using wool insulation. For instance, though a few US builders are now using wool, the majority use other insulation forms. There is a larger percentage of use in Australia, Europe and Canada, which may definitely influence US building practices in the future.

Some argument exists that those unfamiliar with wool insulation would be less likely to install it. Yet installation is similar to fiberglass and is not difficult to adapt to. Wool insulation comes in several sizes, and is suitable for insulating between inner and outer walls and in floors and roofs.

One potential area of concern with those looking for environmentally friendly building practices is chemicals and pesticides to which sheep are routinely exposed. In most cases wool is washed prior to being constructed into insulation, but this creates its own issues. Chemicals that are washed off can contaminate groundwater. People looking for alternatives to fiberglass who are not interested in wool may want to consider products like cellulose insulation.

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Discuss this Article

anon267376
Post 5

What sort of insulation is used in petrochemical construction?

anon89807
Post 4

What if I just get some sheared wool from the farmer here and stuff it in the floor?

anon89590
Post 3

WEKA sheep wool insulation panels are available to retrofit interior walls. WEKA Panel is insulation and drywall in one. WEKA blocks are used to fill stud walls.

anon62021
Post 2

Sheep wool will not burn and is naturally flame retardant because of the lack of oxygen. Wool requires about 38 percent oxygen to hold a flame and there is only about 24 percent in the air.

anon59781
Post 1

Sheep's wool insulation is the best natural fiber you can use. The wool is scoured (washed) in a state of the art facility using equipment and processes that have been approved and meet strict environmental standards.

The by-product, grease, is shipped to the cosmetic industry. The insulation is superior in all respects to anything on the market. The price is higher than conventional fiber glass information but the hazards and indoor air quality issues are well documented with fiberglass.

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