Dont Ignore the Real Fire Hazard

All of the above is true of baled, plastered straw. Unbaled,loose straw,however,is extremely combustible, and the large amounts of loose straw that accumulate during construction are a serious fire hazard. Smoking, welding, grinding, or any other spark- or flame-producing activities

Q: Won't a bale home be likely to rot or mold?

A: Straw bale walls do not exhibit any unique propensity for moisture retention. It is clear that straw bale walls can function, without incorporating an interior vapor barrier, in northern climates. — Strawbale Moisture Monitoring Report, submitted to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) by Rob Jolly, 2000

Q: Can straw bale techniques really make a difference to the environment?

A: The embodied energy for the conventional frame house was 509,000 KBtus. The embodied energy for the low-impact straw bale house is 41,000 KBtus, or about one twelfth that of the frame house. — Investigation of Environmental Impacts, Straw Bale Construction, by Ann V. Edminster, University of California, Berkeley, 1995.

Q: Will a bale home be less expensive to heat?

A: Straw bale construction, along with appropriate building conservation technologies and simple passive solar design, could provide up to a 60 percent reduction in building heating loads over current practice. — US Department of Energy (DOE) straw bale assessment program, 1995 ■

should not be undertaken in the vicinity of loose straw. During construction, always be sure to have fire extinguishers and enough water available to deal with potential fires in your loose straw. Also, keep loose straw raked away from the walls to minimize the risk of any accidental fire spreading into the unplastered walls.

This is not just an idle warning. Several bale homes have burned to the ground while the straw was exposed and the site covered in loose straw, ignited most often by work site activity like soldering pipes and metal grinding.

Loose straw (especially organic straw) makes excellent garden mulch. Rake it up, keep it under control, and don't let it catch on fire.

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