Posts Tagged ‘Soil’

Making earth tiles out of soil

I’m making tiles out of soil! Yep, just plain soil/earth from the land – well mostly… After a lot of testing I’ve come to a recipe of 9 parts soil and 1 part lime. Plain soil would be OK, but the lime should make the tiles a bit more durable and waterproof as well protecting them from moulding while they’re drying (an unpleasant side effect of building with earth in damp environments).

Ideally I would use hydraulic lime (the good stuff), but I couldn’t get it in time, so I’m using hydrated lime I had to hand instead (the normal stuff at most builder’s merchants)…. Devonshire soil is great for building. Unfortunately they are taking forever, since I am doing everything by hand. A lot of rocks & worms to sift out frustratingly, but I’m working on a solution.

Simple handmade wooden forms and everyday tools needed to make the tiles… next time I’ll make metal forms as the soil clay sticks like crazy to the wooden ones.

Sifting the earth. All the clumps, rocks and roots have to come out. Ralph needs to dig deeper into the subsoil next time! Sooooo many worms and roots.

Mixing earth little by little into the slaked lime, before pouring back into the main mix… this reminds me of folding chocolate into egg whites for chocolate soufflé – maybe I shouldn’t make tiles when I’m hungry?

Drying “flagstone” shaped tiles

These were the winners. Both survived initial drops from 6 foot. On the left is one of just plain Devonshire soil and on the right a mixture of soil +25% sand and +5% of my special additive 😛 … A little haggard looking now, but they have been out in the elements for about a month. Quite remarkable.

Next time I will do a few things differently to speed up the process, but it is still very satisfying to know you can just go outside and have most of your materials right there for free on the land. 😉

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