One key to affordable natural building is to use low cost, locally available materials. Look especially for what others don’t want – things like ‘problem soils’, dredgings, ‘wastes’. This brick making video was the inspiration for this blog post. It explains how a company in the Philippines uses abundant, locally available materials to make brick. They use silt and clay that accumulates in rivers and reservoirs. Removing the silt and clay helps reduce flooding as well as provide low cost building materials for their bricks. The same material would work for earthbags, earthen plaster and tamped earth floors.

Other examples of low cost fill material for earthbags include: subsoil (also called fill dirt by excavators), clay, caliche, road base, crusher fines, crushed limestone, sand, scoria, pumice, gravel, dredgings (this includes silt and clay as explained above as well as crushed coral and sand from marinas).


Low Cost Fill Materials — 7 Comments

  1. Thank you, gentlemen.

    Yesterday, while researching this, I came across a very old newspaper article on something called caliche block & tile by Howard Scoggins.

    I guess there’s many hours of research that can go into it. I don’t recall anything about it on your blog but the earthbag method is likely a much simpler approach. BTW, I apologize if I am posting these comments in the wrong area… its just an article I came across when querying caliche.

    The above mentioned article can be found here…,2198030

    Finally, Owen, I loaned the DVD I purchased a year or two ago out & never got it back so I need to buy another one. Before I do, though, are there any new ones about to be released? My plan is for using the Rachel tubes from Canada, last I looked into it.

    Thank you.

    • The definitive caliche expert and report is from the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems:

      This info could be applied to earthbag building. But most any subsoil will work fine in earthbags. That’s a key advantage of building with bags — a wide range of materials will work.

      No other DVDs are planned. I may do one on our sustainable homestead eventually after I get lots of content and everything is built.

  2. Dozer work pushed up huge piles of caliche from right where house is to be built… good or bad… we’ve a natural caliche pad to build on.

    Any advice on getting started?

    There is no topsoil anywhere around the building area… its like a quarry… my concern is lack of flow.


  3. Hi again.

    Do we have any good/crazy/far fetched ideas what to use as insulation except (scoria, pumice). Sweden dont have that much vulcanos.

    Well I have one locally produced “rock”. Its glass that is heated and poped like popcorn I guess. (Swedish)

    Not that cheap.

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