From Angela, a reader in Alaska: “I just wanted to add some updated info. I have been searching high and low for scoria. Alaska doesn’t have readily available sources. I have contacted a long list of people and while we can find the volcanoes and a scoria pit even, there’s no way to get it to the general public. Which really frustrates me because I’m been hot on the trail for a long time trying to build an earthbag home for us. If anybody gets any bit of updated info, please share.”

Owen: Your best bet then is to build a straw bale house. Bales are super insulating, easy to work with and should be available in many places. Search this blog for lots of information on strawbale building. One interesting design is called a straw bale yurt. The cold and wind would just blow around a small home like that and be real toasty inside. Thanks for searching for scoria and reporting back. This will save others from going through the same process. If by chance somebody should find some lava rock/scoria in Alaska then please leave a comment here.


Comments

No Lava Rock/Scoria Available in Alaska — 10 Comments

  1. I have been pondering building an earth bag or hyper-adobe structure in AK as well. I’m sad to hear that scoria is not able to be sourced as this would be the most ideal material. Has anyone heard about perlite or vermiculite being available in the quantities needed up here? If not it seems like foam board and siding on the exterior of the earth structure is the way to go.

    • Recycled foam is available in some places. Straw bales would be my first choice if you can find good solid bales. We posted a very good story a few years ago about a straw bale yurt in Alaska. Search for that story. That summarizes the most efficient method that I can think of.

  2. I live in Anchorage, and have started looking for land a couple hours away to start building an earthbag house this summer. This is a wonderful website with a wealth of information. I hadn’t considered using scoria. We have lots of gravel here for the base layers, and was just going to use styrofoam/similar for insulation between the earthbags and the outer plaster. And still have to factor in the moisture barrier as well. I’m hoping it won’t be difficult with the vertical walls I want to use. Not all details are worked out yet, just putting together everything in my mind in prep for the land purchase.

    • It sounds like exterior foam board insulation, slab insulation, lots of roof insulation (R-50) and good doors and windows will be best. I would definitely look long and hard for good straw bales. Also look into expanded clay pellets. They’re popular in Europe. Not sure if they’re available in Alaska.

  3. Try Pumice,it is light. If anything, just use earth,There should be some of that where your at.(just joking) You need to take advantage of whatever is there.
    I think straw bale may be hard to get where your at also.
    A Hogan could be built using saplings and coated with clay and maybe a live roof of some sort.I imagine there could be a lot of small saplings there.Earth berming it would add insulation.It all seems a matter of labor and having the lot to build on. A outlaw version in the woods would be the cheapest.Use a search engine to find free plans.

    • The author of the straw bale yurt book was able to get bales okay. Any comments from others living in Alaska? It probably depends where you live.

  4. I’ve looked into this in Alaska as well. Lava rock is super hard to get a hold of, most deposits aren’t (easily) accessible. Also there aren’t any crops up here that generate a lot of straw. There is hey, but almost no straw. Either material can be shipped up here fairly easily, but at a fairly significant cost. Luckily they are both very light. (I haven’t actually shipped anything, but I did get a quote)

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