Plant based insulation...

Posted by: billstephenson

Plant based insulation... - 11/18/17 02:58 PM

Over the summer I read about the medicinal uses of Mullein. That's the low growing plant with the real broad and soft fuzzy leaves and it grows wild in most of the US.

One of the things they mentioned was using the leaves to make a tea, so I gathered some and tried that. It's pretty good, but while I was doing it I thought I'd try stuffing our "Magic Bullet" blender with leaves instead of tearing them up by hand.

It took a bit of fiddling around to get them all chopped up real fine but what it ended up with was a very fuzzy material that is very light and very lofty. I put it in a plastic baggie and compressed it several times and it seemed to recover it's loft easily.

It looks to have the characteristics of down. Of course I'm no expert and I've not done any real testing with it at all but it sure appears to be worth looking into. The stuff literally "grows like a weed" and is easy to harvest.

Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Plant based insulation... - 11/18/17 03:07 PM

Without really thinking about it, I can see two potential problems to overcome for using it as insulation (clothing or sleeping bags): rapid decay, and potential to hold (and give off) moisture?
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Plant based insulation... - 11/18/17 03:56 PM

That could easily be an initial assumption of natural down too, so I wouldn't leap to that conclusion before investigating, though you may well be correct.

I should add that the leaves had been dried for weeks before I used them, and they are quite good at repelling water while alive. I found a little one growing in my yard the other day and it's one of the only things still living after a few frosts here.

It's an odd plant and one that I've been curious about since I was a kid. The leaves feel more like cloth than just about any I've run across.

Posted by: Glenn Roberts

Re: Plant based insulation... - 11/18/17 05:12 PM

I agree: that’s why I said “problems to overcome” instead of deal-breakers.”

That’s also interesting that you were using dry leaves, and they were lofty after being chopped.

At one time, I’m sure someone thought cotton was a weed, too. Same could be said for hemp... smile
Posted by: DTape

Re: Plant based insulation... - 11/19/17 08:56 AM

the mullein leaves make good tp.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Plant based insulation... - 11/20/17 09:19 PM

When I was a kid we called "Hillbilly TP" and I always kind of wanted to try it!

Now that I've been making tea out of it I'd be be hard pressed to waste any on that, but I still kind of wanna try it just to know laugh

I will say this about it, drinking the tea does help my breathing (a lot) and it lasts for a couple days after drinking just one cup. And it does have a "mild narcotic" effect that's really quite nice and it helps me sleep better, so I'm growing pretty fond of having some before bedtime.

Lucky for me, my daughter invited me to go hiking with her last week and we ran across a bunch of it and grabbed a lot and didn't even make a dent in what we saw. So I know a good spot now to go find it easily and really, the stuff grows all over here so it's easy to get anyway. But I am surprised it's not used more commonly because it's good stuff.