Making a Cob Wall

This is the first post I share with you on this very new blog. Very exciting. I am still in Thailand doing a permaculture design course and on one of the working afternoons we learned how to make a cob wall. A cob wall consists of a mixture of sand, clay, water and some long fibre like straw that is applied to a framework. As it is a relatively thin wall it can be used to build houses within tropical to subtropical climate rather than in other climates. If you live in a tropical climate, you could first build your frame during the dry season and then make the walls during the rainy season. The frame could be build with bamboo sticks for example.

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On the picture above you can see the small walls we built in a gap of a building. It is supposed to be the wall of a compost toilet. The behind this wall there is the chamber of the toilet, that needs to compost for 6 month when it is filled. After that time period the wall will be smashed. On the pictures the wall is not complete yet.


Building a Cob Wall

70% Sand and 30% Clay

Water

Straw

Bamboo to build the frame

Frame:

In the example you see at the pictures we weaved together some bamboo sticks. The sticks are cut in half lengthwise to make them more bendy.

Cob Mix

You need a mud pit to mix the ingredients together. First you put sand and clay into the pit and put some water in. If you had one wheel barrel of sand and a little less of clay you can put one can of water. Then you jump in there, preferably with a bunch of friends and mix everything together with your feet and hands. Add more water and mix again. Then you can slowly begin to add the straw. We basically want to work with straw that is nicely covered in a not too wet sand and clay mix. You add as much water and straw until you find that consistency. I had some problems accepting that this is not exact science. I tried to find exact numbers for the ingredients but in the end you have to ask your feet.

Cob the wall 

Now you take a big bunch of straw and twirl it around and then weave it into the bamboo frame. That is what we did. You can see it on the pictures 🙂


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As you can see, making a cob wall is not hard at all. There are many more things you need to consider though if you want to build your own house. But that is also very possible. That is the magic of Permaculture; It is pure empowerment. So cheers to all of you reading this.

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