Types of Rock Wool Insulation

Rock wool insulation, also called mineral wool, is an insulation material composed of extremely fine fibers made in much the same way as cotton candy but with rocks.  The rocks are heated to a temperature of about 1600 degrees Celsius and spun around to create the mineral fibers.  It has a very high tolerance for heat and cold, around 500 degrees Celsius more (hot and cold) than glass wool insulation, and is commonly used in industrial facilities and the automotive industry.  Like any other insulation material its primary purpose is to prevent the transmission of heat, energy, from one side of the insulation to the other.  It can be used in houses’ exterior walls to prevent the waste of energy from heating and air conditioning.  Aside from heat, the fibers are also excellent in insulating sound and are often used to minimize noise from factories.  The mineral fibers are also extremely good fire retardants and are often used as spray fireproofing material.

Insulation materials come in many forms, for wall applications, it can be purchase as a semi-rigid rock wool board. These boards are placed inside wall panels as insulation.  These boards are generally unattractive to rodents and will deter burrowing but at the same time the organic binders used in the manufacture of the material may accommodate mold and bacterial growth.  Rock wool insulation are known also to collect moisture from the air more rapidly  than glass wool and must have proper weep holes for the moisture to drip out from, otherwise accumulated moisture can lead to water damage to other components of the structure.

Pipes that need also insulation can be serviced with rock wool pipe covers.  These come in cylinder form with one slit on the side to allow it to be “snapped” on.  These are for pipes that carry liquid or air at very high or low temperatures. For other irregularly shaped walls, roofs, pipes or tanks that need insulation there is the rock wool blanket. These come in rolls and are relatively more pliant than the board and pipe cover variety.

Rock wool insulation is a relatively safe material when already installed, but during application and manufacturing extreme precaution must be taken to avoid inhaling loose fibers and contact with the eyes.  The Proper safety clothing must be worn at all time.

Rock wool also has another surprising application.  The natural and organic nature of the raw materials used in the manufacture of fibers makes it a popular growing medium for hydroponics.  Hydroponics is the growing of plants where no soil is used.  The nutrients are supplied through a solution into which the roots are immersed.  The use of rock wool allows the roots to have a buffer in case there is a dip in the nutrient solution levels and the roots are unable to come in contact with the liquid.  Moisture retained in the wool gives the plant a short time buffer to survive.

Not all rocks are the same, and so not all rock wool insulations are the same, the best quality are those made from pure basaltic rock.  These rocks have a chemical composition that are generally non-reactive and thus have little or no adverse reaction to the minerals and nutrients for the plants.

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