Human hair as insulation material?
There are many types of insulation material available, from synthetic to natural. A popular one in the natural category is sheep’s wool, which contains the protein keratin. Keratin has various interesting qualities, such as being moisture-regulating and insulating. Keratin can also be found in human hair, a plentiful resource that is currently thrown away. In collaboration with insulation manufacturer Metisse, the Dutch company Eco-Logisch (link in Dutch) decided to do a trial of making insulation material out of human hair.
Human hair consists for 95 per cent of keratin. Evolutionary speaking, humans used to have a lot more hair covering their body, to keep warm, but since our bodies became (mostly) hairless, hair lost most of its function.
Human hair is now mostly seen as a waste material, with the exception of artists such as Sanne Visser, who uses human hair to make ropes. For most of us, however, hair that is no longer attached to the body is useless (and somewhat icky, especially when you have to pluck if from the shower drain). Hairdressers have of course lots of waste hair available, so turning it into insulation material, something with a function that you don’t have to see, is a great idea.
One of Eco-Logisch’s employees decided to try out the insulating properties of human hair, using her own cut off locks. Company Metisse, which makes insulation material from old jeans, washed the hair and put it into a pressing machine, turning it into a felt-like material. The hair was mixed with natural fibres such as hemp, cotton, or flax, to make sure the hair stayed into shape during the felting process.
Of course, the hair of one person only provided a small sample. Eco-Logisch now calls on people to send them their hair in a paper bag, preferably curly hair that has never been dyed (as dyeing damages the hair and keratin), but all colours are welcome. Eco-Logisch hopes to collect enough hair to create 24 m2 (260 ft2) of insulation material, to test it out.
Want to join in in the experiment? You can send your hair to the Eco-Logisch store in Amsterdam:
van Slingelandtplein 9
1051 DD Amsterdam