What Is A Compressed Earth Block?

 

According to Yale University, close to 150 million people, or 2% of The World’s population, are currently dealing with homelessness. This crisis has reached epidemic proportions with little to no solution in sight. All around the globe, people from first, second, and third world countries are struggling for adequate housing, sleeping on the streets and public parks, to loitering outside private businesses. 

We have reached a point in history to where ignoring the problem is no longer a viable response, and that a real practical strategy to ending global homelessness is conceived, developed, and implemented. Luckily, cutting edge innovations are already available with affordable products on the market! 

This burgeoning technology is for whether you are into alternative building methods, green-living, and/or a homeless person (or advocate) in search of adequate housing options. By using a manual or automatic commercial press (made with locally sourced soil), one is able to produce dense and durable lego-like blocks that can be connected and stacked with ease by anyone, whether they are  experienced in building or not. This technology, and all related innovations withn this field, might just pave the way toward a more equitable society where proper housing can be considered a human right instead of a first world privilege. 

So Exactly What Is A Compressed Earth Block?

A Compressed Earth Block (CEB) is created when you take subsoil, clay, aggregate (and sometimes Cement or Lime), and compress the ingredients under massive mechanical pressure of around 3000psi. This result is that the block’s volume is cut in half, and that a litteral building block (or brick) is produced. These blocks can be molded (during pressure) into lego-like blocks that, after curing, can be connected and stacked without any complications. 

Did You Know:

  • A small amount of cement (or Lime) can be added to the mix and used as a “Stabilizer.”
  • CEB blocks are bullet proof (and fire proof) due to their density.
  • CEB dwellings do not usually require AC or heating systems. The temperature inside usually stays the same due to the thickness of the walls which do not allow heat to penetrate inside, or allow cool air to escape outside.
  • Ideal CEB blocks are composed of the following: 15% Gravel, 50% Sand, 15% Silt, 20% Clay. For stabilization, Cement is preferred for sandy soils, and Lime for Clay soils.
  • Mortar for the blocks are made from 1 part cement, to 6 parts soil, to 6 parts sand (by volume). It is 1.5x more stabilized than the CEB blocks.

How Does A Manual Compressed Earth Block Press Work?

The process of making compressed earth blocks is pretty straight forward: 

  1. First, subsoil is sifted through a hopper (or screen) to remove any lumps, stones, and pebbles.
  2. Pour soil, sand, and then stabilizer in a container (in this order) which is then first mixed dry, then wet.
  3. Pick a mold; The CEB press machines usually comes with molds that will shape the blocks (bricks) into lego-like pieces, easy to connect and stack. 
  4. The mixture is then placed in a manual or automatic CEB block press.
  5. After the material is subject to immence compressed pressure, a brick or block is produced.
  6. The blocks need to cure for approximately a month before use.

Pros & Cons 

Advantages

There are many advantages to CEB blocks. Most of te material used is locally sourced and widely available. The CEB blocks are dense enough to stop bullets and eliminate the need for air conditioning and heating. It is cheap to make these blocks, and they can be molded into stackable and connectable bricks that make it easy for almost ANYONE to build. 

Disadvantages

It can be a little tedious to get the correct proportions of soil, sand, and stabilizer to make ideal CEB blocks. These blocks also take approximately a month to cure before they can be used.

What’s On The Market?

There are many products on the market right now that create durable CEB blocks. Here are just a few examples:

Manual:

  • Graco Ram by Gracomaq (Gracomaq.net)
  • Auram 3000 Block Press by DwellEarth (Dwellearth.com)
  • Generic Manual CEB machine (dhgate.com sold by alice20091)

Automatic:

  • Semi automatic Graco Ram (Gracomaq.net)
  • Earth Blox BP714 by Dwell Earth (Dwellearth.com)
  • Auram Press 4000

These are just a few examples of the many products available starting from a price of approximately $1800. CEB block making is not a new technology, and has been around for a long time, Innovations in the field, although vastly disregarded, have the potential to change the world, and solve a global housing crisis. Better-than-adequate housing can be developed using the very ground one walks on. Regardless if it is through a manual or automatic CEB press, these machines (and related technology) can be utilized to help end homelessness, one locally sourced building block at a time.


Building A Future

Imagine an impoverished area, full of homelessness and despair, being able to unite collectively (and synergetically), all for the common good of creating maybe a public shelter, or some small housing units, or even just a wall for security. The people can be trained and working within a matter of hours, not days. Not only will the people from this hypothetical community attain adequate housing, but they may indeed also develop a sense of community and team work in the process. This attitude and type of collective action can then be used as a template for community building across The Globe.

Another Idea…

Imagine you want your own little off-grid home, far away from the public (and any access roads). Normal construction methods would be extremely difficult to carry out, if not impossible, due to access and transportation issues. In this type of situation, a small portable manual CEB press would allow one to develop sustainable housing privately, practically anywhere! Once the machine is on site, all the other necessary building materials are right at your feet!!

Compressed Earth Blocks are not only cool for their interlocking lego-like features, but they are also practical, efficient, and environmentally safe. This technology may very well be the way of the future! Innovations in the field are constantly improving, and the technology is gaining in popularity. The best part about it all, however, is that the CEB blocks are as durable as rocks, and are dirt cheap!!!

8 Comments

  1. Reply

    Legos for real buildings? I did not know this existed; very cool. From my own experience working with grout. cement and concrete, I would agree that this is a great material to build with.

    • Reply

      Haha yes, lego-like building blocks made out of dirt can and should be the future standard of building! Whether for the everyday person or community to develop adequate housing with materials sourced locally!!

    • admin

      Reply

      Right!?!? Real life lego blocks!! I love this technology and truly believe it’s the future of building.

  2. Ali

    Reply

    What a nice post you wrote! I really enjoyed reading it and I could not be silent about your post so I decided to leave my comment here and say Thank You! For sharing this quality post with others.
    Actually this is exactly the information that I was looking for about earth block and when I landed to your website and read this post, it answered all my questions in details.
    So I’m happy that you decided to write about this topic and share it with people. It’s very useful and can definitely be used as a great source for compressed earth block.
    I will come back to your website again for sure and I’m looking forward to read your new posts.)

    Thanks!

    • admin

      Reply

      Thank you very much! I am very happy you found this information useful! Hopefully the word will soon get out about all the benefits and uses of Compressed Earth Blocks. I am fascinated with alternative building technologies, and the CEB block press is definitely a favorite!

  3. Byron Moya

    Reply

    This alternative of blocks from dirt is pretty amazing!. I really enjoyed reading your article and learning something that I didn’t know it was possible, from dirt!.

    • admin

      Reply

      Creating lego-like blocks from dirt is not only possible, but is currently being done all the time! It is a pretty amazing technology that everyone should get familiar with!

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