Natural lifestyle Part 1, cork
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Natural lifestyle Part 1, cork

What

Cork panels are used as insulator and phono absorbing materials, they protect the walls from mold and may contribute to energy saving.

How

Natural Remedies is a word that includes a whole lifestyle. Herbal teas, healthy recipes, yoga exercises and natural cosmetics are just some aspects of this lifestyle that is, in fact, much more. The wellbeing can be achieved also with particular choices for what concerns houses and rooms where we spend most of our time. Today, we’ll speak about cork and its ability to insulate spaces with important economic and healthy benefits.

Cork, properties and uses

Cork is a plant based tissue obtained from the bark of the trees of the species Quercus Suber, characterized by the ability to regenerate and survive also in case of a huge extraction of cork, even more than 50%, from trunk and branches (Luis Gil, Front Chem, 2014). Cork is composed by aggregated cells, about 42 millions for cubic centimeter, and it is also one of the most interesting and versatile materials thanks to its lightness, flexibility, resistance, transpiration and low thermal conductivity. Another advantage of cork is that its thermal behavior resists with time and remains unchanged for decades, for this reason cork is really a material with a long lifespan (Silva et al, Sci Technol, 2011). Thanks to these characteristics, cork is able to insulate the rooms with a remarkable energy saving for what concerns the heating in winter, because it doesn’t disperse the heat with a lower require of stoves and radiators, and the use of air conditioning in summer, by attenuating the heat that tries to come from the outside. Moreover, cork protects also the walls against mold because helps reduce the condensation. Another characteristic of cork is that it is also able to soundproof the rooms (Luis Gil, Materials, Sep 2009). Finally, cork used as an insulator material is absolutely eco friendly and doesn’t present any contraindications for health. On the contrary, other insulator materials show side effects, also dangerous, for example asbestos, well known to be carcinogenic and banned in several countries, or polystyrene, produced from styrene, a substance considered carcinogenic (Huff et al, Mutagenesis, Sep 2011), mineral wools, such as glass or stone wools. Until a few years ago, mineral wools were classified as likely carcinogenic for humans by IARC, now the IARC has downgraded these materials by claiming that the proof of its carcinogenic action isn’t enough, especially for the products made since 2000. However, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any risk, especially when the material is processed or cut, therefore a good choice may be to avoid mineral wools. The cork panels can be used in houses to cover the indoor and outdoor walls, but also for floors and roofs. In case of mold clean and sanitize the walls, you can find some pieces of advice in the post Natural Cleansing Part 1, against mold, then let the wall dry and apply the panels.

Cork types and recommendations

For what concerns the cork types that you can purchase they are divided into two species, expanded or brown cork, that is toasted, this processing method melts the naturally-present resins that will act as a glue, and natural blond cork, in this case the bark is aged for two years in open air, then it is boiled and pressed. Brown cork has better thermos-insulation properties because the processing makes the granules expand and incorporate air but it is less phono absorbing, blond cork preserves in any case all the properties of cork described in the post. Just a recommendation, verify if there are used synthetic glues to produce the cork panels, in this case these panels aren’t a good choice anymore because they may release formaldehyde.
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