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Vermiculite - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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  • Vermiculite

    Even the word scares me. There must be some other type of insulation to insulate the floor of the oven. I must explain. Vermiculite is a mined mineral. when it is refined it has an asbestos content which is dangerous causing lung cancer and or breathing problems. Here in Montana the folks have a large law suit against W.R.Grace company for the disaster their mining of vermiculite and the by products of asbestos contaminating the whole town. Over two hundred miners and their families have been diagnosed with lung diseases. So the question being what other type of insulation may be used. I think a styrofoam the same which is used in floors when heating systems are put into floors then concrete layed over it.

  • #2
    Re: Vermiculite

    You can use perlite, which is the same price and does the same thing. That said, no US company is going to sell anything with even trace asbestos content, because if they did, there would be an army of lawyers waiting to pick their bones clean. You can, of course, make your own judgments about what "certified asbestos free" means in an era of worldwide sourcing, and corporate wrongdoing.
    My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


    • #3
      Re: Vermiculite

      Yes, the Libby, Montana site was high in co-incident asbestos but although the minerals asbestos and vermiculite mica come out of solution and form crystals at or near the same temperatures from molten rock not all solutions of molten rock have the same composition. After Libby and all it's problems, vermiculite mined and sold was and is pretty highly checked before being labeled "asbestos free".

      Personally I prefer vermiculite over perlite as it is less irritating to my skin and I would certainly highly recommend wearing a good respirator when working with either.

      Perlite is product made from granules of volcanic glass that has a high content of water locked up in it's stucture. When heated to a fairly high temp the granules pop much like popcorn does. Now since we are concerned about nasty things in our lungs, glass is silica and the fine shards of perlite one would suspect would be potential sources of "silicosis".

      All you can do is take what precautions you can remembering no one has made it out of life alive yet. We just got back yesterday from a wake of a good friend in Seattle. He died at 52 of a massive coronary. And at 3:00 today we are attending a "celebration of life" for another friend, she died of cancer at 54. Life is short...take big bites!

      Last edited by Wiley; 03-01-2009, 07:59 PM.


      • #4
        Re: Vermiculite

        You don't have to worry about the vermiculite once it's in the oven. It will be fully enclosed, surrounded, encased and completely safe.

        You'll only be handling the vermic for a few hours, during which time you WILL be wearing a dust mask.

        Just think how impressed your neighbors will be that you handled such a "hazardous substance"!
        Ken H. - Kentucky
        42" Pompeii

        Pompeii Oven Construction Video Updated!

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        • #5
          Re: Vermiculite

          .... and as far as styrofoam insulation, I'd check the physical properties of the material before I considered it for use. I'm pretty sure I've seen the stuff melt and shrivel up when exposed to heat. I'd have serious reservations about using this material next to very very hot bricks.
          Everyone makes mistakes. The trick is to make mistakes when nobody is looking.



          • #6
            Re: Vermiculite

            .... and as far as styrofoam insulation, I'd check the physical properties of the material before I considered it for use. I'm pretty sure I've seen the stuff melt and shrivel up when exposed to heat. I'd have serious reservations about using this material next to very very hot bricks.
            It's going to let off extremely nasty (and potentially dangerous) smells when it gets above it's rated temperature. I'd stick to high temperature refractory insulations that are made for this use.
            My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2


            • #7
              Re: Vermiculite

              The insulation you put into a floor with a heating system is NOT sufficient to do an oven. It will melt. The temperatures are not similar at all.

              If you're worried about the asbestos, get the FB board or equivalent- no asbestos, no little bits of vermiculite. Still little particles of stuff you don't want to breathe, but a good mask takes care of that. I'd rather handle that stuff (or vermiculite) properly than breathe styrofoam fumes. Any day.



              • #8
                Re: Vermiculite

                Do not panic. It was only the Libby mine. I live in Arizona and actually purchased a bag of Verm from California. Weird. Very few ore bodies have asbestos and it takes a whole lot of exposure to asbestos (think ship builders who smoke) who deal with mesothemioma. Look it up and be aware. And yes, at one time I was a certified asbestos inspector!

                Jen-Aire 5 burner propane grill/Char Broil Smoker

                Follow my build Chris' WFO