Tag Archives: green home

Got Wood? Then Cordwood Masonry Might Be the Right Green Building Method for You!

Do you have a wooded property or easy access to cord wood?  If so, then you might want to check out the Cordwood Masonry Method for building a green home, office, spa, chicken coop – or whatever else you’re building!

It’s difficult to pinpoint who “invented” the cordwood style of building.  Also known as cordwood masonry, stackwood construction, and stackwall construction, this style of building has been found as far back as 1,000 years ago in portions of Greece and Syberia.

Cordwood is a very easy, affordable and, depending on where you live, very green method of building a structure.  It can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like, and the style offers a look of natural beauty all it’s own once complete.

This unique building style involves stacking pieces of cord wood, also known as fire wood, as you would bricks, using mortar in between them to seal up the holes and gaps around the logs.  Wherever you can manage to get your own logs, you can build a very eco friendly, natural home with the help of this green building technique.

cordwood home from the 1950s in oregon
Early 1900s Cordwood Masonry home in Oregon


For example, in the United States, Cordwood Masonry became popular in places like Wisconsin, Vermont, and Upstate New York during the Depression because these areas are heavily wooded.  Generally, you need to clear the trees for your home in these locations.  As a result, it becomes quite economical when you can use the same trees you’re cutting for your home site anyway as the building materials for your actual structure.

You do need some time to season your wood which requires planning and preparation, but, in many situations, time is far cheaper than materials costs.  You’ll also need to buy the ingredients for your mortar.

Speaking of which – Experts differ on the exact amounts and combinations of ingredients to use for cordwood mortar, but most recommend a mixture of sand, lime, portland cement, and soaked saw dust.  This is all mixed by hand and applied between each log.

cordwood house at night with recycled glass windows shining
Cordwood house in Del Norte, Colorado showing it’s colors at night via cordwoodmasonry.com


When done correctly these walls offer and exceptional R value and their thermal mass (or ability to absorb heat and slowly radiate it back to the surrounding space) is fantastic.  They also look really really cool inside and out!  Many even incorporate recycled glass bottles, stones, or unique wood ends to add even more style to their finished project.

Want to learn more about cordwood masonry?  There are many wonderful books and even classes you can go to in order to learn more about this building style.  Even novice builders can excel at building their own cordwoood building, but, they should complete a few practice projects first in order to hone their construction skills before delving into a large structure.  To help this along there are also places that facilitate building parties/classes in which participants help build a host’s home.  You get the benefit of experience and they get help with their home.

However you do it, if you have the right property and the right project, cordwood masonry is a green building style that will help you build an earth friendly, natural home or other structure easily.

cordwood peace sign

How Much Can A Clothesline Really Save?

With spring coming on I’ve realized I’ve been slacking big time on using the clothes line.  I know it’s important for a LOT of reasons, but, the dryer is right there….

I need some motivation to get off the dryer at least for the summer.  So, I went in search of real stats on why throwing that wet laundry into a basket and carrying it upstairs to hang outside is better for the natural home than just throwing it right into that dryer just sitting there next door to the washer begging to dry the clothes for me.


How Much Cash Will The Clothesline Save?

For most people in the US running your dryer costs about $0.30 – $0.40 per load.  As a family of 5 I do approximately 10 loads of laundry a week including sheets, rags, towels, and clothing for each of us.  So I can save a couple of bucks each week if I put a bit more effort out and use the clothes line. Ka-Ching!


Can The Clothesline Really Help Save The Environment?

The short answer – Yes.

The “How” is a bit more complicated. Basically, if we all use less power, we need less power generating sources; all of which have some type of negative environmental impact.  When the power demand is less (because you’re using your clothesline instead of your dryer for example) this negative impact is reduced or even eliminated!

Of course, using the dryer is only one electrical appliance in one household.  There are a myriad of other ways to save energy and even more ways to work towards saving the environment….but, there’s no doubt about it.  It’s more environmentally friendly to use the clothesline than the dryer.


Is It True Clothes Can Be Saved By Line Drying?

That’s what they say.  When the dryer tosses clothes around zippers and buttons snag fibers and age clothes more quickly.  The evidence?  Look in your lint tray.  There is no lint when line drying.

Now, I’ve washed a tissue, or a piece of paper for example and, well, the dryer is nearly essential when trying to get these fibers off.  But, the same is going on to the fibers of your clothes that you actually want to stay where they are each time you run them through the dryer.  So, you really can save your clothes (and even more money!) when air drying clothes vs. using the dryer.


Well, I guess that’s a lot of savings when you look at it that way!  I would probably add too that when I use the clothes line I’m more active as well plus, I get outside; so there’s a bit of “saving” for me there too!

And, you can’t forget that smell.  There’s nothing like that dried in the sunshine and fresh air smell……

Looking at all these ways using a clothes line can save really gives me the extra motivation I need to get the laundry outside this summer.  And, ideally, this “no dryer” vibe will keep flowin’ all year through and we’ll finally set up a system in the basement for line drying so we’re covered for rainy and winter days too.

How about you?  Can you have a clothes line?  Unfortunately, some developments prohibit them.  And, we’ve seen folks with some types of allergies be aggravated more when their clothes were dried outside.  Overall though if you can find a place to string up your clothes, are able to get a wooden drying rack, or can make some other contraption in order to avoid using the dryer in your natural home, the environment, your clothes, and your wallet will all thank you!





Proof Baking Soda Is A Must Have For Any Natural Home

I’ve been cleaning with baking soda for a number of years now and it never ceases to amaze me how many areas of the home it’s good for.  Some people just don’t believe in the power of the baking soda though and insist on expensive (and often toxic) cleaners.

Well, here’s some proof of just how powerful baking soda is.

My husband, Mr. T., is a carpenter and often during remodels, he’ll find a treasure or two the homeowner doesn’t want that he’ll bring home.  He amped that up 100% when we were building our house this year, which we’re so grateful for.  One of the scores he made was a fantastic stainless steel pots and pans hanging light fixture!

When it came time to have the electrician put it up in our kitchen, I pulled it out of the shed and realized it had quite a thick coating of grease mixed with dust – Take a Look…


image of dirty light fixture cleaned with baking soda
BEFORE - This is the stainless steel light fixture before I cleaned it. It's very close up in an attempt to show just how thick the coating of grease actually was. At first, it looked fine - but upon closer inspection - EWWWWW!


Ewwww is right!  At first, I went after it with my vinegar water solution but, that just smeared it all around – double ewww.

I tried a more abrasive rag, nothing.  Then, I remembered how I have had great success cleaning the oven (greasy and nasty as it often is) with a paste of baking soda and water along with a bit of elbow grease.

So, off for the baking soda I went.  I dumped a bunch into a bowl and then added just enough water to make it into a spreadable paste (not exact instructions I know, but it’s really all ya gotta do and make as much or as little as you need).  I slathered that baking soda paste all over the stainless steel fixture and scrubbed with a rag.  This is what happened!


natural home cleaning a light fixture with baking soda
AFTER - the same upper portion of the light fixture after being scrubbed down with a paste of baking soda and water. Notice the shine as opposed to the dull greasy appearance of the "before" photo above?


Much Better!  And, here’s the finished product after then being cleaned off with a vinegar and water mixture and then fully dried.


light fixture in a natural home
The finished fixture all cleaned and shiny in it's new home!


The only warning I will give about baking soda – and I just learned the hard way with this project – DO NOT use baking soda on un-sealed wood – it will leave brown marks.  I got some on our cedar shingles when cleaning this light fixture and then got some on our unsealed butcher block (maple) counter tops and both times it left brown/black marks after reacting with the wood.


Other than that – use baking soda anywhere you’d use an abrasive cleanser as well as in your laundry, your fridge, as a carpet deodorizer/cleaner, to clean your stained coffee mugs, and so much more!!