Insulation is a mystery to most folks…










For those who are unfamiliar with insulation, making a healthy choice for this necessary feature in our lives can become confusing.


Fiberglass is probably the most familiar type of insulation when it comes to your home, available in both a batting and shredded/blown form. Fiberglass is essentially molten sand, spun like cotton candy. People like it because it’s easy to work with, is fire resistant, and makes a great insulation. One of the reasons we aren’t keen on recommending conventional fiberglass batt or spray insulation is due to it’s urea formaldehyde content, added as a binding agent. Urea formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and contributes to poor indoor air quality as well as causes monumental issues for individuals with Multiple Chemical sensitivities. Formaldehyde exposure can trigger watery eyes, nose irritations, wheezing and coughing, fatigue, skin rash, severe allergic reactions, burning sensations in the eyes and throat, nausea, and difficulty in breathing in some humans. These effects can be compounded when your house breathes during typical temperature fluctuations. If possible, search your locp_Knauf_EcoBatt_Glasswool.jpgal area for formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation, which can be found available in both batt and blown. We love working with Knauf EcoBatt insulation as a trusted, reputable source for toxin and formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation. In lieu formaldehyde as it’s binder, Knauf EcoBatt insulation uses mineral oil and is safe for use by chemically sensitive individuals.



If formaldehyde-free versions are not available near you, choosing something traditional and sealing is your next best bet.  Use a garden sprayer and apply AFM Safecoat Safe Seal undiluted. Apply two light fog-like coats, with about 20-30 minutes between coats. Spray the exposed (inside) face before putting up drywall. Safe Seal can be used in a myriad of applications around the home, and is particularly useful with new construction conundrums like these.


Another commonly used insulation, spray foam, is at the bottom of our list as a healthy option. While it’s a great, effective product and can get deep within crevasses traditional insulation ccloseup-spray-foam-insulationannot, it is compromised of 100% synthetic chemicals, typically polyurethane. Spray foam is used quite often in new construction, in all areas of the house. If your new construction home is filled with the stuff, followed the aforementioned instructions on applying Safe Seal. This will prohibit the chemical hodgepodge from outgassing into your home.


Blown in cellulose has become clever option for recycle-minded. Made of shredded or modified paper, it seems like a great way to repurpose the material into something useful. We tend to caution our chemically sensitive customers away from using this as insulation material, as it it’s content is often chemically de-inked in addition to being treated with flame retardants. We do not currently have a solution to seal or treat cellulose in order to make it usable by those with MCS.


Cotton fabric that comes from pre-denimjeanconsumer denim jean scraps, can also be shredded and spun into a batt-like insulation, has peaked interest across the US.  Boric
acid is used to clean the fabric and provide flame resistance, but the use of dyes and subsequent de-inking chemicals makes this an expensive and somewhat suspicious product to recommend.


When considering insulation for your new or old home, our bottom line is to recommend a formaldehyde-free fiberglass. Breaking even for runner-up options include cellulose filling or Safe Seal-treated traditional fiberglass. Causing this tie- we’re not sure what might be contained in the treated-cellulose, but it’s also unlikely you’ll 100% seal all your home’s insulation with Safe Seal. It’s possible, however unlikely, to reach every cranny with a fog of this product. Remember, sealing is only as effective as it’s application, so make sure to be thorough, diligent and to manage those expectations. Regardless, Safe Seal can be incredibly effective in prohibiting the majority of in-house emissions from the insulation when applied properly.

13 thoughts on “Insulation is a mystery to most folks…

  1. Brookcie20 says:

    We just finished a mold remediation and I selected Knauf EcoBatt to replace my insulation, because of my health issues and chemical sensitivities. I was hoping I would not be sensitive to it, but after my contractors installed it I cannot go into my house without reacting negatively to it. What could I possibly be reacting too? Will it ever go away? I am super sensitive and now I’m afraid I won’t be able to move back in. Any suggestions?

    • Andy Pace says:

      Im sorry to hear about your situation. The Knauf EcoBatt is made exclusively from sand, glass and mineral oil, so the chances of reaction are very slim. Did you test a small sample first? Its quite possible you are reacting to whatever chemicals were used in the mold remediation process and not the insulation itself. If you wish to discuss further I would recommend booking an appointment with Andy for 15 minutes.

      • Brookcie20 says:

        Thank you for your reply! It’s good to hear the likelihood of this insulation causing a reaction is slim. I’m hoping once everything is finished, cleaned up and aired out, I’ll be ok.

  2. Home Insulation says:

    I really loved reading your thoughts; obviously you know what you are talking about! Your site is so easy to use too, I’ve bookmark it in my folder.I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

  3. Callum Palmer says:

    I think that the insulation in my home needs some work. Now as you said here, there are different types that I could use. Of those you listed, I think I’m going to go with spray foam since it can get into all of the small places other forms of insulation can’t.

    • Andy Pace says:

      Thanks for the comment, Callum. Of all the insulation products we discussed, spray foam is usually our last choice due to its inherent toxicity. There are better ways to seal small crevices that won’t involve the use of unhealthy materials. Feel free to reach out directly to us if you wish to discuss further.

  4. Mark Murphy says:

    I really appreciate your tip to make sure that your insulation is free of any formaldehyde since it can be very harmful. My wife and I have been thinking of redoing our basement, and that means gutting it out to make room for our new design. I will be sure to tell my wife that when we get new insulation, we should try and avoid any that might have formaldehyde!

  5. Cheryll Bennett says:

    I’m currently contemplating purchasing sheeps wool insulation from Oregon Shepard. It sounds like the healthiest, least toxic, material I’ve researched. What is your opinion?

    • Emily says:

      It’s a wonderful product and we love the sustainable aspect of sheep’s wool insulation! However, it’s not for everybody. Wool contains lanolin which can be a major irritant and allergen for some people, especially the chemical sensitive. The price point for sheep’s wool insulation many of our customers might find prohibitively expensive and can change due to availability of raw material aka the harvest. Definitely a product worth looking into if all these factors are non-issues for your project! Thanks for your comment Cheryll!

  6. Phyllis Mink says:

    Thank you for your information about insulation! Many years ago, I was exposed to formaldehyde-based insulation in an air-tight new building where the fresh air vents were closed by management to save energy. As a result, I developed chemical sensitivity which I am still dealing with 30 years later. I had to move 3 times to find an old house in good shape, with real wood floors, that had not been (improperly) renovated, so I could renovate it to be able to live in. It took a few years to find out what was wrong with my health, but I will always be grateful to AFM products and information for helping me.. They are very helpful with information not only about their products, but about anything related to chemical sensitivity. I believe they saved my life. The paints, especially the non toxic primer, and the sealers, including grout sealer for some inert ceramic tile floors, were especially important. I also used the safe cleaners instead of commercial ones. Safe Clean, along with soda and vinegar, even removes perfume in most cases (perfume is often formaldehyde based). As for insulation, I used foil insulation with a new HVAC system. It is clean but does not mute the noise very well. Every house is different and requires different products, but I want to say that AFM products are like GOLD!

    • Andy P says:

      Thank you so much for telling us your story and letting us all know how wonderful the AFM products have been for you. Fortunately, the insulation industry has gotten much cleaner over the years, but there is still a lot of work to do.

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