Question about dirtcrete.

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by NightMyst, Mar 24, 2005.

  1. NightMyst

    NightMyst New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Some time ago (and I really mean YEARS ago) I read an article in a handyman encyclopedia about making sidewalks and pathways for the home. The process entailed tilling the area, adding a bag of cement and raking it into the dirt and watering it. The article also included a fromula that said how many bags to use for an area depending on the usage, eg, sidewalk, driveway, etc.

    Does anyone have any information about this? What is the ratio for each application? Where I can find out more about this? I know I could do some “testing”, but it would be so much more productive this spring if I gould find the info.

    Now, I believe, there’s a commercial product called DirtCrete, but this isn’t what I am looking for.

    Thanx...

    ----- NightMyst
     
  2. Wolf mom

    Wolf mom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    8,079
    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2005
    Location:
    Appalachian Foothills
    My hon has used straight concrete and mixed it directly wilth the soil. The concrete gets it's moisture from the soil and hardens that way. I don't think he measures anything, just goes by how it looks :rolleyes: (that's what happens when you get older). I'll aks him & if he has any idea of how much to use, I'll post it for you.
     

  3. NightMyst

    NightMyst New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Excellent! If I can't find any references for what I need there isn't anything better than real life experience. Thanx for the help.

    ----- NightMyst
     
  4. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,446
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    missoula, montana
    I once read a book that mentioned 14 parts soil to one part portland cement.
     
  5. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,401
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado
    I have read about it and I guess it was practiced by Sea-bees during WW2 on forward bases,

    the directions I remember went some thing like this,

    spread out 1" of cement on top of soil that has been cleared of vegetation, and then rototill the cement into the top 5" to 6" of soil then level and compact the soil down , water lightly,

    now the problems I see with the system, concrete made with soils or gravels with humus or organic materials is weak and usually one does not have a good cross mixture of of sand and rock for strength,

    the basic mix for concrete is 5 parts sand and rock to 1 cement,

    for a sand only mix (like mortar) is 3 parts sand and 1 of cement type mix


    so for any strength at all I would think one would need a 1 to 3 mix for getting any where good strength.


    and if you up the cement content for any where proper strength, you will spend more money per yard than ordering redi mix, is my guess,

    now if you would spread out clean gravel and mix the proper mix of cement into it I could see that, I still think it would be hard to get a good even mix,

    but the problem I still see is getting any kind of acceptable surface,

    now if you were to use clean gravel and just want a good base I could see doing the same and then top coating it with a thin wet poured slab, for getting a good finish,

    I would still be some what concerned about the quality

    but a lot depends on what your wanting to accomplish,


    that is my opinion,
     
  6. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,808
    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2003
    Location:
    Dysfunction Junction, SW PA
    we used to make a nifty mix of sand mix and peat moss, smear it on a wooden box inside and out and let it cure... it will quickly age out and grow stuff on it like moss and lichens, and look just like a rock trough.

    it looks prety real once it darkens up. makes cool fake rocks and "stone" planters.
     
  7. SouthernThunder

    SouthernThunder Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Location:
    OK
    You building a road or a sidewalk? You can mix in liming compounds like boiler ash or fly ash. You wanna go somewhere around 20 percent and about 6 inches down. Drive the tractor over it several times to smoosh it and let it set. As mentioned it will draw the mositure it needs from the ground in most instances. This doesn't work with all soil types but does make a big difference as far as how much gravel sinks into the earth. Also I have heard portland cement works well but I can't help you on the ratio. All this is to provide a good road bed to be topped with something. If you leave it bare it will eventually wash away.
     
  8. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,401
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado
    The Cob Builders Handbook
    http://www.weblife.org/cob/cob_042.html

    soil cement
    (See page 52 in foundation chapter for more about soil cement.) Make up test batches as if you are mixing cob, but add different amounts of cement to the dry ingredients. You'll probably want a soil cement floor to be at least 4 inches deep. Try tamping some of the tests. Dry the samples. Did they crack? Are they strong enough to walk on? The surface can be cut, printed, or pressed to look like tiles or shapes. The spaces between the tiles can be filled with a different colored soil cement to look like grout. Soil cement can be used to make tiles. Both these tiles and the poured soil cement can also be used for the floors of patios and porches.

    You can use a rototiller to make soil cement floors (or even roads) if you have a sandy soil. Figure on making them 5 inches deep. Calculate how much cement to add (6 to 10%) to each square yard or meter.

    Sprinkle the cement on and mix it all up dry with the rototiller. Then spray it with water and rototill it again. You can tell if you have the right amount of water if you can squeeze it into a ball and it holds together, and if when you break the ball in half, it doesn't crumble. Then rake it smooth and tamp it well. Remember to let it cure slowly.
     
  9. Cindy in KY

    Cindy in KY Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    726
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    50 miles southwest of Louisville
    We get "dirty dense grade" gravel delivered from the quarry, about $80 for a big half of dump truck. A really big pile. It's small rocks and allot of grey powder like stuff. We take the hose, if it's dry, and get it really wet before we fill the wheelbarrow. Then where we spread it, we tromp it down hard with our feet, and get it wet again. Doing it this way, it dries really hard like cement almost. I've had it in areas here for years and it's still really hard. The wetter it is outside when you put it down, the harder it dries. You might mix some cement into this, and have sidewalks that are pretty hard. The Dirtcrete sounds pretty interesting, I'm going to have to read up on it.
     
  10. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

    Messages:
    1,600
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    By all means do a test first to find what works best in your area...

    Try 2 shovels of dirt to 1 shovel of cement. That is what I was told to use to when building a sandbag building.
     
  11. NightMyst

    NightMyst New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    Thanx! This was an interesting source. :dance:

    It seems like there will be some experimentation around here come spring!
     
  12. NightMyst

    NightMyst New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    :cool: Thanx to all respondents. It seems the information I'm looking for is being a bit ellusive. There seems to be a lot of people doing things very similar to what I remember reading, but no one with the same info I remember. I DID discover that the National Park Services use the method for their trails (or at leats they used to) so I will look into that source some more.

    Again, Thanx for all the feedback! Maybe one day in the near future I can notify everyone that I found what I was looking for and/or relate the results of my own efforts!
     
  13. oldhomegrown

    oldhomegrown New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2005
    I remember traveling in New Zealand in the late 80's and attending a permaculture institute outside Christchurch where they used dirtcrete to create natural looking walkways while saving $ on materials. I'm not sure if the technology was passed along through the permaculure institute, but that might be a direction to check. I'm also interested in tracking this info down to create a dirtcrete retaining wall...
     
  14. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

    Messages:
    1,607
    Joined:
    May 8, 2002
    Location:
    central New South Wales, Australia
    US Army Engineer manuals on line here and the manual specifically for stabilising earth pathways (no tiles - sorry) is here

    That last one is an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, and will need the Acrobat viewer (which everyone should have installed, or should install anyway).
     
  15. patarini

    patarini Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    503
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2004
    Location:
    tn
    Go to the concrete place, ask for the scrap -=- its left over dust etc -- my old one charged 5 for a pickup load, spread on gravel makes a great driveway!