Loeb Strauss (1829 - 1902); pioneer in energy conservation and green building construction.

Sounds like a bit of very strange ancient history unless you know that Loeb Strauss later became known as Levi.  And that blue jeans, the product he made popular with gold miners and other working stiffs 150 years ago, was the forerunner of insulation that seems nearly perfect when compared to the alternatives.  Perfect, but with one caveat.

I first encountered denim insulation in a green home exhibit in 2006.  There it appeared in the form of shreds packed into pre-formed wall panels.   Today under the brand name UltraTouch manufactured by Bonded Logic, it is available in batts as well as loose fibers which can be blown into place.

UltraTouch is manufactured from post-industrial recycled denim.  This doesn't mean hand-me-downs from the thrift store; most people wear their jeans until they aren't fit for recycling anyway, but rather scrap and waste material from the process of manufacturing blue jeans and other cotton-based textiles.  The material is cleaned, cut into strips and treated with a boron solution to retard fire and mold.  It is also treated with a pest preventive which the manufacturer claims has toxicity lower than table salt.


The process of producing UltraTouch consumes much less energy than is needed to produce other forms of insulation and any waste material is recycled back into the production stream.

UltraTouch has an R-value (thermal resistance value) of about 3.4 per inch which is about the same as fiberglass and comes in thicknesses from 3.5 inches (R-13) to 8 inches (R-30) in dimensions suitable for use with 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 framing.  The batts are backed with 100 percent aluminum foil and can be used for insulation in automotive, aviation, and marine settings as well as residential and commercial construction.

In addition to rescuing waste textile material from the landfill, denim insulation comes from cotton, a renewable and sustainable source with a rapid growth cycle.  The denim is also free from the substances that can cause skin and lung irritations and is formaldehyde and resin free.

UltraTouch is Class-A fire rated and meets LEEDs eligibility standards.

 But now that caveat.  Owens-Corning R-13 insulation costs $9.98 for a role that will cover 40 sq. ft.  UltraTouch in the same 3.5 inch thickness runs $1 per square foot.  Probably too much extra green just to be green.   But, like most technology the price will probably drop as competition enters the market.