AirCrete is easy to work with, easy to make, lite weight and inexpensive. With just basic skills, you can make AirCrete and get started on building a home, even for under $10,000.
If you are just being introduced to AirCrete, we recommend starting with our Everything to Know about AirCrete article.
Aircrete is not just some hobby low quality product to build hippy homes. It actually has been used to build homes all over Europe, Germany specifically. To the point where a huge percentage of the homes are AAC, or what is called Autoclaved Aerated Concrete. While the simple methods shown below are not used for these homes it follows the same process. Only difference being the AAC bricks are made with precision and purchased from professional companies in Europe already formed. Surprisingly, it's not well understood or readily available this way in the United States or many other countries. In the United States, the standard has always been wooden framed homes. These homes come with disadvantages such as fire hazards, termites and mold issues. It's like the lumber companies have a monopoly, this is seen with building departments in counties, they almost don't even consider alternative options because it's not well understood in the States.
The good news, you can make these yourself anywhere in the world, which is great. The products of concrete, foaming agent and air are readily available worldwide. They are lightweight and easy to work with, so essentially you could build a home by yourself. Let's get in to how to make it.
How To Make AirCrete, The Basic Steps.
The truth is that making AirCrete is similar to baking just about anything in the kitchen using a recipe. Using proper measurements is so important, you need to produce consistent results of quality. In other words, be scientific and don't cut corners, this is used to build a home after all. Very proper methods of weighing and measuring your Aircrete and mix is so key.
Disclaimer: This is an informative article and any building of a home you do is at your own risk. The best AirCrete recipes can and will be argued about by others in the community, so do your own due diligence and explore all recipes and methods before starting your project. There is a lot to understand when it comes to building a dwelling and it's not something you want to cut corners on. AirCrete can be done with basic dish soap, foaming agents and a method to pump air in it. But understand, you can add fiber for strength and use many different molds. For the sake of this article, we will cover your basic DIY low cost AirCrete method.
- Kitchen or Postal Weight Scale.
- Concrete Mixer.
- 50 Gallon Drum & Large Bucket
- Molds for Your bricks, slabs or shaped frames
- 94lb standard bag of Concrete
- 2 Cups of Dawn Dish Soap (You can test out other soaps but it must foam a lot, Dawn Soap works well)
- Readily available water source
90psi Air Compressor, at least.
A Continuous Foam Generator ( an example is The Little Dragon )
Pre-Mix readiness - You need your foundation, this is a whole other topic and should be made with regular concrete. Your foundation should be built to specification and your building plans professionally thought out. Things like electrical and plumbing locations should be pre foundation as well, learn about this first or get help.
Make your frames for your AirCrete, this is also something needed based on your plans for the size of the bricks or slabs that work for you. Typically these are wooden frames that resemble a box of the size bricks or slabs you want. You can also made these large and cut your bricks from the bulk slab after it has cured. AirCrete, when made correctly is like a very light weight shaving cream, you need to weigh it for consistency and density of the foam. AirCrete foam needs to be pumped into a mold and cured properly to have solid bricks, you would then remove them from the frame for your finished bricks that will be used to build. There are many options with AirCrete, you can even pump it into a pre framed home so explore your options first.
Step 1 - You will be using a 40:1 ratio plan, such as 5 gallons of water to two cups or 16oz of your chosen foaming agent (dawn soap for example). There are other foaming agents such as professional foaming agents, but Dawn soap works well. Mix your water and foaming agent very well in a bucket. Do not cut corners, these must be precise measurements.
Step 2 - Using your foam generator (Little Dragon, see link above), which is connected to an air compressor at a minimum of 90psi. It's time to prime your generator and get your psi dialed in and ready with your water mixture. Starting with the setting at 0psi, prime the generator though the wand till water comes out and slowly increase the psi to 60psi till a think foam is coming out. This mixture is very important as it determines the quality of the AirCrete later on, if this is not done right your AirCrete may turn out brittle or unusable. Once you have a think foam, you need to measure what is coming out.
Using a quart container, zero out the container on your scale so its weight is not factored in. Add the foam to the quart container to the very top, the mixture needs to measure very close to 3oz a quart or 80g a liter. If your weight is off, increase your air pressure psi to lower the weight, or decrease your air pressure psi to get more weight till the mixture comes to the desired 3oz a quart. This will be your psi setting to continue with and the next step is ready.
Step 3 - Using the 50 gallon drum, mix a 94lb bag of cement and 6 gallons of water. Measuring your water out first to 6 gallons, add the cement slowly while using a concrete mixer (the motor can get strained if you dump it in all at once). Be sure to scrape the sides and get a very good mix till you have concrete. It should be a smooth nice concrete mix without clumps from the bottom to the top of the drum before the next steps. Use safety precautions like a mask, you don't want concrete in your lungs.
Step 4 - It's time to pump your water/sop mix into your concrete. Using a spiral mixer or attachment for the little dragon type foam generator. Put the foam wand into the concrete mix while constantly mixing with a spiral mixer or little dragon attachment at high speed, both at the same time next to each other. Your foam AirCrete mix will slowly rise as the foam injects into the concrete. Do this process till the 50 gallon bucket is all foam, with no heavy concrete left. The mix gets to about 45 gallons, just short of the 50 gallon drum. At this point your AirCrete will be ready for your molds.
Step 5 - From there, you can pour, pump or shovel the mix into the molds or framing you have made. Such as the molds to make bricks, slabs or any framing forms you have chosen. Once the foam is in your molds, level it and make it clean looking and flat for it to cure. Let the foam cure and harden into solid AirCrete, the timing on this is dependent on your weather so you should test a batch first. When taken out of, or removing the frame, the AirCrete should be solid, similar to concrete but with air like bubbles in it. Some issues found could be brittle AirCrete or some bricks that have a mixture of heavy concrete with AirCrete. It may take some practice to master, so try to get this correct before building.
Little worried and want to get training?
On Domegaia you can get building plans, help and hands on classes all over world, plus you can buy the tools you need. Their website is full of inspiration too, take a look at the impressive styles you can make from AirCrete. The even have the building plans for a basic dome home that can be made for under $10k. The classes with Domegaia are highly recommended just to get really familiar with the start to finish process. They happen all over the world, cost can range, usually between $1k to $2k depending on the country. You will learn so much about AirCrete, from foundations, mixing to building, it will go over everything you need to get started.
Here are some highlighted pointers to touch on.
- Make sure to weather seal the home if you have built it out of AirCrete, this means inside and out. This is best practice for the longevity of your AirCrete home.
- If you would like fortified AirCrete blocks, you can use fibers and add it to the mix. This actually makes the AirCrete stronger and more solid. Also some professional foaming agents are claimed to be better than dish soap, if you are okay with the cost this may be something to explore.
- Regular concrete is recommended for the foundation when you are building. It's completely suggested to go this method, this part may need professional help if you don't know how to do it.
- Depending on your country, state and county. Be sure to check with the building officials before you begin. Some are completely clueless about AirCrete, so make your decision on the plan after talking with them. The last thing you want is for them to tell you it's unfit for living. Believe me, we specialize in raw land so we know some counties will reject your AirCrete plans, simply because it's not common to use it.
- Unless you know electrical and plumbing, get some help in these categories from a professional. It's important to get this before you begin because wiring and plumbing needs to be pre planned, even before the foundation. Don't mess around with electrical or plumbing unless you're sure you can take it on. Even if a building department approves you, they may reject you later for poor execution of your wiring.
- Get super creative, think about adding stones, glass wine bottles, AirCrete landscaping like fish ponds, cool shaped windows, round door frames, AirCrete counters, indoor seating and so much more. You can pump the foam into structured shaped frames of all sorts, so imagine the possibilities. Domegaia has some awesome ideas on their website.
- Learn about maintaining your structure, you don't want any weather damage. Also know the limitations of where you are living, like heavy rain or major natural disasters of the area. There are ways to fortify your structure based on the conditions of the area. Pre plan these things and maintain the home over the years.
Overall, if you can buy land for under $10k like we sell on LandZero and build with AirCrete for $10k you are styling for a very low cost home and no mortgage. The more unique the building you make, and appeal of the area, will open up other options for even making income. You may find yourself renting these out for some cash on AirBnb. Some of the most popular rentals on AirBnb are the unique homes that give someone a different experience.You could even do a small hotel or hostel, the possibilities are endless.
If you can, take pictures and video of your progress and post it online. It is a small community of AirCrete explores and videos of projects really motivate all of us. Share with the world!
We wish you the best in your building goals! Everyone has a desire to live a bit different, but only a handful do. Explore more about off grid living, living off the land and even international living by visiting our blog.