Foundation Specialists Adrian MI
All About Foundations
The manufacture of fiberglass insulation is an improvement upon slag wool, which comes from steel mills. Volcanoes started it all with rock wool.
Thanks to steady and reliable performance, relative affordability, ready availability, and clever marketing and branding by a few fiberglass manufacturers, the consideration process quite often begins - and ends - with fiberglass. But of course it hasn't always been so. People have been trying to keep themselves warm (or cool) ever since there have been people, and fiberglass isn't exactly an ancient building material. Basically, people have always used whatever material was handy and workable to keep their homes warm in winter and cool in summer. Sod, thatch, cork, wood shavings and even asbestos were common insulators throughout much of history. In this country, with the prevalence of log homes, many people would chink the spaces with sod, mud and straw, horsehair, or even sea kelp if they lived near coastal areas. The natives of the Hawaiian Islands, however, were insulating with the natural precursor to today's most common product hundreds of years ago.
They used rock wool - which came from volcanic deposits where escaping steam helped form the lava into fluffy fibers - to blanket their huts and themselves. Then, in the 1870s, Americans figured out how to manufacture their own rock wool from slag (the molten by-product from iron furnaces). Man-made rock wool (sometimes called slag wool) is still used as insulation today. But unless a house was near a volcano or steel mill in the old days, chances are it was insulated with something else entirely.
It was the invention of fiberglass that made the generic category of mineral wool insulation the most popular one across the country. In 1932, a young Owens Corning researcher named Dale Kleist was attempting to weld architectural glass blocks together when a jet of compressed air accidentally hit a stream of molten glass, resulting in fine glass fibers. Kleist pondered this fortuitous accident and experimented with steam to attenuate the glass fiber. The result was fine, fluffy fibers that are very close to what we know today as fiberglass. And it's no coincidence that Owens Corning and their insulation product commonly springs to mind when thinking about insulation. They separated themselves from the pack in 1956, when company engineers designed a fiberizer that manufactured a superior product.
It eliminated virtually all shot - small pieces of unfiberized glass - and the insulation looked and performed better. Company salespeople were obviously delighted with the new product and were looking for some added visual distinction in consumers' minds.
A red dye was added to the wool binder and the result was pink fiberglass. Soon after, they were the first manufacturer to launch an extremely comprehensive marketing campaign to promote residential insulation, which focused on improved comfort. Then, during the energy crisis of the mid-1970s, they were among the first national companies to market insulation as an energy saver. One of their slogans was "Insulation is cheaper than oil." The company then started using the Pink Panther cartoon character in their advertising during the mid '80s. And even though the Pink Panther has never uttered a single word, a survey done at the end of that decade showed that 85 percent of the country recognized him as the company spokesman.