Traditionally, ‘cans’, used beer and soft drink containers,were used in EarthShip construction. These are metal, plastic and glass.

The making of ‘glass bricks’ was covered in an earlier ‘How to (DIY)’ section.

Using ‘cans’ has a fourfold value:

  • Waste drink containers,an environmental problem, are disposed of responsibly.
  • They can be very decorative.
  • The cans allow a very significant reduction of the amount of concrete used in the wall construction.
  • The cans are a great filling agent for filling the tyres walls when rendering.

In South Australia, the disposal problem has been essentially solved by the SA Government placing a “bounty” of 10c on each disposable drink container. The cans (and other containers) are collected and recycled for their cash value.

However, the use of ‘cans’ (used metal & plastic beers & soft drink containers) makes for an expression of responsible recycling, and can be quite decorative.

The can walls can be external, internal and as a ‘shuttering’ for the bond beam.They also result in a honey comb structure of cement:

  • This structure is very strong,
  • As the amount of cement used is much less, this becomes an environmentally friendly process.
  • A variation, using plastic bottles filled with sand, is extremely strong and has a high thermal mass.

How to build the wall?

  • Source the ‘cans’
  • Decide on the use of the wall.
    • Internal walls
    • Bond beam shuttering
    • External decoration
    • Growing bed edges
    • Other
  • Lay the foundation – depends on design drawings / requirements.
  • Mix a free flowing “brew” of sand and cement (other mixtures are possible depending on how traditional and environmentally friendly you want your construction to be.)
  • Lay down a layer of the ‘brew’ around 40 – 50 mm thick (about 2 inches). Press the cans gently into the cement layer ensuring no air gaps. The can spacing will depend on your design, but the can centre distance will be approximately two can diameters.
  • Lay on top of this the next layer of “brew” and press more cans into it. These cans will be off set from the lower layer so they fit exactly between the two cans below.
  • Continue until the required height is reached.
  • “Porcupining” is used to anchor the ends and tops of the walls to other structures.
  • or screwed)

Porcupining? Is having protruding nails or screws, (half or more) at the site of a join so that the next layer or joining walls has a solid “grip”. (see picture below!)

BETTER: to learn full details of these construction techniques, it is best that you attend an onsite course.

Courses are available in USA through Michael Reynolds EarthShip Academy, and South Australia at EarthShip IronBank, and at our own EarthShip Fleurieu.

 Courses are detailed in the Education Centre Menu above on this site. 

Can Wall v1

BETTER: to learn full details of these construction techniques, it is best that you attend an onsite course.

Courses are available in USA through Michael Reynolds EarthShip Academy, and South Australia at EarthShip IronBank, and at our own EarthShip Fleurieu.

 Courses are detailed in the Education Centre Menu above on this site.