Tires are one of the key materials used to build Earthships. This has led to many people wondering if the tires used in Earthships are toxic. It can be concerning to know about tires off-gassing and wondering if the tires used in Earthships can leak these gasses into the home. 

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Are the used tires in Earthships toxic?

Tires all have levels of toxicity due to what they are made of. When tires are exposed to sunlight, they begin to degrade and release toxic gasses as they break down. Tires used in Earthships are covered in cement or stucco, so there is no exposure to any toxic vapors in the Earthship.

Being well informed about tire toxicity is important if you are building an Earthship so you are aware of the materials that you are using. Living in an Earthship does not put you at risk of being exposed to the toxic gasses that tires can release.  

Tires are a great material to use to build Earthships, and you will not be exposed to any toxic vapors when living in an Earthship. The information in this guide was researched and reviewed by experts in the tire industry as well as Earthship construction professionals.

Are The Tires Used In Earthships Toxic?

Although tires are toxic, they are not exposing you to any toxicity when used in Earthships. This is due to the fact that the tires are stacked to create the wall of the Earthship and then covered in either cement or stucco. 

The tires used in Earthships are not exposed to the sun, which is what will typically cause them to put off harmful vapors. Tires that are degrading will begin to break down in the sun and then start to off-gas.  

In order for tires in an Earthship to be toxic, the vapors would have to travel from the tires, through the walls, and into the Earthship. Since they have zero sun exposure and a thick wall between them and whoever is living on the Earthship, there is no risk when using tires for an Earthship. 

What Is Tire Off-Gassing?

When a tire off gasses, that means it is leaking chemicals and pollutants into the environment. This could mean that it is getting into the air as well as the soil if it is placed on the ground. 

All tires have some level of toxic chemicals in them, but new tires will have more toxic chemicals than older tires will. Over time, tires will degrade as they are exposed to sunlight and the elements. This will cause the tire to release the gasses that are inside.  

There is some controversy about the vapors and gasses that tires give off, but due to the materials that they are made out of, it is most likely that they do put off some level of toxins. 

Are Old Tires Less Toxic?

New tires are toxic due to them being brand new and not having any time to degrade or release the toxic chemicals that they are made with. 

Older tires that have sat around for many years are most likely going to be less toxic as they have had more time to degrade and off gas. Therefore, some people tend to use old tires so they can reduce the risk of toxicity. 

Most of the tires that will be used for Earthships are going to be old tires. Earthships require such a large number of tires that most people will not want to spend money on hundreds of new tires. 

Why Are Tires Used In Earthships?

Earthships are off grid homes and their structure is intended to create thermal mass as well as a strong structure. When building an Earthship, it is built out of materials that are recycled and natural. 

Tires are the most durable material that can be used to create the structure of an Earthship. It is an ideal way to repurpose old tires that may just be sitting around in a landfill. The tires are filled with earth material and then covered in stucco or cement, which creates a durable and sustainable structure. 

Along with durability, tires provide thermal mass and allow Earthships to regulate the internal temperature better. The tires will absorb the heat throughout the day and release the heat during the night, which keeps the temperature comfortable throughout the day. 

An important part of living off grid is the ability to be self-sufficient. Using tires to build an Earthship will help to alleviate the need for any heating or cooling systems which adds to self-sufficiency. 

Where Do You Get Tires For Earthships?

Earthships can require several hundred tires to build, depending on the size of the Earthship. The tires make up the entire outer structure for most Earthships, so it is important to have enough tires to stack to provide the most durable walls. 

Tire shops are a place that you can contact to see if they have used tires. Some tire shops may let you take very old tires for free if they cannot resell them. Tire shops may also have used tires for sale at a significantly discounted price. 

Some landfills may let you come collect tires that are just sitting there. You can contact your local landfills and ask them if this is an option. Since you will be needing a large number of tires, the more that you can potentially get for free, the better. Taking them out of landfill is also doing something great for the environment. 

It is also a good idea to check online and in places such as Craigslist. People may have tires for sale for quite cheap, or you may come across someone who has a larger number of tires that they are giving away. 

As with any type of structure or home, you must research local regulations and building codes in your area prior to beginning the building process.

Using tires to build a home is not illegal, but there may be different environmental regulations that you must follow depending on what state or county you live in. There are also certain areas where Earthships may not be able to be built, so it is important to find out what the regulations and codes are in your area before you make any decisions about where and when you want to build your Earthship. 

You will most likely need a permit to build your Earthship, so you must acquire that building permit as well as find out if you need to contact any specific environmental agencies in order to use the number of tires that are required. 

There are certain areas that already have Earthship communities. If you choose to build an Earthship in an already established community, you will be less likely to have a hard time getting permits because the people that live there will have already gone through the process. 

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