Frequently Asked Questions about Cel-Pak Cellulose InsulationQ.: What is Cel-Pak?
A.: Cel-Pak is a premium quality cellulose insulation.
Q.: Who makes Cel-Pak?
A.: Cel-Pak is manufactured by National Fiber of Belchertown, MA.
Q.: What is Cel-Pak made from?
A.: Cel-Pak is made primarily from over-issue newsprint, along with other high-quality over-issue paper sources, and carefully selected post-consumer newsprint, typically from paper drives. As just one example, if a New England newspaper printed 1,000,000 copies yesterday, but only sold 750,000, National Fiber buys the remaining 250,000 in bulk and turns them into insulation.
Q.: So that's it? Cel-Pak is insulation made out of newspapers?
A.: There's a little more to it than that. The newspaper is first reduced to very small pieces in a machine called a hammermill, pieces just big enough to make out one letter from the original newspaper. In the next step, these tiny pieces are 'fiberized', that is, we go through another process that breaks them down to the component fibers of the original tree from which the newsprint was made. At this point, there's no resemblance to the original newspaper. Then a borate, a naturally occurring mineral, is added for fire, mold and pest control. Lastly, there is a tiny amount of mineral oil added, for dust control. The product is then bagged in 25 lb. bags.
Q.: What makes Cel-Pak 'premium quality'?
A.: National Fiber works hard to ensure that our Cel-Pak cellulose insulation is the highest grade cellulose insulation product available. We actually hand sort the paper going into our product to remove metal bands, twine, glossy or coated stock (like coupons) - anything that shouldn't be in your walls. We also don't use mixed, post-consumer recycled material, which means that the product is dry and doesn't contain pieces of plastic bags, cans, or bits of somebody's leftover foodstuffs. What's the benefit?
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Q.: Is Cel-Pak a 'green' building product?
A.: The short answer is, "Yes!"
The longer answer is that whether a product is green or not depends on a number of things. Being 'green' isn't a binary, or yes/no, proposition. The idea of 'green' exists more on a continuum, ranging from the decidedly un-green (let's say crude oil, for example, once it's extracted from the ground) to the really, really green (like a tree in a forest).
In the sense that any insulation can save energy, versus not using insulation, any insulation can more or less accurately claim to be a green product. We think it takes more critical thinking than that, and consideration of factors like:
So, 'green' is a complicated thing. (As Kermit says, "It's not easy being green!") We think Cel-Pak is, indeed, a green building product. On the continuum of commonly available, commonly used and economical insulation products, we even think Cel-Pak, when you consider all the factors, as well as how it performs in the real world, is 'greener' than the alternatives. We have a longer discussion of this issue here.
We encourage you to not take our word for it in any event. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions. We're pretty comfortable about where you'll end up in your choice of insulation.
Q.: Won't cellulose make my house more likely to burn down if I have a fire?
A.: No, in fact just the opposite. The borate (a naturally occurring mineral) added to the cellulose fiber ensures that cellulose insulation won't support combustion. In fact, here's a picture of what happens when cellulose is exposed to flame, in this case from a torch.
The very top layer of the insulation chars instantly, and that char protects everything underneath it, including the hands of our initially reluctant designer, John, who 'volunteered' for this picture at the photo shoot. (There is no trick involved in the photo, but we do not recommend you try this at home. And you should never, under any circumstance, try this with glass fiber or foam based insulations - you'll get badly burnt.)
The simple fact of the matter is that cellulose will perform better and provide better protection in the event of a fire than either fiberglass or sprayed foams (despite the fact that, when properly installed, all three have a Class A fire rating). For more information on this topic, take a look at our video on melting a copper slug, or this video of a large scale flame test.
Q.: My neighbor's house, insulated in the '80's, had settling problems. Will Cel-Pak settle?
A.: You're not going to have that problem with Cel-Pak, because there have been two significant changes since the 'old days' of cellulose insulation.
First, the way the product is manufactured. Today's product is fiberized, which allows for increased coverage and lower settled densities.
Second, the machines and techniques to install the product have been greatly upgraded. It may sound like a simple job, but it requires a technically sophisticated, truck or trailer mounted machine to properly install Cel-Pak. It also takes specialty training to learn how to correctly install Cel-Pak.
So with today's equipment and techniques, Cel-Pak is 'dense packed' in the walls of your building at twice its settled density. In simple terms, that means that the wall or ceiling cavity is filled and is actually under slight pressure from the material. It can't settle because there is no space left for it to settle into.
That covers dense pack cellulose installed in an enclosed cavity, like a wall. What about loose fill installation in your attic?
Some competitors to cellulose like to make much of the fact that loose fill cellulose, blown into an attic, settles, and therefore 'loses R-Value', or the consumer 'receives an R-Value less than what they paid for.' We're here to tell you, that's nonsense.
Your installer knows precisely how much loose fill cellulose will settle. They're equipped with a table that tells them how much cellulose to install to achieve the desired R-Value, as measured after the cellulose achieves its settled density.
So the plain truth is, the consumer always gets the R-Value they pay for, because the cellulose is installed to deliver that R-Value.
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