There are so many sound-absorbing materials out there, but some of them can be harmful to the health of you and your family. So, what are the best natural sound-absorbing materials?
The best natural sound-absorbing material is pure cotton. Other natural materials for sound absorption include MDF, bamboo, and coconut husk. These materials work just as well for sound absorption as synthetic materials but are safe for your health and often cheaper than other materials.
Let’s look at some of the best natural sound-absorbing materials available on the market today and why they work well, and how long these materials last.
Some are more effective than others, some are less expensive than others, but they are all-natural, environmentally friendly, easy to find, and safe for everyone in the area.
Do Natural Sound Absorbing Materials Work Well?
Natural sound-absorbing materials are quickly becoming some of the most used products for sound absorption and acoustic treatment, but how well do they actually work?
Some natural materials have been found to work as well or more effectively than synthetic materials for sound absorption and acoustic treatment, and they are often much for affordable.
When deciding on natural materials to use for sound absorption, the factor that determines how well the material will work for your specific needs is the type of sound and the frequencies that you are trying to absorb, dampen or contain.
Low frequencies are very difficult to absorb, as they carry a lot of energy in very difficult to manage wavelengths. Medium and high range frequencies are slightly easier to contain, but they have to be absorbed and dispersed because of the speed at which they travel.
The type of sound, the source of the sound, and the frequencies that need to be managed are the factors that must be considered when using natural materials for sound absorption.
The best way to use natural materials for sound absorption is to use multiple layers and types of materials, each with its own strengths and properties for absorbing and dispersing particular frequencies and sounds.
Dense materials are best for absorbing low-frequency sounds, and porous materials best for absorbing and dispersing medium and high range frequency sounds.
Using these materials in conjunction with each other will allow you to use only natural materials for all of your sound dampening and sound absorption requirements.
Porous materials are useful for trapping and dispersing medium and range frequencies because of the flexibility within the material and air pockets within the material.
The material’s flexibility allows the material to flex and move with the frequencies of the sound that comes into contact with it, absorbing the acoustic energy and converting it into heat energy.
The air pockets within porous materials allow the sound to be slowed down more efficiently within the material because the pockets of air create discrepancies in the resonance of the material, rather than the material all being at the same level of resonance.
This means that every solid part of the porous material will vibrate on its own, rather than the entire piece of material resonating together, which does not allow the sound to be propagated through the material. It is slowed down and trapped by all the different mini resonance chambers within the material.
Dense materials are better for absorbing low range frequencies, as these frequencies do not travel very fast, but they hold a high level of acoustic energy. That means that the wavelength of the sound causes surfaces that it comes into contact to vibrate relatively slowly but powerfully.
For this reason, dense sound-absorbing materials must be used for low frequencies, as they are challenging to move. This means that they will be able to withstand the force of the sound that they are absorbing.
Dense materials also work well for low range frequencies because they can slow down and dissipate the sound because they do not move with the frequencies that are coming into contact with the material.
Many natural sound-absorbing materials meet these criteria, and so there are many natural materials that work exceptionally well for sound absorption, as long as the right material is used for the type of sound that must be absorbed.
What Is The Best Type Of Natural Sound Absorbing Material?
The best overall type of natural sound absorption material is cotton.
Cotton fibers are very porous and absorbent while simultaneously being very dense. Natural cotton fibers can be used in various ways to absorb sound.
Natural cotton is a natural material that is hygienic, resistant to mold, fungi, germs, heat, and an excellent insulator for cold.
This excellent material is cheap to buy, easy to find, straightforward to work with, versatile, and may be made from recycled cotton, making it environmentally friendly as well.
Cotton can be made into very dense compressed pads that can be used as typical acoustic or sound absorption panels. These pads can be aerated to make them more porous while still being very dense, which makes them perfect for absorbing almost all frequencies.
The dense cotton pads can be made into almost any shape, so they are equally as versatile as acoustic panels that are made from synthetic materials and foams.
Cotton can be formed into sturdy denim fabric, which is a very good material for stopping and absorbing sound when it is used as drapes or a wall hanging. The rigidity of denim coupled with the flexibility of hanging it from a rail and the air that is trapped behind the drapes will be able to sound treat almost any space, especially if the denim is hung in layers.
The versatility of pure cotton allows it to be used on the floor as a mat or carpet, on the walls and panels, hung as drapes, or even within the room’s walls or ceiling as open-cell sound insulation.
The unique properties of cotton make it more than capable of easily dealing with any frequency range, whether low, medium, or high-frequency ranges
The multiple ways cotton can be used make it one of the most all-around versatile sound absorption materials, even when synthetic materials are considered.
4 Natural Absorbing Materials To Use
Many natural materials can be used for sound absorption and acoustic treatment, but which are the best materials to use?
Below is a shortlist of the 4 best natural sound absorption materials that are readily available right now:
1. Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Medium-density fiberboard is an engineered wood-based product that is made from processed woods. This material is excellent for sound absorption within a building, being placed within drywalling, or for the use of making the wall panels.
The high-density fibers within MDF, the fragmented nature of the wood particles that are used, and the fact they are composite woods that are held together with resin all mean that MDF has excellent sound absorption properties compared to other rigid, flat materials.
The wood particles in MDF are all fundamentally separated from each other, being held together with a resin, which means that they do not resonate well together. This aspect of MDF makes the material suitable for sound absorption as it will reflect much less sound than other solid wood panels.
MDF is very easy to work with, which means that it can be cut and shaped into almost any dimension. Many companies make acoustic treatment panels out of MDF. These panels are flat boards of MDF that have vertical strips and segments of MFD attached in such a way that scatters and absorbs sound waves rather than reflecting them.
MDF is mostly natural, being made from wood, but it is 8% resin to hold the wood particles together into a board or panel.
This material is very readily available from any hardware or building supply store. MDF is very affordable, depending on the quality.
MDF is available in different densities and qualities. Higher density MDF is good for sound reflection, but low density, porous MDF is the best to use for sound absorption, as the porous nature of the composite wood is excellent for trapping frequencies within the material.
Similar to MDF as a sound absorption material, this natural wood is very good for sound absorption and insulation.
Bamboo is a relatively soft wood with a very low density. This means that bamboo fibers are very porous, which is good for sound absorption.
The more air that is in between the fibers of solid material, the better the material is for sound absorption. The air between the fibers helps trap the sound waves and prevent them from passing through the material.
Bamboo fibers can be used in multiple ways for sound absorption. Some of the most common ways are to use bamboo shavings, known as bamboo fiber, and solid panels and sheets of bamboo.
Bamboo fiber is extremely porous and is used for insulation within walls and ceilings. This material is not only good for temperature regulation, but it is also excellent for sound absorption.
Bamboo sound panels are shaped bamboo wood panels that are designed to scatter sound waves as they pass over the boards.
Bamboo is an all-natural material, having no glues or any other additives at all. However, bamboo can be an expensive material to obtain in the quantities that you may require for sound absorption purposes.
3. Coconut Husk
Coconut husk is similar to bamboo fibers regarding their sound absorption.
This material is extremely porous and fibrous, which are both important qualities for sound absorption. The drawback of using coconut husk for sound absorption is the fact that it is very light.
The fibrous nature of coconut husk, coupled with how light the material is, means that a considerable amount of coconut husk must be used to be adequate for any insulation or sound absorption purposes.
The coconut husk must be compressed to be as dense as possible within the space, or it will not absorb much sound at all.
Coconut husk is very cheap to buy if it has not been processed at all, but processed or compressed coconut husk that has been formed into blocks or sheets can be much more expensive.
Coconut husk is an excellent, all-natural sound absorbing material that is very readily available.
4. Pure Cotton Fibers
Cotton is the best natural material to use for sound absorption.
This material is incredibly versatile. It can be used in many different forms to absorb, block, trap, and disperse sound waves from almost all frequencies produced by the human voice, musical instruments, power tools, most speakers, and ambient noises.
Cotton fibers can be used as dense panels, porous sheets, or loose material for open-cell insulation, and even made into other fabrics such as denim.
Sound absorbing and sound treatment panels that are made from cotton are compressed cotton fibers that are shaped into blocks or sheets. This material is very dense while still remaining very porous. This is a perfect recipe for sound absorption.
Pure natural cotton can be used as dense blocks or panels, or it can be used as fibers within walls or ceilings to absorb sound in the structure of the building as well.
Denim that has been made from pure cotton is a great sound absorption material as well, especially if it is used in layers with air in between.
Layers of denim drapes are ideal for sound absorption, and an under-rug mat of cotton denim is excellent for these purposes as well.
One of the few problems with using pure cotton as a sound absorption material is the fact that it can be expensive, especially if it has been processed.
Pure cotton is one of the best sound absorption materials on the market overall, not only in the category of natural materials.
How Long Will Natural Sound Absorbing Materials Last?
Most natural sound-absorbing materials are not as long-lasting as synthetic materials due to the fact that many of them are biodegradable.
Some natural materials, such as coconut husk and bamboo fibers, are susceptible to moisture and decomposition, especially if they are untreated. For this reason, it is best to ensure that all-natural materials that are being used for sound absorption to be kept as dry and sealed as possible.
Other materials, such as pure cotton, will last as long or longer than synthetic materials in most instances. Natural, pure cotton is fire resistant, mold and bacteria-resistant, dries quickly, and very tough.
Cotton is one of the best sound absorption materials for many reasons, one of which is how long this material will last without going bad, decomposing, or disintegrating.
If the material that you are using for sound absorption is kept dry, well treated, and looked after, then it should last for as long as you need it to without needing to be replaced.
Synthetic materials are not always the best option for sound absorption, especially within a home, or exposed in a room where people are often present, such as a recording studio or workshop.
Synthetic materials are best used within walls and ceilings within the construction of the building to prevent causing any harm to the occupants of the space.
Synthetic materials are often not biodegradable, which means that when the material is no longer in use and is discarded, it is harmful to the environment.
Natural sound-absorbing materials are highly effective, affordable, easily available, and environmentally friendly.
These materials will not disintegrate into the air, causing any health problems to occupants of the building that they in; therefore, they are safe to use for everyone.
Pure cotton is the best natural sound-absorbing material available at the moment. This material is slightly more expensive than other natural sound-absorbing materials, but it is highly effective, very versatile, and easy to obtain.
Cotton is excellent for absorbing sound over a broad spectrum of frequencies, volumes and from many different sources, making it perfect for absorbing sound in a recording studio, workshop, house, office, or anywhere else where sound treatment is required.
Suppose you are looking for sound absorbing material that will be very effective over a wide variety of sound spectrums, easy to find, safe, environmentally friendly, and versatile. In that case, then pure cotton, MDF, coconut husk, or bamboo are all excellent natural sound absorption options!