Can Thermocol Reduce Noise? What are Some Alternatives?

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We all have a busy life, and noise somehow goes along with it!

Nowadays it’s getting harder and harder to isolate yourself from all the annoying sounds. The sound of silence seems so simple, but yet hardly achievable!

For that reason, people have been doing their best to discover the most efficient ways to soundproof their home so that they can enjoy a few minutes of peace.

In this article, I shall tell you more about thermocol. You will find out what it is, how it works and how good it is actually towards the environment.

can thermocol reduce noise

Get to Know Termocol

Before I tell you more about the properties of thermocol, I shall explain to you what is it actually.

If you have already done some research, you have surely seen that thermocol is often referred to as polystyrene. Are these two the same thing or there are differences?

Speaking of polystyrene, it’s a synthetic aromatic polymer made from monomer styrene. Monomer as a molecule has the power to bind to other molecules in a chemical process thus forming a polymer.

When I say synthetic aromatic, I mean it derives from benzene. It comes either in solid form or as a foam. This type of foam is also known as styrofoam. It’s a brand name by Dow Chemicals.

Polystyrene and thermocol are the same things. Thermocol is actually a commercial name which came into being in 1951.

That year, a group of researchers from the German company named BASF developed a substance they named thermocol.

Thermocol was actually a successfully restructured chemical bonding of polystyrene.

After being restructured, it got the ability to stretch. It became bigger in size without getting heavier.

How safe is thermocol for the environment?

Ever since thermocol came into being, there have been many arguments regarding the environmental safety issues.

Due to its applicability in many different fields, as well as the fact it’s a lightweight material, thermocol is getting more and more popular.

It’s an excellent resister of heat and cold and its insulation properties are amazing. Polystyrene is used for making disposable dishes and cutlery.

Packing peanuts are also widely used to protect products inside the boxes. Theromcol has low manufacturing costs and it can be mass produced.

However, despite all these, the fact that this material is basically a plastic still remains.

Being a petroleum product, it means thermocol dissolves in any petroleum solvent. It doesn’t degrade for hundreds of years and it resists to photolysis.

thermocol waste

When you burn thermocol, it emits CFC (chloro-fluoro carbon). These toxic fumes are carcinogenic. As I mentioned, it’s a lightweight material, so it floats on the water.

This represents an enormous choking hazard for marine life.

Here’s a short list which represents all the flaws of thermocol:

  • Carcinogenic (cancel causing) material
  • Non-biodegradable
  • Contaminates food and drink
  • Made of toxic and pollutant materials -benzene, dioxins, hydrofluorocarbon
  • Endangers the health of people working in manufacturing thermocol

Having all these in mind, it’s hard to make a final decision whether this is a good or bad stuff. Perhaps the best would be to raise the awareness on the potential risks of using this material.

However, the good news is that thermocol can be recycled and reused. It dissolves excellently in acetone or orange oil. All you need is to break it into small pieces and drop it in some of these substances.

The size can be reduced even more than 20 times. If you dissolve it in acetone, it becomes a clay-like substance and it can be used for model making. If you dissolve it in orange oil, it turns into a great adhesive.

thermocol-for-soundproofing

As you can see, there are many solutions which can make a compromise between the practical and polluting aspects of thermocol

Can Thermocol Reduce Noise?

Thermocol and Noise Absorption

Now that you know what is thermocol and what impact does it have on the environments, let’s discuss its noise absorption properties.

First of all, do know that soundproofing and sound absorption are not the same things. I have already written on that subject explaining the difference.

Having that in mind, thermocol cannot block sound. It’s not a soundproofing material.

If you are looking for a complete sound isolation, perhaps you should look for some other materials. The mass plays an important role in sound blocking.

Besides this, whatever is the material of your choice, you must place it properly.

Thermocol and noise reduction

Now that you know the difference between sound absorption and sound reduction, you will be happy to hear that thermocol can be used for the second one.

Basically, it’s a foam, and as such, it has the ability to reduce noise.

Foam is definitely among the cheapest insulation materials and you can use it in many different ways. You can use it to reduce noise in your studio.

There are many different foam bass traps and panels available. You can even use thermocol in cars if you want to solve the noise problem. These are just some of the usages we already discussed.

Speaking of noise reduction, if you want to be sure how good any material is in dealing with this problem, pay attention to its Sound Absorption Coefficient.

This coefficient for thermocol which is around 5cm thick is 0.3. That means that it will reduce the unwanted noise to a certain level but won’t block it.

does-thermocol-reduce-noise

Besides that, mind the STC. Sound Transmission Class or STC for short, is a rating which determines the level of noise reduction of different materials.

This particularly goes for doors, windows, and walls. These are the places one should pay special attention when thinking about sound blocking and isolation.

Sound travels through thin walls and those tiny holes near doors and windows.

What to use instead of thermocol for noise reduction?

Thermocol sounds like an attractive solution because it is easy to use and budget-friendly.

However, it does not solve the problem completely, and what’s worse it’s unfriendly towards the environment.

There are some alternatives you can try. When you start looking for additional solutions on how to solve the problems of unwanted sounds, you will see there are many of them.

The simplest one would be to buy a branded product which has many positive reviews and save yourself troubles.

However, this is usually a pricier option, which is why people look for something more affordable.

Speaking of budget-friendly solutions, they can be divided into two categories.

Those who do work even though they don’t cost a fortune and those which have a questionable effectiveness.

Some of the not-so-effective solutions are:

  • Cardboard - too thin
  • Soundproof wallpaper​​​ - again too thin
  • Soundproof paint - even if applying multiple coats of these “may” work with mid-range frequencies, still, there’s a problem with high-pitch and bass frequencies
  • Egg crates - extremely flammable hence very dangerous
egg cartons for soundproofing

Some of the effective solutions are:

Even though these can help, still if you want a long-term solution, quick fixes are not what you need.

If you want a permanent one, reinforce the doors, caulk the windows and insulate the walls. Only when you combine these with quick fixes, expect a significant change.

Other uses of thermocol

Since dealing with unwanted sounds is my main field of expertise here, I dedicated most of the article to answer the questions about thermocol soundproofing abilities.

However, this material has many other purposes as well. Thermocol is odorless, tasteless and fungi-resistant. Here are some of the usages:

  • The packaging of agricultural products
  • Pharmaceutical packaging
  • Construction sector
  • Disposable dishes and cutlery
  • Refrigerator components
  • Marine application

Conclusion: Can thermocol Reduce Noise?

Having in mind all the positive and negative aspects of thermocol, it’s really hard to give a final verdict. On one side, this material is a has numerous usages in various fields.

On the other hand, the fact that it’s not environment-friendly material plays an important role. Perhaps the most positive fact about it is that thermocol is a recyclable material.

Raising the awareness of the dangers of its long-term use and working on recycling solutions is the best compromise.

If you ask me, I would say thermocol does a good job in reducing the unwanted noise if combined with some other solutions. It is a cheap solution but requires a bit more effort than just buying a branded product.

However, do be careful how you use it and don’t use too much of it.

Have you had any experiences with thermocol?

Have you got more tips for me and our readers on alternative solutions?