DIY Soil Stabilizer Recipe — 48 Comments

    • The best I can offer in response is to follow up on some of the leads suggested in the blog post, and also to do Googling of those phrases.

    • My research and development firm has an extensive set of solutions that is affordable and customised based on soil type and the function it needs to carry out (sub grade/ sub base/ bricks etc). I have visited Kenya a couple of years ago and carried out some tests with black cotton soil and have a fair understanding of the issues you need to deal with. Let me know what you need on soil stabilisation. I am available at or my mobile +919849537002.

  1. This is an old thread, so I don’t know if my comments will be read or not.

    Back in the late 60’s I obtained some information by a man who had developed a product while in the Peace Corps. Basically, he took agricultural waste (corn stalks, straw, etc.), turned it into a slurry, cooked it and added some chemicals. The cooking was to condense the slurry into some sugars. The chemicals then turned the sugars into a thermoplastic resin. He then used the resin to pave driveways, spray on thatched roofs to seal them, plaster walls, and pour into molds to make building blocks. All these were impervious to insects, weather and fire. He showed pictures of using a blowtorch on the blocks. They did not melt and did not catch fire. He did all this in a low-tech environment on-site.

    At the time, I talked with someone with an organic chemistry background, and he said it was basic chemistry, but I never got the details on how to do it. Perhaps someone can shed some light?

    • This seems possible. On the other hand, people are always looking for new business ideas. Why hasn’t anyone produced similar products? Maybe they’re not able to compete cost wise with petrochemical products?

  2. Maybe adding a teaspoon or two of liquid dish soap would be a good upgrade as an emulsifier to aid in getting it into the soil, but then it will take longer to dry and be open to moisture intrusion prolonging dry time. That would rule out application in wet conditions.

  3. 1 gallon Elmer’s to 5 gallons water and add 2 cups white vinegar. That’s the short answer of what worked pretty well for us.

  4. Perhaps you should use an additive also that creates a hydrophobic reaction to water..People are doing just that with Rammed Earth..The finished product is water repellent…throughout the mix…the whole entire wall becomes hydrophobic..thus preserving the wall from any degradation from water and winter freezing /thawing conditions…

  5. Magnesium sulfate is epsom salt, other ingredients can be found on the internet. A bioreactor is a vessel that maintains a certain temperature for a period of time. My plan was to wait until ambient temperatures were steady above 80 degrees farenheit and wrap a plastic drum with black plastic. My problem is there are no proportions of ingredients and I have been unsuccessful in finding that information on this thread. Recommended searches,with my limited knowledge of blogs, has been non-productive. Anyone want to actually paste a URL where that info can be found?

  6. I had no idea that enzymes could be fermented to create a soil stabilizer. It sounds like a lot of work goes into this recipe, much more than I would want to do on my own. I wouldn’t know were to find a bioreactor or magnesium sulfate anyway. I guess in my case it would be better to call a professional to stabilize the loose soil on my property.

  7. Has anyone published an actual recipe with amounts of what products? Temperatures, pH, times, specific methodology, etc would be so very helpful. I will be trying this as soon as ambient temperatures come up in my location. Don’t want to have to actually heat the mix. Stirring daily not a problem, monitoring not a problem.

      • Owen,
        I ran a search off your homepage and did not see recipes when soil stabilizer was used as the search criteria. Any further suggestions to find that recipe? TIA

        • Check the last several articles on soil stabilizers. Someone left a detailed recipe in the Comments section. Check here first. Then check my Geopolymer House blog if you can’t find it here.

          • Hi Owen!

            Sorry, but I don’t find the detailed recipe! I read all about soil stabilizer. Please give me more help!

          • It’s on my Geopolymer Houses blog. Keep looking. Search the site using search terms, etc.

      • No, I could never find it regardless of the claim that it was present. There was one article that spoke of the ingredients, however, no recipe of the proportions, method of production or anything of any detail. So, no recipe found. Certainly no one that had actually “made” the product was found. Sad to say.

          • On facebook Nica7 Enzyme, found this: How to produce a road stabilize enzym…., but “404 not found”.
            and Nica write to me:
            “I apologize, my website got hacked and then deleted … we will have to start a new one when we have the time.”

        • On facebook Nica7 Enzyme, found this: How to produce a road stabilize enzym…., but “404 not found”.
          and Nica write to me:
          “I apologize, my website got hacked and then deleted … we will have to start a new one when we have the time.”

          • The original article was lacking in details as to the exact proportions and steps to be taken to complete the process. We use a stabilizer to make SCEB and would love to be able to find a true DIY formula.

          • Yes, lots of people would like detailed, step by step, cookbook style DIY directions. There may be some obscure technical books available somewhere. That’s probably where the owners of soil stabilizer companies got their information. Any librarians out there who can tap into interlibrary loans and find a book like this? Maybe I should do a blog post asking for help.

  8. hii owen
    my home is in Kenya working in saudi arabia our 2 kilometer stretch from tarmac road is impassable for 6 months every year
    additional information needed – duration of fermentation process mixing ratio, optimum temperature and PH regulation

    thank you

  9. Sir: I am a General Contractor in Florida and can assure you that despite the hurricane ties, the devisation caused by high winds on buildings with wide overhangs is the reason we have changed codes to lessen that possibility.

    • Yes, you’ll have to adjust the size of overhangs if you’re in a severe hurricane zone, and use other roof strengthening steps. But my general advice is still valid. You could build a very strong roof that will be windproof and then replace the metal if it blows off. It’s one strategy to consider.

  10. Thank you again, I will look into waterglass.
    I was just thinking around Superadobe Domes and I really would like to avoid any roof structure to preserve the simplicity of the dome shape.


    • Domes evolved in deserts and will eventually suffer moisture damage in rainier climates. Consider making a rainscreen. Search this blog for that keyword.

  11. The wide overhangs do indeed help to prevent erosion at the baseline, but the also make it easy for a violent storm to rip off the roof, and destroy mush of the building.

    • Not necessarily. The metal might fly off, but the trusses or wood or metal framing could be securely fastened with hurricane ties. It’s fast and easy to replace metal roofing.

  12. Why would you build a building in a rainy environment without a stabilizer? The purpose of the stabilizer is the keep it all (soil) together. I can only imagine the deterioration of the walls at the baseline as the rain drips off the roof and splashed up against the walls.

    • Probably 99% of earthbag houses don’t use stabilizers. (Stabilizers are mostly used on domes.) Simply use gravel bags until you’re above the risk of moisture damage and then start the earthbags.

  13. Thank you for your reply Owen,

    We always try to plan our building works in order to avoid to work under the rain.

    Just one thought: imagine the case where we build the walls with normal soil mix (no stabilizer) and then we just plaster with a stabilized mix; do you think that the two mix different elastic momentum would generate cracks?

    • I wouldn’t think so. But look into using waterglass as a water repellant.

      Also note, use wide roof overhangs and then you don’t have to worry about moisture damage.

  14. Hi All,

    I’m building with superadobe since a while in Kenya and I’m still facing problems with heavy rains and humid climate.
    Got in touch recently with PermaZyme branch in West Africa and all seems promising.
    My only questions are:

    Did some of you already used this kind of enzymes in a rammed earth building? Any thought?

    The guys at PermaZyme are telling me that the mix became rock solid and waterproof but loose the capacity to breathe, which for us is one of the most important characteristic of the soil, any idea or suggestion on this?

    It seems that the product works up to 25 years, anyone knows what will happen after?

    Thank to all for any help,


    • Provide for adequate ventilation and you shouldn’t have trouble.

      Rammed earth is rammed earth (assuming proper soil mix and solid tamping). Once it sets up and the walls are plastered then it can last centuries.

      Put up big tarps and work under cover if there’s a lot of rain.

      And no, I’ve never used any stabilizers. In most cases they’re not needed.

  15. maybe just so dumb and backwards?! we have had cow manures ,, sticky, gooey, seems to have worked in many places, good for houses, don’t think appropriate for roads.

  16. I only said that the stabilizer I bought looks and smells like elmers. I have alot of the stabilizer to use and once that is gone, will buy the elmers to try. The elmers type of glue sells locally for about 12$/gal., much less than the stabilizer. With the stabilizer, I mixed 4 parts of water with 1 part of stabilizer and noticed a profound “stickiness” to my soil that was very sandy, having about 10-15% clay and fines.

  17. Using Elmer’s style glue is very interesting. It would be helpful if you told us about what ratio to soil, or how to tell you have enough but not too much.

    There is an article in my book “Earthbag Building” by Hunter and Kiffmeyer about making your own “Homemade Milk Binder”, which is made with skim milk, white vinegar and Borax (20 Mule Team stuff) (page 192). They compare it to Elmer’s Glue. I think it would be much cheaper to make it by the gallon or liter.

  18. I agree. I think someone, someday will come up with it. We are going to use some elmers type glue, which looks, smells and has the same consistancy as the road builder enzyme we purchased.

  19. While it might be interesting to try to concoct the ideal cheap enzyme for stabilization, unless you have a lab and testing ability, it might seem more practical to use portland cement. We use a combination to acheive superior results (psi of 1200 to 1500). We would certainly welcome the opportunity to use a less costly product, but after reading your suggested method of producing the enzyme, we would prefer to use a proven formula for our production. If you ever go into the enzyme production business, please contact us.

    • True, do-it-yourself enzyme production probably isn’t going to happen for the average owner builder. Still, it’s good to get this information out in the public domain more because some people will likely benefit.

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