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6 Fascinating Benefits of Rice Husks


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6 Fascinating Benefits of Rice Husks

Renewable, Sustainable Rice Husk: A World of Possibilities

Who knew that something as small and seemingly insignificant as a tiny grain of rice could be the secret behind some of today’s most Earth-friendly consumer goods and products? It’s true. Rice—or more specifically, the husk covering each kernel of rice—is getting lots of attention as a more sustainable, lower-cost option for many applications.

What Is Rice Husk?

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You may remember from biology class that husks (or hulls) are the protective coverings of seeds and grains like rice. Mostly indigestible to humans, these lightweight but very hard coatings protect the seed during the growing season, and are then typically discarded when the grain is milled. Often, that’s where the story would end.

But rice husk is a bulky material. In fact, about 20% (by volume) of a rice paddy harvest consists of the leftover husks. And finding a way to dispose of all these husks has traditionally been a challenge for farmers. However this challenge has led to the discovery of several entirely new uses for the once-problematic rice husk.

What to Do with All Those Husks?

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Interestingly, dealing with the overabundance of rice husks has resulted in their emergence as a valuable trade commodity. For example, scientists have discovered that the properties of rice husks make them perfect for inclusion in materials like cement, insulation and composites like particle board, as well as a renewable source of fuel and more. Rice husks are even used to help electrify villages in places like Myanmar, which grows more than 13 million tons of rice every year.

Benefits of Rice Husk

  • 1. Its high silica content makes it useful for strengthening building materials
  • 2. It resists fungal decomposition
  • 3. It resists moisture penetration
  • 4. It decomposes slowly
  • 5. It insulates well
  • 6. It’s renewable

According to Gizmag.com, researchers from the University of California, Riverside, created particle board from rice husks to combat termites in the Philippines. Rice husks were shown to be:

  • Less expensive and more abundant than the wood chips found in traditional particle board
  • Termite-resistant because of their silica, which termites have difficulty consuming
  • Potentially preferable to typical particle board, which often contains formaldehyde in the glue holding the wood chips together. This can off-gas toxic fumes.

Tires use rice husks

And even the ash byproduct resulting from the incineration of discarded rice husks is finding a home. A major tire company uses the ash as a source of silica for its rubber tires. Richard J. Kramer, chairman and CEO of Goodyear, described the benefits of silica derived from rice husk ash in a news release saying, “This new silica benefits the environment in many ways. It reduces waste going into landfills; it requires less energy to produce; and it helps make tires more fuel efficient.”

Rice husk is a sustainable resource, and it’s emerging as a value-added material across a variety of applications. What a wonderful way to reduce waste while preserving resources and saving money—not to mention benefitting the countries where most of the world’s rice is grown!

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About 700 million tons of rice husk is produced each year. That’s a lot of hull!

comment_2Have you explored alternatives to traditional building methods or materials in your home projects? We’d love to hear about it! Just leave us a comment below.

Resources:
Wikipedia: Rice Hulls
IRRI: A second life for rice husk
EPA: Rice Husk: A Sustainable Building Material for the Philippines
GizMag: Rice husks may find use in cheaper, greener, longer-lasting particleboard
Myanmar Insider: Rice Husk – A Useful By-Product For Rice Growing Countries
Clean Technica: Rice Husks: Goodyear’s New Source Of Silica
Cleveland Business News: Goodyear reaches supply agreement for rice husk silica
Crain’s Cleveland Business: Goodyear Reaches Supply Agreements for Rice Husk Ash Silica
International Journal of Emerging Technology and Advanced Engineering: Properties and Industrial Applications of Rice husk

Had you been aware that rice husk was an environmentally friendly building material?

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Shauna Runnion-Bareford
Shauna Runnion-Bareford
4 years ago

I love when a solution creates more solutions! So cool!

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
4 years ago

Thanks for your response, Shauna. We thought that was pretty cool too!

Robbie Sennish
Robbie Sennish
4 years ago

This is fascinating! Who had any idea!

Sabrina Colburn
Sabrina Colburn
4 years ago

140 million tons of rice husks is a lot of husks. It is unimaginable what this would look like in 10 years. Thanks for the information.

Bobbie Maselli
Bobbie Maselli
11 months ago

….Installed in the attics…of 140 million homes…..#2000lbs/home…..would cut…green house gasses…save 20%…total energy consumption…paying for itself.in four years…….$1200/home cost……….in four years….employing….2 million…at $25/hr…50k year……generating..$.100,000,000,000….that’s right…a…$ 100billion……..we could always…burn it….BAD IDEA…throw it in the ocean….look out…MARINE EXISTENCE….no….it belongs…in your….ATTIC…sorry…RUSSIA…sorry..SAUDI ARABIA…..have you tried…fishing for a living

Heather Schumm
Heather Schumm
4 years ago

Good to know!! Thanks for sharing.

Leah Rissien
Leah Rissien
4 years ago

I thought the idea of a rice husk cutting board was cool but now I see that rice husks can do so much more! Fascinating!

Amy Hepfner
Amy Hepfner
4 years ago

Wow!! This is an amazing article!! I’m so excited over our rice husk cutting board, but I had no idea the potential of rice husks in the world!! Thanks Amy!!

Sophia DeLonghi
Sophia DeLonghi
4 years ago

Isn’t it amazing that we have natural resources that we haven’t even begun to tap into? Environmentally better too!

Tanya Aoyagi
Tanya Aoyagi
4 years ago

I love that Goodyear is getting on board with this! It’s always amazing to see a major company work towards caring for our earth!

Ramona Saavalainen
Ramona Saavalainen
4 years ago

Very neat and cool idea on how to use rice husks in many different things! Thanks for this great article!

Angela Black
Angela Black
4 years ago

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing

Ann Knick
Ann Knick
4 years ago

Wow! This is one of the happiest environmental stories ever!! So glad to know it exists and has so much potential to better our environment!

Karen Codrington
Karen Codrington
4 years ago

I really love my Norwex cutting board. Looking forward to more products such as this. 🙂

Heather Cates
Heather Cates
4 years ago

I absolutely love stories like this, waste being turned in to new products. Cuts down on waste in the landfill and the use of virgin materials. It’s a total win win.

Norine Dixon
Norine Dixon
4 years ago

A great and inspiring article. It’s so good to read about companies doing something positive for our environment.

Vonda Cole
Vonda Cole
4 years ago

So excited that Norwex is leading the way and using rice husks in the cutting board.

Ashley Morgan
Ashley Morgan
4 years ago

That’s amazing! Our new cutting board is one of my favourite new products, but this article left me wondering about the biodegradability because it talks about how it decomposes slowly and resists fungal decomposition. Could you touch on that for us? Thanks!

Moderator
Admin
Moderator
4 years ago
Reply to  Ashley Morgan

Ashley, thank you for your inquiry about Norwex products. Norwex Movement is a separate division of Norwex that exists to help people create safer havens in their homes by raising awareness about planetary issues that affect us all. Our policy is to direct all Norwex-specific inquiries to Customer Care. In the U.S., please contact 1-866-450-7499. In Canada, please contact 1-877-766-7939.

Hope Beach
Hope Beach
4 years ago

Great article! It’s always nice to see that things aren’t wasted when they can get put to good use somewhere else.

Melissa Short
Melissa Short
4 years ago

So many uses for something that was a problem to get rid of before! I read this to my hubby and he was impressed with the use of it in particle board. He wasn’t aware of the formaldehyde in the glue for that process. I love the fact that it is a natural source able to be used for strength and insulation!

adela
adela
4 years ago

my sister’s new kitchen remodel has cupboards made of bamboo. Beautiful

Jennifer Rottman
Jennifer Rottman
3 years ago

I found this fascinating. I had no idea.

Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
3 years ago

I am not very familiar with rice husks for use in products.. I actually kind of want to get my hands on that Norwex cutting board now!

Mohammed jato
Mohammed jato
2 years ago

I have known this for long and am even working on it has my project.

Therisa Ford
Therisa Ford
1 year ago

That’s dandy but is it safe to consume? I see rice hull concentrate as an ingredient in my pills. Anyone have the answer? I read where rice hulls are indigestible but when made into dust, can it harm people? I’m trying to take supplements but need something that’s not going to cause gut problems.

Severin
Severin
1 year ago

i am looking for a company where i can possibly design/customise bowls etc. for my vegan food startup according to my needs.
It would be very nice to take a closer look at this rice husk product.

Thank you for your help!!

PS: i’m based in Switzerland