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[Mail: Kenn@Bobbinmaker.com ]

Information on Ethafoam

Below are a couple of source URL's on ethafoam -

Thanks to everyone for the great suggestions! I have compiled them into one "hint-list", in case anyone else is looking for sources. Try writing to Snow Goose... he uses ethafoam and it is wonderful stuff... I have even gotten him to make blocks to my specs... Good luck! His address is Snogoos@aol.com.
Later, Bobbi

(LeAnn's note: several people suggested Snowgoose. The travel pillow looks a little small - is there anyone who is using it with midlands bobbins, and how many can you squeeze on it? I want a block pillow of some kind to take with me to Arachne 98 for the beds class, and it looks like I would need space for 16 - 20 pairs. I don't want to buy travel bobbins, their function is too limited for me, for now. I may see if they can send me the blocks, and I'll build the rest.) I have just had a fabulous experience, myself, in finding ethafoam. I was at a garage sale and got a foam step (as in exercise) for $5. It's a Denise Austin step, in black pink and turq, but my debate is to cut it into layers, or leave it thick and whole. It stands about 6" high, maybe more. I have no idea what they are worth new, but it might be worth looking into. Maybe they are not too expensive? Came with a tape, too! Good luck. I talked to an upholstery guy here, and he says it's hard to get and expensive. I picked up a 1" sheet at a garage sale years ago, paid $1. He said that it has been packing foam. Maybe try packaging and shipping suppliers. Lauren Snyder in Washington State I went through the same searches here in NM for ethafoam. I finally (out of desperation) called a moving and storage place and they had it. You may need to try a few, but it's used more by them than any other supply shop. They use it to pack the military family's fine vases, etc. I hope this helps!

Laura, I would suggest seeking out some of the upholstry shops, of large fabric shops. Chain stores like JoAnns Fabrics carries a lot of ethafoam here. If you don't find any there, then check out automotive trim shops as they use it in upholstering vehicles.
Enjoy, Kenn

At one time I found a place called Bob's Foam Factory on the internet. (altavista) they are in Cal. hope this helps. Ruth in east Tex. Thanks again for the amazing response!
LeAnn Smith in Oregon

To add to the list of sources: I first heard of ethafoam as being good for pillows from a lacemaker in the UK. Time passed, I didn't think I could find this product where I live, then when I attended a workshop in museum conservation, ethafoam was mentioned as a suitable (i.e. chemically inert) packing material for artifacts. This plastic could be carved to fit fragile items like vases and it made a 'quake resistant package (our area being one interested in Earthquake Preparedness).

I know that there are already alot of answers to this topic, but I thought that it wouldn't hurt to add one more. Ethafoam is also used for archery butts (the thing you stick the target to that the arrows land in). So archery stores, sporting goods stores, and even Wal-Mart are additional possibilities.
Liz Wilcox, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

I have replied to LeAnn about foam. Someone in England once told me that they kind of foam they use in their pillows cannot be bought/sold in the US. (Enviormental? Safety? reasons?) Anyway, maybe it can be ordered from somewhere in Canada, and the postage would be less than from Europe__which is awful!
Alice Thomson

I stopped at Industrial Plastics in Victoria(BC) and got an end-cut of 2" ethafoam for $12 (CAD of course). I got two rectangular pillows out of the deal. So a plastics shop, one that sells resins and other goop, is anothersource. Ethafoam by the linear foot is expensive here so go for the remnants. The pool toys called "water noodles" or "tundra noodles" are made of ethafoam. For a couple of bucks you get plenty of roller material, but if you were to buy 4-inch diam. ethafoam from the plastics shop it would cost much more!
Bev W. in Sooke, BC Canada

Later on this discussion came up again. You can read through the posting but the end conclusion is that Styrofoam© is the material of use and choice in the U.K. and that Ethafoam© is the choice in America. It all started with the innocent question below.

Can anyone tell me what ethafoam is?

I know that polystyrene is the white stuff used in packaging, and denser moulded polystyrene is used to make moulded lace pillows, but can be dented by pressure. Industrial grade Styrofoam is pale blue and makes a much harder and more self-healing pillow. But what is ethafoam?
Jean Nathan in Poole, Dorset, U.K.

It's my understanding that Ethafoam is a brand name for a self-healing foam insulation. It is a polyethylene composition, and many of the cookie pillows in the US are made of this material.
Mary Tod, in Baltimore, MD

Ethafoam is inert polyethylene that is easy to cut and shape and conforms to preservation standards. Unlike styrofoam it hold up under constant pining and holds them in place. It comes in different densities so not all ethafoam is created equal.
Lori Howe

Styrofoam is a name brand of polystyrene, a polymer (long chain) of styrene molecules. Ethafoam is brand name for another polymer, polyethylene. It is made "foamy" by blowing gas through it. Polyethylene lasts longer and is more inert chemically than polystyrene, so polyethylene foam is considered "archival quality". Ethafoam (and other brands) is widely used in museums for making supports and pads for artifacts.
Robin Panzar

Hi Jean,
Ethafoam is a brand name owned by Dow Chemical for the polymer polyethylene. It can be shaped and is used primarily in the packaging industry where higher protection standards are required during shipment and in the boating industry for flotation. It is also considered inert and has found a use in museums and such. Ethafoam will absorb damage and reform to its shape whilst Styrofoam will absorb damage and retain the dented area. Lacemakers have found that it is a viable product for lace pillows because of those qualities. It will "self heal" when pins are placed into it and last much longer then the Styrofoam. Of course it will eventually deteriate as well but not as quickly.

The differences that you will notice between Ethafoam and Styrofoam are quite noticeable. Styrofoam has a hard, dry, crusty feel to it when picked up. Ethafoam has a softer feel, and feels a bit more "rubbery" or plastic feel to it. The biggest difference in the two, though, is availability and price. Styrofoam is commercially available in most D.Y.I. or home improvement stores as an wall insulation product in 1" to 2" thickness. Ethafoam is harder to find in sizes useful to lacemakers. Just a couple of weeks ago I finally found a company that I can purchase full sheets of the stuff. But that is only because it is wholesaled instead of retailed to suppliers. Ethafoam is also heavier in weight then Styrofoam although that is a small difference and would not affect anything in pillow size.

The next difference is price. Styrofoam is generally priced in the $10.00 to $12.00 range at most home improvement stores for a 2" thick sheet by 4 foot by 8 foot. Retail price on the same size sheet is $85.00 to $90.00 if you can find it.

There is also a difference in how the material is worked up into a pillow. Both materials can be cut with sharp knives and thin saw blades. But while Styrofoam can be easily shaped and rounded with a rasp file (yes, it is messy so do it outside or close to a vacuum cleaner) Ethafoam does not like this process. The gases used to extrude it cause cells to cling together and the rasping creates a very rough surface. And it is hard to trim those little edges off with a knife again. Styrofoam is a bead cell formation that allow a smoother surface and can be sanded with a large grit sandpaper if desired.

I have been experimenting with creating a jig to cut the curve for round pillows but all still leave a small, noticeable ridge that is hard to remove.

So while Ethafoam is a better product for pillows, it requires more effort to work with. Both Snowgoose ( www.snowgoose.cc ) in America and SMP Lace ( www.users.zetnet.co.uk/smplace/ ) in England sell Ethafoam pillow kits ready for you to cover.
Kenn van Dieren

In spite of your explanation I'm still not clear on what ethafoam is. I'm probably being dense. I have a block pillow kit made by SMP. Is this ethafoam? If so, then that's what we know as polystyrene. None of the lacemakers I know in the UK have heard of ethafoam - only polystyrene and Styrofoam.

We can buy sheets of polystyrene for insulation at big DIY stores, but it breaks up easily and is totally unsuitable for lace pillows. Little balls that stick to everything fall off if you try to cut it with a saw, and the only way to do it is with a hot wire sold specially for the purpose. Styrofoam sheets are generally only available to companies which actually install insulation. I contacted Dow Chemicals, and this is what they told me and referred me to an insulation installers several miles away. Apart from lace pillows, the only other use I know for Styrofoam is in a softer form as meat or fish packaging trays in supermarkets, and fast food trays - it actually has Styrofoam impressed in the bottom of some of them.

Apart from straw or felt, most lacemakers in this area generally reckon that a styrofoam pillow lasts longer than a moulded polystyrene one, and Tim Parker also used to say this in his catalogue when he was selling pillows. Styrofoam pillows also cost about twice as much as polystyrene.

It's not that I need another pillow - I've got 4 straw filled (which I love but are heavy to carry about), 3 Styrofoam (which I like because they are flat, firm, feel good to work on and are light to carry) and a moulded polystyrene plus the polystyrene block one (both of which I like least of all because they just don't feel good when working).

I've looked at the technical details on SMP web site and only polystyrene and Styrofoam are mentioned. None of the UK sellers refer to ethafoam.

So I still don't really know what it is.
Jean Nathan

If someone's interested, here's one source of Ethafoam.

University Products
517 Main St. PO Box 101
Holyoke MA 01040-0101
Tel: 1-800-628-1912 (fax: 1-800-532-9281)
Email: info@universityproducts.com
Web site: http://www.universityproducts.com

They sell ethafoam planks for USD111.50 per case. A case contains either 8 12"x24"x4" planks or 13 12"x24"x2" planks. That's enough for 4 or 6 24" block pillows, depending on the thickness you wanted. They also sell thin 1/4" or 1/8" sheets of Volara, another brand--it comes in black or white, and white can be gotten with adhesive on 1 side. It is much finer foam than Ethafoam, appearing very smooth. Also Plastazote, which I've never seen, in 1/4", 1/2", and 1" sheets. Both Volara and Plastazote seem to be a lot more expensive than Ethafoam.

They also sell Ethafoam-cutting tools (hot knives), but they're quite expensive--certainly not worth it for just a couple of pillows. I don't know if they work better than what Kenn's tried.
Robin Panzar

Hi to all who tried to explain to me what ethafoam is. Kenn Van-Dieren replied personally as well as to the list. I can be very thick, but please don't get exasperated with me because I'm now even more confused.

I've looked at the technical details on SMP web site and only polystyrene and Styrofoam are mentioned. None of the UK sellers refer to ethafoam. So I still don't really know what it is.

I know I'm being really thick, and I only want to know out of curiosity.
Jean Nathan

Dear Kenn,
I was reading your message about shaping the ethylfoam when making pillows. I just asked my husband now because he has shaped quite a few for me (when ever someone offers me some ethafoam) and he says he uses his band saw to cut the circle and the belt sander to shape the roundedness. I don't know is that information helps but there it is.
Etta J. Liberi in Glenolden, Pa

Now we're getting somewhere. Robin says her SMP travel pillow is ethafoam. That pillow in the UK is described as polystyrene. I agree it has more give than Styrofoam - that being the trademark of Dow Chemicals, and is a harder, finer textured-looking product - but a lot of us Brits prefer Styrofoam and will willingly pay more for it.
Jean Nathan in Poole, Dorset

If you go to Central Scotland Lace Supplies catalogue of lace pillows:
www.csls.co.uk/asp/prodtype.asp?prodtype=84&ph=&keywords=&recor=&Sear chFor=&PT_ID= you will see "4. Mushroom shaped blue styrofoam. Will last longer than Polystyrene." There's no mention of ethafoam. (In fact I asked my husband, who is an engineer, and he says he's never heard of ethafoam being used for anything in this country, but of course it might be that it is used but he's just never heard of it.)

Their 16 inch uncovered round styrofoam one without a base costs £13.20.

SMP pillows at www.users.zetnet.co.uk/smplace/sfr_cat.htm 16 inch domed pillow without base or cover (made in what we know as polystyrene) is only £4.50, and the uncovered travel pillow kit is also cheap at £6.00

SMP say in their Technical information on moulded pillows page "Claims about the merits of variant forms of polystyrene when used in pillows seem to be on the up so lets have some facts. It will then become clear why a moulded pillow is better than one made from sheet material." which suggests they use polystyrene.

I've started something, haven't I?
Jean in Poole, Dorset

Hello again Jean,
I suspect that you are not being dense, but we are having a question of semantics here. What it is in England may not be what it is here in America. But when we read the names we still want to think in the original terms. Also, I have spent some time looking around the web for answers and all it has done is confuse me more. So you may end up more confused then ever after this posting.

So-o-o, where to begin? One, you can take a look at http://www.bobbinmaker.com/ethafoamblocks.html for a scan of some ethafoam. You will note that it is not a bead structure. It is a POLY-ETHYLENE polymer. Here in America we tend to call all POLY-STYRENE products by the name of Styrofoam even though that is a tradename owned by Dow Chemical. Similar to referring to a vacuum cleaner as a "Hoover" no matter what brand it is. To us, poly-styrene is a bead structure, no matter what the density. I looked at the Central Scotland site but they do not show the pillows, only describes them. It does state that their Luxury pillows use "a layer of very fine dust is incorporated which fills the holes when the pins are removed, thus prolonging the life of your pillow." This does not sound like what we know as Ethafoam.

SMP's site ( http://www.users.zetnet.co.uk/smplace/ssf_pil.htm ) only refers to Styrofoam as being the base for the Junior kits. At the top of the page you can click on the technical information but that again only refers to FOAMED POLY-STYRENE as a base for the Junior kits or EXTRUDED POLY-STYRENE which they do not use. This is what we in America know as Styrofoam. It does not state what the material is that they use for their pillows other then that they are moulded and not cut to shape. Having been to the shop and chatting with Russell, I had the impression that the product used is a POLY-ETHYLENE (i.e.: Ethafoam) but I can no longer say that with certainty. Sorry about that. I shall send Russell an e-mail and see if he will help solve this question for us.

While I know you are not looking to purchase a pillow, for the sake of argument I also looked at Snowgoose ( http://www.snowgoose.cc/cgi-bin/miva?Merchant2/merchant.mv+Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=S&Category_Code=P1 ) and they state that all of their pillows are made from Ethafoam.

By the way, thank you for the question. You got a bunch of involved with this one, and it should be good to get a clear answer. Obviously you are not the only one to question this, just the one who asked. Well done.
Kenn van Dieren

Here is the manufacturer, Dow Chemical Company, on ethafoam: www.dow.com/perffoam/prod/ethafoam/

For those not interested in the pages of technical specifications, the biggest difference is that Ethafoam (which is Dow's trademark), is polyETHYLENE foam. Styrofoam is Dow's brand name for polySTYRENE foam, chemically quite different. www.dow.com/styrofoam/, if you need to know more.

The item that I am most familiar with which is made of closed-cell polyethylene foam is the "Pool Noodle", a long foam toy used in the water. If you have never seen these: www.poolcenter.com/pooltoys_noodles_water_logs.htm . Another use is for water-pipe insulation. The long noodles are hollow and slit up one side, and you slide the pipe inside the noodle.
Lynn Carpenter in SW Michigan, USA ,br> **************************************

CSLS is clearly mis-using the term. They say their "styrofoam" outlasts polystyrene, but styrofoam IS polystyrene. Apparently, they mean their blue polystyrene pillows are genuine Dow Styrofoam brand polystyrene (they should have capitalized it) and is a better quality polystyrene than the brand of polystyrene that THEY are using in their "just-plain-polystyrene" pillows. I have no idea how Dow Styrofoam compares to other brands of polystyrene, but I'm sure there are grades of the stuff.

Judging by what's on the SMP site about foams, maybe I've been wrong and my pillow is actually polystyrene. It came fully-covered, so I've never looked at it. It feels and sounds like polyethylene, and I was certain that's what it was when I bought it. What they say about molded vs. cut sounds reasonable, although I'd not heard that before. Kenn, do you have anything to add on that note?
Robin Panzar

Hi Robin,
I will try to answer this question with less confusion then I seem to have done for Jean. Both Styrofoam and Ethafoam come in variety of grades (and price) based on density of the product. Most Styrofoam that we see as sheet goods is either a pink color or blue color. (Does this mean that there are also gender grades in Styrofoam?) But no matter the color, it is all a poly-styrene base.

Ethafoam also has a number of grades based on density (and again price). Normally we see it in white but some densities are blue, pink, green or black.

The main difference is that Ethafoam is a medium-density, closed-cell foam designed for flotation and vibration dampening properties where Styrofoam is designed as an insulating agent. It does should like the pillows from Central Scotland are made from what we in America know as Styrofoam. This is based on the reference they make to incorporating a fine layer of dust to close the holes made by the pins.

I would say that if you apply pressure to an area of the pillow and it reforms to its natural shape, then it would be fairly close to what we know as Ethafoam. (How is that for evading a decision? )
Kenn van Dieren

Ethafoam is available in Oz - I've bought mine (black) from Clark Rubber in Canberra (Fyshwick) in both thick and thin sheets - they will only sell it by the sheet. My ethafoam pillows are holding up well - my polystyrene ones are crumbling.

I also followed up Jaqui's posting about buying felt blocks - from four companies contacted (by mail), one did not reply, one said no, one said no but what I want is called "engineering felt" and one said yes, they sell it from their warehouse in Melbourne. It is 1.8 metres (or 72 inches) wide, and comes both 1 inch thick and 3/8th inch thick and they sell it in 6 inch strips or increments. BUT it is $112 for 6 inches of the 1 inch thickness, and $45 for 6 inches of the 3/8th thickness. Ethafoam is cheaper.
Noelene Lafferty in Cooma, Australia

We must agree that different terms are used in the UK and USA, as with many other items. What we (USA) know as styrofoam is a cheap, crumbly stuff that is almost useless as a lace pillow. It is used as packing material. I have some house insulation polystyrene that is much denser than styrofoam to make some temporary pillows. However, it is still on the hard side, and the pinholes do not close up. They will be good only for a project or two. My best pillows come from Snowgoose and are labled polyethylene. They hold up very well to multiple pinnings.

The UK dealers also have a denser material used for some pillows. It is actually too dense for my fingers (grips the pins too strongly.) However, my friends, who bought my pillows, love them. I think it is known as ultra-dense foam but I don't know just which kind it is.

Find the kind you like best, of what is available to you, and enjoy. After the lace is made, no one can tell what kind of pillow you used.
Alice in Oregon

A few words about polymer chemistry- that's what I learned.

Polystyrene (PS)is polymerized Stryrene. Polyethene (Polyetylene)(PE) is polymerized ethene. This are the chemical names. Every company producing them uses a brand name of its own, but the basic is the same. Every single polymer comes in different grades and modifications, to influence properties towards special applications. Expansion to foams is one modification. Both types of foam are made in different "weights" (raw densities would be the correct term), depending on what they shall be used for. The foam still has thermal and mechanical properties of the basic polymer it is made from. Outside the world of polymer manufacters, everything is "plastic" and names are easily mixed up.
Eva von der Bay

I know from talking with Russell (when I wanted a pillow 3ft x 2 ft) that they make most of their pillows from the material which is used for insulating walls, floors etc, as he gave me instructions to go to buy it from a local builder's merchant. He referred to it as "Styrofoam" - I've just checked with my notes.

I suspect that whatever the name given to it in the UK, it is the same material that the US members know as Ethafoam. Certainly it is not the same stuff which Americans call "Styrofoam".

We will just have to live with the language differences between the countries - as we have already discussed these are legion - but just remember to get the right name in the right country. (Language has become quite a joke in my lace class here in Chicago, especially when I tell the girls to put something in the bin, and they don't understand what I mean! Bin = trash can, for those of you who need a translation).

If you do want to buy floor insulation in the UK to make a pillow, be sure to get the higher grade of it, as I understand the ordinary stuff sold by Homebase, Do-it-All etc is not adequate. I went to a small builder's merchant, who, (while he clearly thought I was mad when he heard what I wanted it for) was very helpful and quite happy to order it specially for me, when he next placed an order with that supplier.
Sue Babbs (an English woman in America)

Polystyrene can come in different forms--clear, rigid plastic (shoe boxes), scratchy "petrified soap suds" (craft forms), and spongy, opaque foam (packing "noodles" and meat trays).

Polyethylene, too, can come in different forms. We've been talking about the foam type, which looks like not-petrified soap suds. It's also made into flexible, translucent sheets for plastic bags and drop cloths. I think it's also used in a more rigid form for some plastic squeeze bottles.

Both "polys" come in different qualities, even within one brand. They differ in how big the bubbles are and how pure (and, if not pure, just what kinds of impurities there are). This has to do with their intended use. There are probably other differences, both among brands and within brands. For example, Ethafoam brand is made foamy by bubbling in a hydrocarbon gas, but Volara and Plastazote (other brands of polyethylene) use an inert gas (I think either nitrogen or carbon dioxide).
Robin Panzar

Just one more thing about this. I discovered this morning that I use polyethylene everyday. I use foam tubing over the handles of my cutlery so that I can hold them comfortably (arthritis), and this morning I replaced one of them. The bag the tubing came in is labelled "polyethylene foam". It's quite firm and I can dent it with my fingernail, but then the dent recovers. The structure is very like the scan of Ethafoam replacment blanks. I don't think we have pillows made of anything like that - just the white stuff and the blue harder stuff.

Probably in the UK anything white made of 'little balls squashed together' - moulded packaging, ceiling tiles, imitation plasterwork decoration etc. - is generally accepted as being called polystyrene, and the harder stuff Styrofoam. Other countries may use other names. As Kenn says a vacuum cleaner is called a 'hoover' (unless it's a Dyson), so people will even refer to an Electrolux as a hoover, and ball-point pens are called biros. So these words have just become part of the British English language regardless of what they actually mean.

When I decide I need yet another pillow, which I surely will some day (if not sooner), I'll try an ethafoam one from the States - provided it comes in at under £18 and there's no import duty to pay. More than that for the pillow can add as much as 20% to the combined total for the pillow and cost of shipping.
Jean Nathan in Poole, Dorset

While I do think the ethafoam thread has been served very well, I would like to chime in my two-bits' worth (Canadian) ~

I had not heard of the self-healing material 'ethafoam' until a lacemaker from England pointed out what a good material it was for pillows (thank you Pat H.!) but I thought it was available only in the UK. When I heard from a conservator that ethafoam was used to create storage compartments for the entire collection of the Royal BC Museum during an earthquake refrofit (etc. etc.) I pounced [cat joke] and demanded where does one get this ethafoam in my fair town?

Answer: a store called Industrial Plastics (Plastics Fabricator) - best for buying planks, and, more cheaply, plank endcuts. Pool noodles, for an inexpensive, lifetime supply of rollers, are available during warm months where-ever summer toys are sold (for as long as the fad continues, one supposes).

So, while others of you are trying to make a piece of lace from each of your books, I shall try to fulfill a scheme to make a lace curtain using the entire length of a jumbo pool noodle for the pillow (picture it!).
Bev Walker in Sooke, BC (west coast of Canada)

As stated earlier, I contacted Russ at SMP and received a very nice and informative letter that I will pass on here. It should answer some of questions on the topic.

Hello Kenn,

I did see a bit of the discussion, but as usual the topic becomes very confused between those with superior technical knowledge and the user trying to defend their own predudices. It tends to be best for those with a commercial interest to keep out of the debate because their motives could be questioned.

All these lacemakers are doing the right thing and using the best materials that suit themselves and I would never attempt to convert them from their opinions. The tradition has not changed for hundreds of years - the most appropriate crafts material always has been that which is readily and cheaply available. Lacemakers in the last century were largely based in rural areas and straw was the obvious thing to use. Doreen Wright, the founder chairman of The Lace Guild always maintained they would have used plastic had it been available to them.

In the UK market we exclusively use polystyrene in one or another of its many forms. I have a sheet of ethafoam at the works which I bring out as a sample and we find that no one likes the rubbery feel when pins are inserted. Added to that it is significantly more expensive and is harder to work. Having said that, there is a strong following in the States for ethafoam which is the basis of the excellent pillows produced by Snowgoose.

I am reminded by a local teacher that one of her class was so keen to start that she got to work on the cushion from her living room settee. This has reached the stage where she prefers it to any of the alternatives.

Over here, I found that the UK market was being fed with a great deal of misinformation and hence the text attached to our pillow page on the web catalogue.

The cellular structure in polystyrene is either formed by foaming with a gas (I understand CFC's are no longer used) - Standard insulation products such as ISOfoam (yellow) or Styrofoam (blue) are produced by extruding the foam as sheets. Or it is formed by cooking polystyrene beads in a mould with steam (no suggestion of CFC's here). This form is generally known as expanded polystyrene and is usually white. Of course both forms are made from the same material namely polystyrene.

The big white sheets that you use for insulation are of expanded polystyrene which has been moulded in giant moulds and then sawn into sheets. This sawing produces the friable open cell surface. Any of these forms can be used for pillows and as a moulder, our treatise attempts to convince the reader that with moulding we can control both the cell size (with the choice of beads) and the density. (By the weight of beads per charge). We also attempt to show how too high a density leads to a short life for the pillow.

On the whole, foamed products which appear firmer are not the best - you only have to insert a pin into Styrofoam to see that the cell structure is weak and the hole fails to heal. Also we have samples of mouldings which are so hard they resist hammer and nails.

After so many years and so many pillows we tend to convince ourselves that we must be doing something right but this is tempered with the knowledge that there are other views on the subject.

Hope this answers some of your question.

Best wishes
Russell Perrin

I think that explains the situation. The only thing that Russell suggested that many of us would not agree with is the suitability of what we call 'styrofoam'.

I have now found several references for the use of polyethylene foam here, the most common in this area (a port) being inside lifejackets, but most people would know it as being used for water pipe lagging.
Jean Nathan in Poole, Dorset

When ethafoam first came out I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread but the more I used it the less I liked it and no one could give me an ethafoam pillow now. A few of you have alluded to the fact that it is rubbery, hard to get pins into and out of. I call the feeling "grabby". I have a couple of pillows made of the cheap stuff we call "builder's foam" because it is used to insulate houses. Granted it does not last as long as ethafoam but it is easy to make a pillow out of and it lasts a surprisingly long time. I have a block pillow made of it that I have used for years, off and on. The sheets as they come are too thin and I glue two thicknesses together (using a compatible glue). My husband shaped one pillow for me using very coarse grit and the sander he used to do auto body work. This is the pillow I chose to show in my video - the part where I talk about making pillows. I like a base of masonite to give a little weight and use these all the time.
Doris Southard

I , too use this "blue" Foam. By Dow it is a polystyrene and is building insulation. However, I got mine at a ship builders...they use it in customizing boats. No nearly as expensive as Ethafoam. I have had a square pillow with movable sections that I have used for years.....geez..is it possible, that it is 20 years. It comes in 3/4', 1", 2",& 4' thickness. I have used only the 3/4 and 1 inch. I did not need and gave away some 4" that worked very well. I have never even turned over my squares...to use the reverse side. My fav pillow..
Barb E.

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