Egg Cartons Get Egg on Their Face in Acoustics Test

So, if you’ve spend much time at all in the Acoustics Industry, sooner or later you are going to hear this:  “Well we could just put some egg cartons on the walls to treat the room.”  Not exactly.  Well, you could, but your studio or home theater will look like a recycling center and not actually be acoustically treated very well.

Here is the deal:  When absorbing sound, the idea is to have a material that has millions of small “things” in it that will literally move around in three dimensional space when a sound wave hits them, thereby changing that wave energy into kinetic energy in the material, which then degrades into heat energy.  Or in other words: thick, soft, squishy stuff.  True blue acoustical foam is an open cell foam that has millions of small bubbles in it that flex and move with the pressure of the sound wave hitting it.  You can’t see this because it’s on a microscopic scale, but that is indeed what is happening.  Compare that to egg cartons, you have some recycled cardboard, or Styrofoam in the old days, that is relatively very thin compared to acoustical foam.  Now, there is such a thing as “Diaphragmatic Absorption”, and that is where you use a thin material that the sound passes through once, hits a wall, and then doesn’t have enough energy to pass back through the diaphragm.  My assumption is that this myth got its start because yes, you do have a diaphragm there and an air cavity behind it in the empty egg carton…but there’s just not enough mass there for it to be effective enough to be considered an acoustic material.

This isn’t to say that there are no absorbing qualities to Egg Cartons at all.  At a certain point everything in the world is going to absorb some sound, even linoleum or concrete (not very much, but not 0.0%, either).  Compared with other foams that are sold under the header of “Acoustical Foam” though, egg cartons start to look pretty weak.

 

 

Acoustical Solutions, Inc. does not approach the science of acoustics as a guessing game.  All of our Acoustical Foams have been rigorously tested by nationally accredited and independent testing laboratories, of which we will be happy to provide testing data for, upon request.  In addition, just because of the prevalence of this myth, we actually paid a lab to test Egg Cartons. Click here to see the results

So, with Easter coming up, we thought we’d say that while we are very environmentally conscious, and highly encourage recycling; we strongly recommend that when you are done dyeing eggs,  you don’t put the cartons on your walls.

Give me a call if you have any questions about certain applications and I will be more than happy to help you out, thanks!

 

 

 

Matt Boughan

Architectural Sales Rep

Acoustical Solutions, Inc.

1-800-782-5742 ext. 11

mdb@acousticalsolutions.com

7 Comments on “Egg Cartons Get Egg on Their Face in Acoustics Test”

  • vince camuto shoes April 30th, 2012 3:04 pm

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  • James September 26th, 2012 8:46 pm

    OMG are you serious. Egg carton refers to foam panels in a shape they could hold eggs. the nickname is egg carton.

    You have a lot of fancy charts and had a well thought out argument.
    But who are you arguing with? No moron in the world thought cardboard egg cartons.

    Well no one but you.

  • admin September 27th, 2012 2:45 pm

    Yes James, we are serious. In the more than 23 years we have been in the acoustics industry, we have been asked many times about “soundproofing” with literal cardboard egg cartons. These people were not morons, just new to soundproofing and acoustics. The myth that egg cartons soundproof or even provide nominal sound absorption is a myth that has been perpetuated over time.

    For example, look at the first link that comes up on Google when you search for “soundproof with egg carton”:
    http://www.ehow.com/how_4619822_use-egg-cartons-soundproof.html

    It reads, “Step 1: Collect many, many egg cartons. Cardboard seems to be the most popular, although foam also works”.

    Things like this all over the internet, along with acoustics newbies not understanding product nicknames, lead people to believe actual egg cartons can soundproof.

    (We do sell the egg carton foam you were referring to if you’re interested: http://www.acousticalsolutions.com/alphawedge-fire-rated-foam)

  • Ron July 26th, 2013 10:05 am

    When I first glanced at this article, I thought you were referencing egg crate foam, not cartons. What’s the absorption coefficient of say a egg crate foam mattress? say a 2″ or 4″? I know they aren’t as dense as your product, but what would be the comparison?

  • admin July 26th, 2013 4:39 pm

    Hi Ron,

    We would need to acoustically test the mattress foam in a lab to know the absorption coefficient. I’m sure it’s better than a literal egg carton, but it’s definitely not as dense as melamine foam so not as effective. You can always put it up and see if you hear a difference.

  • Capn October 16th, 2013 12:36 am

    Okay, but I’m in the tropics and industrial products aren’t easy to come by. I have a cinder block generator shed and want to remediate the sound. Wouldn’t egg crate flats do some good?

  • admin October 17th, 2013 10:51 am

    Hi Capn,

    As you can see from the chart, egg crates do have an absorptive quality, but are just not nearly as effective as actual acoustical foam. If you truly don’t have access to soundproofing material, you can try egg crates to see if they help. Good luck!

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