Human Hair for Oil Spills
Material Research, Public Engagement 

Oil spills are a problem on canals, fuel tanks burst, boats sink, engines break.Rarely is this oil cleared up or disposed of properly. Unfortunately it usually ends up in the canal.

Human hair is an oil selective material that can be used as a plastic and chemical free alternative to current oil spill response kits. This project focused on designing an object that could be used on the canals, like a cloth to clean up oil from boat engine bays before it enters the water where it becomes much harder to deal with.

Using waste hair from local hair salons, the woven hair cloths are designed to make use of short hair fibres rather than relying on long hair which is what is currently required for hair matting.

Drawing upon the DIY maker culture that exists along canals, it was important that these objects were handmade. The design needed to be simple enough to be replicated and adapted by other boaters.


Human hair brushes