Fiberglass insulation is used in homes and other buildings to block sound and heat transfer. It is almost always pink in color. This insulation is colored artificially to make it recognizable to consumers. The pink coloring dates back to the invention of modern fiberglass insulation by an employee of the Owens-Corning company in 1938. Owens-Corning colored its insulation in a distinctive way for marketing purposes at first, and pink insulation became so well-known that most fiberglass insulation is now made to be pink.
Pink insulation serves as a very cost-effective and energy-saving product for consumers. It also performs very well in comparison with other forms of insulation, such as cellulose. While pink insulation settles very slightly or not at all, depending on the type, it never loses its insulating power. Cellulose, on the other hand, settles to a much higher degree, sometimes up to 25%. This causes it to lose a large amount of its ability to insulate.
Fire safety is another parameter in which pink insulation defeats the competition. Since it is made of small fibers of glass, it does not combust. Cellulose insulation is often made up of newspaper which has been ground up or shredded. To guard against the obvious fire hazard, this material is treated with fire retardant to make it safer.
While pink insulation is very effective, there are certain precautions which must be taken when installing or otherwise coming into contact with it. The fibers are very small, meaning that particles of imsulation can easily become airborne, causing irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Some people are more sensitive than others to these effects, but they do not constitute an allergic reaction. For some time it was thought that exposure to these fibers could be carcinogenic, but studies during and leading up to the early 2000s failed to confirm any cancer risk from pink insulation. The organic fiber asbestos has consistently been more strongly linked to health risks than fiberglass.
The glass which forms the raw material for pink insulation is made of silica, a compound consisting of silicon and oxygen atoms. It has no true melting point, but gets softer the more it is heated. For the manufacture of insulation, the glass is heated until it can be extruded into fibers of very small diameter. In response to environmental concerns, makers of insulation are increasingly recycling glass and reusing old glass as a raw material.