I'm pretty sure I've never seen this stuff before. It's installed in rafters as batts, held in place by cardboard sheets below. Papery consistency, now crumbling. The house is ~1923, but no idea when this was installed.

Anyone know what it might be? Thanks for any help here.

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Cellulose?  Where is this house, humid area?

Never saw this, but looks a little like air-cell pipe insulation. This is considered Presumed Asbestos Containing Material.  You should have it tested by an accredited Asbestos Inspector before doing anything to disturb it. 

looks like old rock wool batts

It looks like some insulation I encountered on some ducting installed in the 1960s. I had it tested for asbestos and the results came back as just being all cellulose.

It appears to be mineral wool, but it could also be an old Balsam Wool (wood-fiber) batt. Neither would contain asbestos.

All I can say is that if it isn't known and has the appearance of something that could contain asbestos (i.e., not clearly fiberglass or mineral wool, etc), OSHA requires that it be PRESUMED to contain asbestos and treated as such until negated by testing.  So if unsure, testing is required if its going to be disturbed.

Expanding on the "humid area" question - do you think the material has gone through numerous wet/dry cycles?  Looks like it's turned to dried oatmeal in the pictures

Many thanks to all for suggestions here.

Over at InspectionNews someone else offered the name "Balsam Wool" — and with a little further digging online, that led me to what I now think is the actual answer, an old Kimberly-Clark product called "Kimsul".

Pennsylvania inspector Bill Kibbel, here, describes Kimsul as "layered creped paper," which fits my first impression of the stuff. The photo doesn't convey this very well. And as Ted Kidd says, it's pretty deteriorated at this point.

Kibbel seems certain that Kimsul was manufactured asbestos-free. NY inspector Debra Monte, on the other hand, here seems equally sure of the contrary. So at this point I'm expecting to have to get it tested. — I canned the BD test on my visit date, incidentally, because of this stuff.

I just joined this group, but knew the product immediately from the picture.  Kimsul was installed in all over the City of Richland in the early 1940's.  Richland was a government town built to house workers who were working on the Manhattan project. Were generaly give it an R1 per inch for attics, but in walls it crumbles over time.  I'm very interested in the asbestos testing.  We were told that it didn't have asbestos, I would love to know if you confirmed that.

looks like old rock wool batts

We had a sample of the insulation lab-tested, and the result was a negative without qualification — no asbestos found. This is only one case, of course. For all I know, some of the product was made with asbestos and some wasn't. But it would seem that it's wrong to say definitively that Kimsul has asbestos in it.

Still wise to wear a dust mask in any attic and around insulation generally, of course.

At least you know now.  So many materials contain asbestos its probably more difficult to say it doesn't than it does.  Good luck.

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