Ok, I took a little time off from the blog to catch up on life. Now I’m back.
After watching the latest episode of Doomsday Preppers, I was struck by the use “fire bricks” by one of the featured prepper families. Using old paper to make fire “logs” or “bricks” has been around for sometime and in Europe is still very popular. The crux of it is that you take old paper, such as newspaper, shredded paper, etc., soak it a day or two. Then form into a shape, press the water out and let it dry for a while.
The simplest and cheapest way is to use cheesecloth and any recyclable paper. Shred the paper, soak it a day or so in a large bucket and form it into log shapes on cheesecloth. Wrap the cheesecloth around the “log” and twist the ends to squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Set the log, still in the cloth, in a sunny place for a few days to dry, turning every day to dry evenly. Then store in a dry place away from any flame. It will take a long time to dry since you can’t get a lot of the water out by twisting the weak and brittle cheesecloth. If done properly, you will not get a lot of smoke or ash and it should burn for one to two hours.
There are many alternatives to this method but most cost a little money. For about $25 you can get the Paper Briquette Maker which is very popular with the Europeans. It is the same method described above but uses a press to get most of the water out and form small bricks. This makes them useful sooner and makes your bricks the same size so they store easier. There is also the Original Dry Paper Logmaker. This uses a roll of newspaper with junk paper and other combustibles wrapped inside. No pressing out of water required.
Don’t want to spend $25? OK, you can pretty easily make your own press. This Instructables Paper Log Maker is simple to make. Many of us have scrap PVC laying around. Really, all you need a small form to press the paper into with some holes in it to allow drainage.
Where can you burn these logs? Anywhere you normally would burn logs. The more water you remove, the cleaner they burn as far as smoke and ash. A warning, though, you are still burning them! This is not “green” energy except that you are recycling. You can even use the ash in your composter. Also, be careful of colored paper and glossy paper. They may contain chemicals that are bad for you to inhale.