Free Heat! Its Everywhere!





Introduction: Free Heat! Its Everywhere!

An invader from the steppes of Mother Russia. The Russian Thistle(sasoli kali) is a common garden pest. The weed is easy to pull, but a problem remains, what do you do with the massive amount of fibre material?
Simple, turn it into something you can heat your house with, firelogs.

Materials and Tools
1. Russian Thistle, about 1/2 cubic yard of freshly pulled will be enough for one log when its dried

2. Shredded paper from your shredder, any other type of cardboard or cardstock. The residual ligin in the paper helps bind the log together.

3.A 5 gallon plastic bucket and water

4. A plastic flower window box as a mold

5. An electric drill(1/2") with a stucco mixing paddle.

6. A piece of plywood that fits over the top of the window box

7. Cinder block

(Optional)A garden chipper and wheat paste .

Step 1: Do the Crunch

Take your thistle and let it dry until its crunchy. Then smash it up with whatever you have. Feet work ok, wear boots! If your have a chipper, grind up the big roots and stems.

Step 2: Some of the Stuff You'll Need.

Get it all together in one spot and the work goes quickly

Step 3: Mix the Shredded Paper and Water First

Fill the bucket with paper, then wet it all down and stir.

Step 4: Add the Dried Thistle

A little at a time if neccessary, add more water.

Step 5: Finished Mixture

It should be just easy enough to pour

Step 6: Pour and Fill the Mold

The mold should have a drain to let excess water out. Save the drained water in a separate bucket, because the oxygenating chemicals in the thistle are water soluble. After the solution evaporates, the solid residue can be rehydrated and added to the log to increase its energy content and make it cleaner burning.

Step 7: Apply Pressure

A piece of plywood fitting over the top of the mold compacts the mixture.

Step 8: Release the Block

You can do this when its still wet, let it dry in the sun until its dry enough to burn.



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    All of the sawdust and sanding dust I create in may garage and goes into my dust collector I put into any small box from the kitchen I empty and gets burned in my wood burning stove. So far none of the neighbors have complained and when asked, they say they don't have a problem. I have mixed no binders just used small boxes as a holder for the burnable stuff. If I lived where this thistle grows I would give it a try! Looks interesting

    Any plant material that has a woody stock will dry and burn well, but as others have pointed out - you need to be careful with allergies and sensitivities to certain plants. It's one thing to touch something that gives you a reaction - it's something far more nasty to inhale the smoke, air born oils or ash from plants that you or your neighbours are susceptible to.

    I won't be trying this, as I have an allergy to russian thistle. Nothing severe, but inflammation if I'm scratched by it(even small green seedlings), and sinus issues, eyes water, etc from smoke from burning it.

    Has anyone tried any other materials? I live in farm country and thought possibly using the Soybean chaff or corn stalks after harvest. I've also seen, for the outdoor pellet burners, use Cherry Pits. Possibility of putting some of them in this mixture as well?

    1 reply

    I am making something along the lines listed above... Instead of Thistle -- using the saw dust of the logs I cut this Summer and Fall. Looks like it should work - ;)

    Will this work on any Thistle? I live in Indiana, and don't think we have Russian around here.

    1 reply

    You may be surprised. Russian Thistle has another, better-known name--tumbleweed. ;-)


    is this for burning in a kamin?

    Other than the wonderful honey bees make from star thistle, this may be the best use of it.

    I live in NV too, and we get a lot of this around our house. Great useful Instructable.

    9 replies

    If this takes hold, Nevada could become the next Saudi Arabia of renewable energy!

    lol I guess but I think burning stuff like paper and wood like fibers is dirtier than burning coal. I think we will become a huge part in renewable energy because of nuclear energy and geothermal.

    That is not true at all. Burning wood is nothing like burning coal.

    It's a different kind of dirty. Very pure coal burns leaving only CO2 and CO (unless you're not supplying enough oxygen then you'll get soot), not so clean coal release SO2, which is part of your acid rain problem. Burning wood release more fly ash, soot, and VOC's, which can make creosote buildup.

    very pure coal is getting harder and harder to find and mine safely. And as far as human lives go, far more people have have died in coal mining and processing than nuclear, even if you only count from when the first reactor was brought online

    gasifiers can help with wood burning byproducts, but I'm sure how well it scales.

    seems the only thing we all do agree on here is that there is no perfect solution. It's good to see people experimenting though.

    Im not sure that was the point though. Yes wood makes dirt, my whole industry is built around keeping creosote levels down. I'm a member of the National Chimney Sweep Guild. But when it comes to taking care of the earth burning wood is not "dirty". And it is a renewable source when the forest is cared for.

    seems you've never seen how they mine the "fuels" for nuclear power, and how much diesel it takes to get the fuel, which mostly comes from Australia, to the plants. Not to mention we still haven't figured out what to do with the waste, so we use even more diesel to truck it to a storage facility waiting for someone to figure it out.

    the amount of material needed for fission/fusion is much, much less than the same amount of material needed to produce the same amount of energy from coal. Less energy to mine less materials producing more energy vs more energy to mine far more materials to produce less energy. ~adamvan2000

    And you are taking into account the energy required to refine fissionable material, maintain containment, and house the waste for thousands of years without allowing the containment facility to degrade?