Introduction: Fuel Sausages

Wood burner fuel made from waste sawdust and toilet roll tubes! By making a simple mold, this is a way to squeeze extra use out of waste materials and heat your home!

I'm particularly happy with this 'ible because it felt like the moment I turned from an insane hoarder to a resourceful maker. For years I've been saving up toilet roll tubes, and now....finally....I've found something to do with them!

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Step 1: You Will Need....

For each sausage -

  • Toilet roll tubes
  • Coarse Sawdust

To make the mold -

  • Chunk of softwood
  • Saw
  • Long screws
  • Drill w/ hole cutter
  • Clamp

Please note that you'll want to avoid using sawdust from any woods that have glue in them (mdf/ply/OSB/etc) as they probably give off some nasty fumes when burned. I happened to have collected a bag of sawdust purely from thicknessing hardwoods, and I set this aside for my sausages.

Step 2: Make a Mold

To stop the toilet roll tube from just falling apart when compressing wet sawdust in, I made a mold.

I had a lump of pine from a broken table someone had left in the street, and I cut it up into 7cm squares that would stack up to about 15cm high. These were attached together using glue and some long screws. You can probably skip the glue, but it helped hold the squares together for the beast screws.

Using a 54mm hole cutter (a little bit bigger than the diameter of the tube) I drilled a tunnel out, leaving the last square so it wasn't going all the way through. I saved a couple of the circles that were cut out...more on that later.

Last up is to drill a 10mm hole in the middle the bottom square.

Step 3: Line the Inside of the Mold

Using a knife and ruler I cut a little rectangle out of some thin plastic sheet and curled it around the inside.

Now take one of the disks from when you drilled the tunnel, and push it to the bottom of the mold. I lined the face of my disk with a little plastic, but you'll probably be alright leaving it bare.

OK...now do the plastic step again, so another bit is curled up inside resting on top of the disk. This will push out with the disk when you need to remove your sausage from the mold.

When you drop a toilet roll tube in, it should be a nice snug fit.

We're now ready for stuffing!

Step 4: Sausage Filling

To fill a sausage it's basically just squashing in as much wet sawdust as I could!

I played around a bit and landed on a ratio of 3 little cups sawdust to 1 little cup water. I'm not sure why, but the water seems to help it bind together under pressure. If anyone has any experience with getting sawdust to bond together in a burnable way please shout. I think i read somewhere that if you add a little flour it helps, but I haven't tried it.

This bit's a little messy so get a tray or something to catch water, and just stuff it in there! Get as much in as poss, then ram it down with another disk, and add more sawdust. When I couldn't push it down by hand any more I pulled a clamp into play and kept adding more, and re-squashing it until it was pretty solid.

I then left it for a few minutes to let as much water to drain out as possible.

Step 5: Remove From Mold and Dry

Remember that 10mm hole in the bottom? Get a bit of 9mm dowel (or something that fits through the hole) and whack it down to force the whole lot out.

If everything's doing its job it should slide out (if a little reluctantly) and the plastic will pull itself off the sausage.

The mold is good to use over and over again, so every now and then I just make a load until I'm bored.

A lot of the water got squeezed out in the stuffing step, but it'll still be a bit soggy. I leave my sausages sitting on a radiator for a good few days, or on a little grill on top of the wood burner (not directly on burner top though). Given enough time they'll dry pretty much anywhere that's a little warm.

Step 6: Burrrrrrn!

After getting the fire started with kindling and a log or two as normal, I just top it up with sausages to keep it going. They hold their shape remarkably well, burn for a surprising long time, and smell nice. In the city where getting hold of fuel for a wood burner can be a little pricey, I've found this is a great way to enjoy a lovely fire frequently without needing a big stash of logs, and making use of stuff I'd just throw away.

If you've got any experience or advice on this sort of thing, or give it a go yourself, please leave a comment!

Comments

author
tdelgado1 (author)2015-04-21

Mr. 1up Living,
I live in a place where we don't have a fireplace at home, the average temp is between 15 to 28 throughout the year. Still when I saw your instruct able I read it out of curiosity, I also read the comments of other people and I think some ideas are fine but most of them will just make the logs burn faster, like the bacon fat or the paraffin, that are by themselves flammable, making the logs give you more heat yes, but for much less time. Besides if you use any oily agent, the binding disappears and re shape of the log is soon gone. This factor is important because if the particles of the sawdust are just lose they'll burn faster. Another issue is the emission of toxic gases which are increased if you use any kind of oily agent.
That's why I had this idea, here in my country, I'm from Mexico, we make 'piñatas' for Christmas, which are made of a clay pot covered with colourful paper. In order to past the paper to the pot we make this kind of glue that it's completely harmless to you or the environment. It is made with wheat flour and water at a rate of 2 tbs. / 1 cup of water (about 4-5 fl. oz.) the process is simple just mix the flour with a bit of cold water and save it for later, bring the water to a boil and then add the mix of cold water and flour. Stir it while it cooks for about 8 to 10 minutes (at this point it should have a creamy consistency) let it cool and use it instead of the cup of water to bind the sawdust. It will stick solid as a rock but it will burn evenly without loosing shape nor burning too fast.

I hope you try this and let me know about it.

Regards and greetings from Mexico City!

author
TeresaM7 (author)tdelgado12016-05-09

Another problem with the binders you mention is the SMOKE! I used to make something similar to this for camping - I used paper shreds for stuffing and poured hot wax (paraffin) over them. Works great for starting a campfire, but the black smoke that came off the burning paraffin was pretty excessive. I can only imagine lard or any other fat would have the same problem. Love the wheat flour idea, though.

author
JerryS42 (author)TeresaM72016-05-10

My grandfather would dissolve news/advertisement papers in water and press them to puck shapes before letting them air dry. No need for toilet rolls or binders. And I've seen wallpaper installed with starch (flour) and water, works pretty well.

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MsPeabody (author)tdelgado12016-05-08

I love the wheat paste option! Thank you!

author
1up Living (author)tdelgado12015-04-21

Great advice & insight bro!

author
shantinath1000 (author)tdelgado12015-04-21

This is a really good idea- I wounder if something like corn starch would also work?

author
asadabdul (author)shantinath10002015-04-21

Absolutely yes! Corn starch works as well as wheat flour, but here in Mexico it's a little more pricey. Any flour or starch that could make a decent papier mache paste will do the trick.

author
MalletH (author)2016-05-13

Did I miss it or hadn't it been asked why in the world were you collecting toilet paper rolls for years in the first place? Just curious.

author
chronocide67 (author)2016-05-11

I wonder how well one of them would work with a rocket stove?

author
spark master (author)2016-05-09

Hi All I loved this concept, here is one I found years ago

http://sustainablog.org/2011/11/diy-biomass-brique...

and the link to the Instructable to build the gizmo to make them

https://www.instructables.com/id/Biomass-Briquette-...

author
TeresaM7 (author)2016-05-09

I used to make something similar for camping. I stuffed TP rolls, or cut paper towel rolls, with paper from my shredder, then poured melted wax into it. You would NOT want to use these for indoor heating, however, Lots of thick black smoke came off of these things, but they're great for starting a camp fire. I wonder if you could use your method using shredded paper? It might be worth a try.

author
flyingpuppy (author)2016-05-08

Ah, the density problem. Same thing that happened with my algae bricks. Suggestions included using pine needles to create a less dense brick. Somehow, air needs to get inside the sausage/brick.

author
spark master (author)flyingpuppy2016-05-09

I have seen on line a person who makes them as disks with 4-5 holes in them and he burns them in a rocket stove made for them I believe it was a he and is a Canadian gent. He might have added straw to his pucks they were large maybe 2-4 inches across. People in the European steppes apparently burn straw in brick ovens and fire places, so why not, add some if it is really dry.

author
slater3d (author)2016-05-09

This is a great project for scouts. I plan to show this at one of our next meetings to make simple fire starter logs. Thanks for the simple project idea!

Dan Delgado

P.S. No relation to TDelgado, but I'll bet he's a cool guy!

author
signalsoldier (author)2016-05-09

I will be making these. Much appreciation.

author
Valkyrja'sW (author)2016-05-09

Another use is to stuff a toilet roll tube full of paper or other tubes and soak in melted wax left over from burning candles etc.. These are then left to set and cut into thirds to create fire starters for the fireplace or barbecue.

author
StanKaravelikov (author)2016-05-09

Nice instructable! I use similar way to feed my fireplace with sawdust. However I use bigger packs because I fill paper bags from 1kg flour. I fill them with mixture of sawdust and used motor oil without adding any water. The bag has bottom so it won't leak any mixture and it burns very well. Try to mix with motor oil but have in mind that the mixture won't be very compact. :-)

author
JohnH425 (author)2016-05-08

Get idea. I often fill paper bags with sawdust and shavings. Once our fire is going and has a bed of embers and wood laid crossways on top, I then put a bag of sawdust on top. The bag burns and te sawdust drops down filling the gaps in the wood which stops he wood from burning so fast. The ends of the wood sticking out from the sawdust keeps the fire going as sawdust by itself tends to smolder. If you do this you need to be able to place the bag fairly quickly, otherwise you will have sawdust everywhere when the bag burns.

author
WalterQ (author)2016-05-08

I COLLECT THE LINT FROM MY CLOTHES DRYER AND STUFF IT INSIDE THESE TIOLET TISSUE TUBES AND THEY MAKE GREAT STARTERS ON MY CHARCOAL GRILL

author
DorlisG (author)2016-05-08

How did we ever exist without toilet paper rolls? They are so versitle. Love this idea.

author
llehman heiden (author)2016-05-08

Awesome idea and the empty toilet roll holders get used up instead of thrown away

author
druševljan (author)2016-05-08

Great, I have long time thinking about toilet paper rolls and sawdust and you have done it! The third ingredient I was thinking about using as a binder is Vaste Vegetable Oil leftovers that can not be used as fuel

author
Quester-59 (author)2016-05-08

Here is an Idea you might try, You'll need;

1. hydraulic [ELE. or Gas Powered] Log Splitter. or Bearing press

2. A 12" L x 2", 3", or Greater I.D. Pipe, Steel works best, but PVC Soil Pipe works

3. one outer & one inner [ID] Cap of the same gage steel or PVC.

and the rest depends on what kind of fire log you wish to make.

Note Paper only logs take far longer to dry, Paper{ Shredded office, News, Magazine, cardboard Paper.

OR a mixture of both Sawdust & Paper {BEST} - please note this mix is best used in Steel Pipe molds.

This is my simple recipe using a 4" ID Steel pipe OD = 5" Piece of high pressure S/S pipe and end caps both ID & OD.

Take a 5 gal. bucket, add sawdust to 1/3rd. full, add shredded paper { The Finer the better} and water until all is wet, mix well, adding more paper until you get a coarse, mix. Note, the paper not only burns, but acts like a glue, holding everything together when compressed & Dried.

Fill Pipe, compress & Repeat until none more can be added, Then Compress & Let stand Under Pressure over night.

Press plug/log out of pipe & allow to air dry in direct sunlight.

note, the planter's moisture sincere works well at testing logs dryness.

author
tlilcoyotl (author)2015-04-20

This is pretty ingenious, pack a couple of those with dryer lint, saw dust, and soft wood, and throw them into any camp fire. Great instructable!

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Lazy Glen (author)tlilcoyotl2015-04-21

Depending on your lifestyle, dryer lint is not as awesome as the intertubes thinks it is for fire starting. Three long haired females and five cats means my dryer lint has a large percentage of hair. Sawdust is a better alternative IMHO and smells better too, but it depends what is available.

LG

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zacker (author)Lazy Glen2015-04-21

yeah...take the dryer lint out and throw it around the trees and bushes for birds and small animals to use in their nests! I had shaved my dog one summer and shes pure white, all that season I kept finding bird nests packed with white fur... lol

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Waltervp (author)zacker2016-05-08

What a cool thing to do! My Jap.Spitz needs trimming regularly :)

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rseiter (author)zacker2015-04-21

better than making fire starters with it I can only hope the people using dryer lint are the ones that get to smell it

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rseiter (author)Lazy Glen2015-04-21

finally somebody that realizes there is hair in dryer lint, I used dryer lint 1 time and never again

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rseiter (author)tlilcoyotl2015-04-21

why not add some hair that you can pull out of your hair brush, its just as nasty as dryer lint

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jonno51 (author)rseiter2016-05-08

But hair being burnt really smells awful :)

author
EliotV (author)rseiter2015-05-02

You have made 10 comments on this instructable. Nine out of ten are about the disgusting smell of hair and dryer lint. Thank you for your concerns but perhaps consider that those using dryer lint may have less of a problem with the smell than you do.

author
jonno51 (author)2016-05-08

This is an excellent method of recycling. Here's a further possible project. Take a sheet of newspaper, the bigger the better. Place the sawdust into it, dry. Roll it up to be a long cylinder, and then cellotape (don't use much) to keep the shape. Put it inside two gutter pipes (because it's a half pipe profile) which screw or fix together and then wet the contents. Leave to dry, disassemble the two gutter pipes, cut the product into the desired lengths for your fireplace. I haven't tried this, but the thought does intrigue me. I don't know if the newspaper will detach from the interior sawdust.

author
Shylo97 (author)2015-04-21

I, like many of you, have also thought of making something to start or burn in a campfire. I shred any documents with personal info after I am done with them. However, I haven't been able to keep up with the shredding and I have two 30 gal. trash cans filled with paper to be shredded- and starting on a third. I thought about compacting the paper shreds in different sizes of PVC or ABS tubing by adding just water to the paper and letting them dry after compaction. If anyone has tried this, I would appreciate any input. Kudos for a great instruct. and also some great suggestions!

author
Wreqage (author)Shylo972016-02-12

ooooh...there was a blog I saw where water was added to the paper then just time for it to get really really soggy. Then a bansaw blade attached to a long metal rod was fit into a drill..ten whrrrrr until you've lots of pulp... then squeeze excesses water out and form it into a large paper log.. brilliant really..no shredding. i believe the power tool approach would be very satisfying. gl you could search paper log :)

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ScoutDadNC (author)2015-09-14

Try using petroleum jelly. Boy Scouts have used it for years on cotton balls to help start fires.

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cdlindsey (author)2015-08-21

If you want to add some color to your fire, stick a couple of copper wires in it for a green/blue flame. We use to do that

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AzureOzma (author)2015-08-16

First let me say I love your "tube stash"! I've run out of space and boxes to hide mine in. I make fire starters out of mine. We grow bamboo here to use for fire starters. I cut the small tips and immature ones a few inches longer than the tube, wrap them in newspaper or other safe-to-burn paper, twist the ends and stick them into the tube. I make sure the bundles going into the tubes are fairly snug but not so tight they won't burn. Put a few in with the logs and light the ends. The longer thicker parts we just put directly in with the small starter logs.

The only time I would use any type of oil or fat would be to start the fire...........never on a fire that is going well! Paper butter wrappers and paper towels used to drain excess fat off the cooked bacon are great to start fires and will really get your appetite going, as if I needed anything to help with my appetite!

author
JamesT29 (author)2015-07-30

If you have a shredder, Shred the junk mail you get to your address.

put the shredding's in a bucket and let them soak in warm water. Strain or force the water out or the 'pulp' then use the same method pack it into tiny bricklets

author
JamesW3 (author)2015-04-23

This method if used with wax, or waste cooking grease maybe, or even waste motor oil would make an excellent fire starter for camping or survivalists.

I have been making them using rolled newspaper and old candles for the wax.

All in all ti's an excellent idea.

author
WildOne1985 (author)2015-04-23

How long does one roll burn (approx)?

author
HeWolf (author)2015-04-21

Been creating the same but larger with PVC and scrap shredded paper. Your raper idea is cool thow.

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EmmettO (author)HeWolf2015-04-23

I wonder if lining the inside with scrap cardboard would result in a stable tube after pressure is applied? It would eliminate the need for having large quantities of toilet paper tubes.

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EmmettO (author)2015-04-23

Would cooking oil work? I've used it in plenty of my firestarters, but I've never tried putting sawdust and oil under pressure. The oil burns well and might make lighting easier.

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SwiperF (author)2015-04-23

Some used combination of old newspapers and dries leaves with starch as its binder. They shred the newspaper and leaves and mix it in water with starch.

They compressed it into prepared molds. The excess starchy water coming from the mold was collected and was used to mix in some more newspaper and dried leaves.

When solid enough, take it out of the mold and let it thoroughly dry before using it.

author
klinder (author)2015-04-22

Have you tried 92% Isopropyl alcohol?

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tsturtevant (author)2015-04-21

For great FireStarters I stuff the tubes with lint pulled from the clothes dryer screen. Does a great job

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rseiter (author)tsturtevant2015-04-21

dryer lint might work well but the burning hair in it is pretty nasty, I mage that mistake once, never again

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tsturtevant (author)rseiter2015-04-22

LOL. I usually don't inhale. But you are right

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rseiter (author)tsturtevant2015-04-22

with 3 ladies in the house and 4 or 5 cats and a few dogs we get plenty of hair in dryer lint, its pretty gross to burn, but if you dont have what I do in the house you can get away with it, I guess.