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Paper Bricks - free fuel from recycled paper

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Step 6: Use the bricks


Wait until the bricks are completely dry.  They will be surprisingly light.  These can be burned in any normal fire.  They don't last quite as long as a real log, and they do make some ash.  But hey, they are free and fun to make.  We like to take these camping and toss them in every once in a while.  Enjoy!

Note:  You can really improve efficiency if you have different people at each station (shredding, blending, straining, forming), but that is not required.
 
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I have made the paper logs for years, going to try the bricks. Interesting thing I found out was in a car accident and had partial paralysis in my right arm, with help in the beginning used the rolling up of newspapers for therapy and regained almost full use of my arm, amazed the docs. I do home health and have use this in several patients after sstokes etc to regain use of the arms and fingers, great arm exercise!

Paulus4411 months ago
What if you make 2 holes in the bricks. Then the drying area is bigger.
Many people, here in the Philippines, using firewood stick for cooking their food. I teached some people here to make sticks, from the paperpulp and to use those papersticks instead of woodsticks. It works very good.
AlphaRomeo3 years ago
You don't really have shred paper and make bricks. Though it's a fun part for sure

I simply make fairly tight roles of paper and then put these roles in the water for a day or two. Paper breaks and fine fibers stick together.

I then the roles into - these look like sticks. I do this after my purging of unwanted paper. Now these sticks are ready for our new year barbecue party.

As suggested by kirkb150 one can add but we add some tree gum or rosin that gives nice fragrance too.

Also try adding some dry spices, if you are using these sticks for barbecue, it gives some different flavor to the food.




I would advise against grilling with this. I don't think you want to consume the byproducts from burning the various inks, dyes and binders that can be found in commercial paper.
Not sure about reccommending cooking with these, but Organic Gardening (a popular magazine in the US that encourages chemical-free gardening) has addressed the issue of using newspapers in gardens for weed control and fertilizer and claims the soy-based inks pose no threat to those concerned about chemicals. But of course, that is not burning the paper and directly cooking food with the heat. Its a personal opinion, I'm sure. Just thought I'd share
May be you are right - however as you said it would depend on the paper. I suppose food wrapped in paper (in particular newspaper) would get traces of lead from it.
Also when the paper is wet for long enough some binders might get washed way.

But the point is well taken : For my next of the paper logs I will cut the paper - dip in the water - change the water two or three times - and then make the logs.

Xthinker3 years ago
Is there any way to speed up the drying process, like a food dehydrator or oven on low heat?
Rather than "baking" methods, I'd try to get as much water out as possible. (think like high-efficiency washing machines) I'd use a form with holes in it , a piece of plywood cut to fit inside the mold and a heavy brick to let sit on it for several minutes while making other bricks.

Of course, anything to help the drying process would be good - somethig that allows airflow under and around the bricks, warm... like putting them on a lattice board, corrugated metal sheet, etc, on saw horses in the back yard(or deck, or even roof), in a breeezy, sunny spot.
frogmama1 year ago
This sounds like a fun project. I didn't read all the comments so I don't know if it was suggested, but I wonder how a paint mixer bit would work for blending the pulp. We have one we used to use for making liquid laundry detergent (we make dry now :) ) They are made to mix paint in 5 gal pails and could probably do a nice job, especially if you soak for a few days. (I'd prefer that to shredding, personally.) Our newspaper printer place always has lots of extra newsprint.

For those who are interested in alternative wood sources for burning -imagine having to twist and twist "logs" of hay for heat. the Ingalls family had to do that in Laura Ingalls Wilder's book "The Long Winter". It was that or freeze to death. It is a true story. 30+ logs a day. Good book!
I have recently began making these for upcoming camping trips to supplement out firewood use. I was watching an episode of I Want That! on the DIY channel and they showed the Lehman's Newspaper Brick Maker. I bought one ($30 plus shipping). I have boxes and boxes of old bills and things that should have been shredded but I didn't, plus tons of junk mail and newspapers. I tried making the bricks out of shredded material and from non-shredded material. I have found that using paper that hasn't been through a shredder actually holds together better. Working outdoors on the lawn (I can't imagine trying this indoors. WAY too messy!) I take a bunch of junk mail and soak it for a couple of minutes in one of those black retangular cement troughs until it is thoroughly saturated. I tear up the soaked paper, then taking it by the handfuls, I kind of rub it together in my hands until it feels a little like cooked oatmeal. Then I start filling the newspaper brick form. It has holes and a top piece to press down into the form to squeeze out some of the excess water. I've been setting them on my mesh bottom garden cart to dry in the sun. After doing this a couple of times I've learned that I need to lay an old piece of screen down on the lawn first, as this process creates a lot of paper lint that covers the lawn. It's biodegradeable, but messy looking. I'm hoping these paper bricks burn well so that I don't have to buy so much firewood for our camping trips. And to DIY-GUY, are you trying to burn your house down? I hope no one actually tries any of the drying methods you suggest. The whole point of making paper bricks is to burn them, because they burn easily. Just lay them out in the sun to dry.
nhoja3 years ago
There are a lot of ideas about how to remove the water from the paper. How about placing them on a used terry cloth towel? The towel will wick away the largest amount of moisture. what's left will soon evaporate in a sunny location with plenty of ventilation. like on the sidewalk, or roof, or even on the window sill inside the house!!!
cliqboom3 years ago
This is a great way to make a dry source of fire started for your wilderness/survival kit. Just stick a couple in a baggie with some water proof matches.

I haven't tried it yet but it would probably be a great addition to my caving kit with the bacon grease tip above. Great torch material if your batteries run out.
nhoja cliqboom3 years ago
I use a "magnesium stick" instead of matches. It can be found at any outdoors stores in the same area as matches but it doesn't care if it gets wet. Matches absorb water through the wooden stick and become defunct over time; magnesium doesn't!! It even has a sparking striker on one side to start the magnesium. Good item for survival kits.
bajablue3 years ago
Impressive!!!!!!!!!
jfree13 years ago
I like were this is going and the instructions are simple enough to have groups of younger kids helping out (Over some different youth groups with ages from 8-12) I can see this being very helpful in the fire starter and with different additives for the grilling/smoking......Thank you for taking the time to post!
viper643 years ago
love it
mogg3 years ago
if you're using the bricks for heating, not food, how about mixing in a little used cooking oil when you make the bricks? it will make the bricks easier to light, and is still carbon neutral. i use something similar to this to start my wood heater, rolled newspaper with a shot of old oil. Means i can skip firelighters and messing about building up from kindling.
I know someone will likely say the oil will burn dirty/smokey, but that will only happen if you havent built the fire right, and once it's hot enough it isn't a problem.
KiwiBuggy3 years ago
Been thinking about doing this myself for some time now (just been too lazy to get going with it till now.)

I had planned to use some seedling pots with the drainage holes at the bottom - was planning to get a few of those going with bricks resting on top to help drain the water.
Lareau3 years ago
We used to do this as well when I was a kid (to add to our wood stove or fireplace) We used the 'traditional" news paper roller but added left over bacon grease and cooking oil. Burned well and smelled great!

thegreat583 years ago
With the world going green, I think instructables like this are awesome, bet they'd be great for starting a charcoal barbecue. You'd only need one or half a one. Good Job.
pfiddle3 years ago
I chuck newspapers and light cardboard into a small (electric) cement-mixer I have and use rain water to soak the paper - tap-water contains too many chemicals and the paper won't mulch well.

I use a press - "briquette-maker - been around in Ireland for longer than I can remember (I'm old). Trick is to let the air dry the briquettes. Failing that put them in the glass-house and they'll keep the air moist as they dry.
For more - using sawdust as well as paper ;
http://pfiddle.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/paper-and-sawdust-briquette-maker/
azgiles3 years ago
If you leave the paper to soak in water for a couple of days you can get away without the shredding.

Compressing the logs using a mould with holes in gives you a log that burns for about an hour.
wheeets3 years ago
Can you soak the newspapers in white gas instead of water to make them more flammable or will they catch fire too easily? Good Instuctable. Thanks for the help?
azgiles wheeets3 years ago
The white gas would evaporate away so it wouldn't make them any more flammable.

There's also the risk of the white gas igniting when you're working with it so I wouldn't recommend it as it could be dangerous.
majeral3 years ago
100 years ago my hubby and I found a paper rolling tool, it was made from iron and you rolled up newspapers in it nice and tight. Then ad just abit of water ,then when you get a nice fat roll you soak it in water over night. Take it out and place in sun we made dozens of them as my son had a paper route so we always had newspapers. If the paper is tight, and allowed to dry all the way through you will get a nice burn.

If I was using your method I wold not put in lbender just soak really good then make your form.Let dry
loki.683 years ago
I use a hydraulic press in my workshop to push out the water, made up a home made jig to do it. They burn at least 5 times slower :)
captsomer3 years ago
Great idea! I like the comments about compressing the pulp into a tighter brick. You could take this to a whole new level and modify a hydraulic log splitter to compress the blocks. It would squeeze out excess water and produce a much denser brick. It would be interesting to see what would happen to burn time and residual ash.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Love this 'ible!

A few thoughts - since shape isn't necessarily a limiting factor, one can use most anything for the outer container: how about a plastic strainer, a meatloaf pan (the inner one with the holes), etc.

Also, these make perfect sense to me, but why, when I roll up newspaper and bind with wire or a bread tie, do my rolled "logs" burn out as the outer pages peel back while burning? Oftentimes, I come back to the fireplace a few minutes later and find that the roll has burned out, yet not clear through to the center. Even when I relight it, it still burns out. I gave up on the rolling idea, and went to wadding up the pages instead.

goosezilla3 years ago
For compressed bricks try finding two pans of the same size. This way you can press down with one pan to help squeeze out water. Drilling some small holes into the mold pan will also help press out water. I think the only thing to keep in mind is that the larger and denser your bricks the longer they may take to dry.
been doing something similar for a while, we just do this to news papers and we add in our dryer lint. we make ours to about 6x3x4 blocks and use them as fire starters when it gets cold. great instruct-able by the way.
you could probably squeeze out 50% of the water then add more to the baking pan and continue squeezing out water, adding more, etc. until you have a larger brick.
mrmerino3 years ago
i bet you could compress the hell out of them and make them at least 5 times denser
icebird3 years ago
I believe I will be using this method with a muffin tin to make starter bricks to light the charcoal and wood in my smoker.
onemoroni13 years ago
This is a great and simple idea. I have thought about using shredded paper to make logs and thought it would be great if you could compress the wet material making it denser and burn longer.
could you save on drying time by making them with less overall thickness?
like shallow pan versus a loaf pan
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