Introduction: Paper Bricks - Free Fuel From Recycled Paper

About: I am off to college in the fall to study Math. I love Spanish, old cars and 80's music.

Even those who try to go paper-free still have lots of paper around the house.  This is especially true if you are a student.  Recycling is a great way to dispose of it, but why not turn it into something that you can use and enjoy.  This makes a great project for a rainy day.  While the components are simple, this project will go much faster if you have multiple people helping.  There are different jobs that can be done at the same time.  Do not attempt this if you only have a little bit of paper.  We used several big boxes full of paper.

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Update: Due to the numerous suggestions, I am currently working on an improved version.  Stay tuned!

Step 1: What You Will Need

I organized the things that you will need into categories. 

Other Supplies
     Paper Shredder (crosscut preferred)
     Plastic Project buckets (at least 2)
     plastic tub
     water scoop
     pan (whatever shape you want your bricks to be)
     piece of plywood to dry bricks

Step 2: Prepare the Paper

This is one step of the whole production process, but it can be done almost the whole time.  First you need to shred your paper.  Newspaper is ok, but make sure that there is no plastic at all in the paper.  A crosscut shredder works the best, because the smaller pieces are easier to deal with when it is time to blend it up.  When you fill your shredder with paper, empty them into a plastic project bucket.  Stomp the shreds down in the bucket to fit as many as you can.  When the buckets are full, add enough water to cover the top of the shreds.  If you let the shreds soak for a few hours, it will be easier to blend them.  However, this is not necessary. 

Step 3: Blend the Paper

I used a partially broken magic bullet to blend my paper into pulp.  You can use whatever blender you have.  I wanted to use one that I don't use for food.  It is ok to use a blender for paper and food.   Add some paper pulp and water to the blender, and turn it on.  You will need to experiment with the ratio of water to paper to find what blends the easiest.

Step 4: Strain the Paper

Use a colander to strain off the excess water.  This will save drying time, plus you can reuse the water!

Step 5: Form the Bricks

Put paper pulp into a baking pan that you aren't too fond of.  Squeeze out the excess water to save drying time.  Slap the pan down to remove the brick.  Put the bricks on a piece of plywood, and put all of the bricks somewhere warm.  A closed off garage works well in the summer, as it acts as an oven.  The drying time of the bricks depends on the size of the bricks, but mine took about 2-3 weeks. 

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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