Introduction: Turn Newspapers & Junk Mail Back Into Logs

Disclaimer: According to the Seattle Times, in the state of Washington burning rolled paper logs is illegal. There may be other locations that also have laws regarding or prohibiting burning of news paper logs. While the Seattle times states that paper logs are bad for the environment, and makes reference to their own legislature, and a vague mention of the EPA, they do not cite any sources as reference. I am not here to argue their opinion, but having said this, it is upon you, that if you should decide to participate in the process of rolling your own logs to burn for whatever your reason, you should ensure that you will not run afoul with the local laws regarding what you can and cannot burn in your fire appliance. Whether it be an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, you should always fully educate yourself in any endeavor you take up to keep yourself and those around you safe.

This is the article for your perusal:

The purpose of this instructable is to educate you on the process of creating a paper log.

On to the project if you dare!

With today's focus on saving money, more people are turning to wood, pellet and corn stoves to heat their houses. What if instead of harassing the receiving dept's of companies with their own junk mail, or recycling your newspapers, you use them for inexpensive heating in your wood stove. Mind you I have no problem with recycling, but given the option of recycling, or keeping my family warm, I choose the later, hopefully you understand.
It's mid-spring right now, and it's the perfect time to start this project as it does take some time before the logs can be used in a wood stove for the winter. We use this method for camping every year, and it saves us the trouble of finding fire wood, or money by not having to buy precut pre-dried fire wood. The benefit is that it's virtually free, provided you value your time at zero.

Step 1: What You Will Need:

Huge stack of news papers, and junk mail
Large container for water
Cotton string or twine
And some spare time

Step 2: Find the Perfect Spot to Setup Shop

Now that you have a container full of water, pick a location where you would like to do this project. You'll want to choose a spot that can get wet, is flat, and clean. Your kitchen counter is probably the best choice.

Step 3: Wet Your News Print/junk Mail

Regrettably, I didn't actually take pictures the last time I did this, so I kind of cheated by doing this at my kitchen sink, just so I could shoot some pics. In my case, I simply laid several sheets of newsprint in the sink, and soaked it with the sprayer. Here is my small stack of local news print, that I'll be using.

Step 4: Drip Dry?

Once you have fully soaked your intended victim..err paper. Hold it up by it's corner over your container of water. A few seconds is all it should really take. The idea here is to let the paper hang long enough to let the excess water drain out of it. When it stops dripping you're ready to roll it.

Step 5: Roll It

Move your now wet paper to a flat clean surface. Start rolling the end of your choice. (top, bottom, side...doesn't matter) Try to roll it as tight as you can. If it's not tight, it won't really make a difference. A loosely rolled log will burn faster than a tighter one. Since we're looking to get efficiency out of it tighter would be better.

Step 6: Build It Bigger!

Wet another paper, and repeat the process, but this time add the new piece to the existing roll. One of the best ways I found to do this is to leave an inch or two hanging off the end of the first roll. Lay the next piece on top of the exposed end of the first roll. This way when you start to roll again the new piece is tucked securely into the existing roll.

Step 7: Rinse...Repeat...forever

Ok, so not really forever. Keep building on your current log until it suits your desired size. Don't make it too big, or it will either be too big for your burning appliance, or too heavy to lift. However I can't imagine how big it would have to be to be too heavy to lift. When you're satisfied with the size of the log use your string/twine, tie your log up so that it retains it's shape with no loose flaps, then set it aside to dry.

Step 8: Drying Time

Drying times will vary based on thickness of log, denseness of paper, and how wet the paper was at the time of rolling.
I recommend standing the log on it's end to dry out, rather than laying it on its side.
Wet logs will not burn well, and tend to be smoky, so it's best to be sure to get them nice and dry before you use them. Setting them in a dry location that gets plenty of sun will help dry them faster.

Step 9: Final Thoughts

A final note, I advise you be somewhat selective about the kind of paper you use. Some paper like those found in magazines are coated. If this paper is burned it tends to put out a thick black smoke. I don't know what it is that the paper is coated in, but I suspect it's something to do with plastic. This would be bad for the environment, so please recycle this kind of paper.

The best kind of paper to use would be newspapers, and credit card bills(after you've paid them of course)

Here is a shot of the log dried out. An unfortunate side effect is sometimes the paper log will grow a little mold on it while it's drying. This can be seen on the side of the roll. If this kind of thing bothers you, then you should probably stand the roll on a suspended wire mesh, or chicken wire so that it can dry without sitting in a puddle.