How to Make Newspaper Logs for Your Fire




You can make fuel for your fire by using newspapers. This instructable shows you how to make a newspaper log in less than two minutes. The video shows you the whole process.

It's kind of like hardcore paper mache. To get a solid log, you must change the structure of the newspaper. That is from sheets to pulp. Usually there's no shortcuts in paper mache, but you'll learn how to make these logs very quickly using a rubber mallet.

The paper logs burn best when combined with wood. They will create more ash than wood. The hole through the middle will help it to burn and make the drying out process quicker.


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Step 1: Prepare the Newspapers

You will need newspapers, a strong bucket, a rubber mallet and a dowel about an inch thick. You will also need a concreted/cemented area to work on. Fold the newspapers and put 3 or 4 into the bucket and cover with water. The newspapers will probably float to the top so put a piece of wood on the papers.

If you have a leaky gutter with a bucket under the drip or collect rainwater in a tank it would be a great idea to use rain water for the logs.

The newspapers in this instructable were soaked for two days. One day is enough. If you want to speed up the softening process put a squirt of cheap detergent in the water.

wingbatwu suggested adding flour to the water which sounds like a really good way of helping everything bind together.

Step 2: It's Hittin' Time

If you ever feel the need to hit something instead of somebody, now is the time. Get a wet newspaper out of the bucket, letting some water drain off it first. Lay it out on a hard surface like cement.

Starting at the top of the newspaper, hit it with the mallet and work your way down until you've done it all. Not too hard or the newspaper will fall apart. Now carefully lift the mashed newspaper from one side and flip it over. Now hit the other side with the rubber mallet.

If you hit the first side too hard you will find it hard to flip the newspaper over. Just turn what you can and piece it back together.

Step 3: Rolling and Squeezing

Your dowel should be longer than the width of the newpaper. Place it at the end of the newspaper nearest to you. Curl the paper around it and start to roll it on. As you roll you need to squeeze at the same time. This compresses everything into a log.

When you finish, you'll need to make sure that you press the end of the newspaper into the log so that it doesn't unravel.

Step 4: Tidy Up the Ends

When the log is complete, spend a few seconds squeezing and shaping it with your hands to get it as solid as possible. When you have finished rolling and squeezing the log turn it up on its end. Slide the log down to the end of the dowel so that it is resting on the ground. Use your thumbs to press in on the ends of the log to make it neat. Repeat at other end.

Remove the dowel

Step 5: Finished/dirty Hands

There's your finished newspaper log. Now look at your hands. The photo shows what my hand looked like after making three logs. If you make about eight in one session your hands will be really black.

Put the logs in the sun to dry. It depends on the weather how long they'll take to dry. The logs I made for this instructable dried in one day. But it was a hot day (30c/86f). If you're making them in cool weather it could take two weeks if there's no sun.

Update, 10th November 2008: I have mentioned in the comments section that once the fire season starts you can get your logs dry within a few days by stacking them on top of the wood heater or in front of an open fire. There is a photo in the comments.

If the weather is lousy, but you haven't yet had any fires you can make use of a well aired spot. If you keep your firewood under cover, it would also be a good place to dry your paper logs. In cool cloudy weather I make a space for the logs to sit for as long as it takes. I put an old screen door on some boxes and use that as a drying rack. Air can get to the logs from underneath. Any area that gets the wind but is protected from the rain will do fine if you can afford to wait a couple of weeks for them to dry.

It's surprising how hard they are when they're dry. If you tap yourself on the head with one, you'll see what I mean.

You really need to make a whole lot of them before winter. Otherwise it will be too cloudy and cold. At the beginning you will probably love making them, so take advantage of this and make as many as you can. After a while your enthusiasm will wear off and it will turn into a chore especially if you're out in the cold and your hands are freezing while you play around with cold wet newspaper.

But anyway... good luck if you decide to make them. Your firewood will last a lot longer.

Step 6: Paper Log Tweaks

handyman05 suggested:
» adding coffee grounds to the logs. This could make them give off more heat. The grounds could be sprinkled on top of the paper after it's been mashed on both sides. Then roll the logs up with the coffee grounds inside.

joeny1980 suggested:
» adding pine needles to the logs to add some crackling. The pine needles could make them burn hotter too.
» improving the appearance of the logs by wrapping in soaked brown paper like from a paper bag.
» adding coffe grounds or related coffee/tea product to the soaking water to give a brown tinge to the logs to make them look nicer.

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    219 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    The nice thing about using old paper for fire is that you aren't restricted to log shapes. By using some clamps, two boards and some wax paper (to line the boards) you can make paper boards, strips, etc. My boyscout group did this but we soaked them in gasoline rather than water and let them dry in a dry, well ventilated, room that kept a temp of about 90 degrees in our scout house (it was an old kitchen that had four vent hoods we turned on).

    4 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm sorry, but that is criminally INSANE and STUPID.

    You shouldn't be allowed within 100 yards of Boy Scouts if you think that soaking paper in gasoline and then drying the gasoline soaked paper, INSIDE A BUILDING, with MULTIPLE ELECTRIC FANS RUNNING, is a good idea.

    Here's a hint: call the local fire station, describe your process, and see what they have to say.

    That is a very bad idea, but you can make very useful fire kindling sticks, from rolled pieces of folded newspaper, dipped in candle wax from old candles. Heat the wax in an old pot, near a campfire, and dip the papers in the wax with old salad tongs. When they cool, they will stay dry and sealed, and light easily with matches. Tuck a few under your fire wood and kindling, and they will help start your campfire or bbq.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I'd like to be using the paper that gets recycled from my office, but what do I do with the water which has been used to soak the paper? I dont think it would be very eco to tip it down the drain, and I dont want to dig a hole in the garden and tip it in there either.

    Settling tank? Sand filter?

    4 replies
    the minecrafthblobby123

    Reply 1 year ago

    yeah.. theres a lot of common ways to do this, never seen it like this before.. you could use regular paper, phonebook paper, news paper, even thin cardboard and probably even thick cardboard with this method

    the minecrafthblobby123

    Reply 1 year ago

    its fine to flush down the toilet its paper, paper goes to your septic tank and decomposes, its perfectly safe, if your really worried let the water evaporate then dump out the dry paper clumps inside

    Why would the water be any different than other dirty water? pare is wood pulp, wood ends up in the water all the time.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction


    I have to say I never thought about the implications of the water being 'ungreen'.

    Making the logs uses up a lot of water. The paper absorbs it after being soaked.
    Then when you mash the paper into a pulp the water runs out onto the concrete. Off to the nearest patch of grass I suppose.

    Then when it comes time to put paper for more logs in the soaking bucket, the water needs to be topped up.

    If you could mash the paper in a large tray, then you would be able to pour the excess water back into the soaking bucket. That would save water and eliminate the disposal problem. Until your last log making session of course.

    I've never made the logs out of anything but newspaper but I can't see why office paper wouldn't work. Might need more mashing though.

    the minecrafthWhee234

    Reply 1 year ago

    yeah.. theres a lot of common ways to do this, never seen it like this before.. you could use regular paper, phonebook paper, news paper, even thin cardboard and probably even thick cardboard with this method

    about 30 yrs ago I was the produce mgr in shop rite supermarkets in NY. we started selling this red machine with a handle on it that turned a bar. it had a trough that you filled with water and dish detergent . you fed the newspaper onto the rod and turned the handle adding enough newspaper until you had a log 4inches in diameter. It wasnt made well as it broke easily during the process but im amazed that the idea is still around.


    You could probably scent the logs by adding maple/corn syrup, sugar, or incense oils to the water.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    No offense, but doesn't burning paper release more toxins into the air than just burning wood?

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 5

    Most newspapers are printed on eco-friendly paper and with eco-friendly colors. You can ask the publisher if they don't tell it anywhere.
    This kind doesn't harm the environment and are non-toxic - also when burned. 
    You should avoid all other sorts of paper like magazines, and more or less glossy paper and printed cardboard etc. unless the publisher ensures you that the printed materials really are non-toxic.

    But again: To burn normal newspapers (printed with non-toxic ink) does absolutely no harm to either humans, animals or environment.

    - so go ahead and save some trees ...


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 5

    True I worked in the newspaper industry and the ink is water soluble soy based.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    my briquette machine project:


    Reply 7 years ago on Step 5

    ...haha...relatively compared to an average summer day here of about 25°c/77°f. Although when the really hot weather hits it can be 44°c/110°f.