I would like to know if there are folks out here having experience with paper logs to save firewood. We've got newpaper (loads of free ones around here), junkmail (partially glossy) and loads of bamboobased printerpaper from our homeoffice.
To make paper logs there are several schools of thought:
- simply roll 'm and burn 'm (newspaper)
- roll, soak, press and burn
- shred, soak in water and press with a specialised press, dry and burn
- shred, soak in water and form by hand or with homemade things, dry and burn.
The logs can be shaped round (rolled or handmade) with or without holes in the top or square (massive).
The consensus on burnin' them seems to be one in three logs (1 paper, 2 wood ratio).
I would love to hear experiences, pro's or cons and techniques on making the logs.
You can add any wood shavings or sawdust you can find, and use a little flour if you need a binder.
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From what I heard recently in Switzerland, burning newspaper in household fires leads to quite toxic smoke from the ink etc., so it has been discouraged even to start a fire with newspaper. I can't judge if this is a bit extreme, but burning bigger amounts of paper logs, made by soaking the paper first in water and drying them, seems really not ideal, thinking that to make paper of wood is already a process that is not exactly famous for environmentally friendliness... Unless someone can present evidence of the opposite, I would say, real recycling or burning in industrial ways with up to date filtration is better.
The stove pipe on my sister's wood stove became blocked. The man who came and cleaned it out advised her to stop burning newspaper. Especially anything with colored ink. It accumulates in the stove pipe and gives off toxic fumes.
Excessive smoke and creosote build up I have experienced myself with burning paper for firewood. Ink and binders in the paper I suspected would be toxic. for those two reasons, I use paper for fire starter but not as a heat source. We have recycling facilities here which I believe to be the best way to deal with paper because otherwise, those toxins will go to the air or compost. I believe the recycling just shreds it down to pulp like the original pulp from softwood. Which makes me think, I seem to remember, I once came across an how-to article about recycling paper into new paper at home. Might be something for someone interested to research.
I process all paper and cardboard coming onto our site, mostly for burning since I've concluded that using it for mulch just doesn't work in my climate or situation. I follow the old idea of Mollison's that the ideal way is to deal with something on site if you bring it onto your site, rather than exporting it somewhere else. Tight papers like magazines and catalogues just get wrapped tightly and tied with a bit of wire. Corrugated cardboard gats torn or cut up into say 1 foot square pieces and soaked in water for a few days till the layers will peel apart, then this is laid out in strips on a concrete floor, with miscellaneous paper laid on top of it, then more wet cardboard, and so on, and then a "batch" gets rolled up tightly, sometimes starting out around a stick, and then tied off with whatever and set in the sun to dry. Once dry, the ties aren't really necessary, though I try to wrap wire around them before burning just so they don't unroll quickly and last longer. So all of the paper and cardboard coming in finds a final yield as fuel and ash. These paper/cardboard logs are ideal when a moderate amount of relatively long-lasting heat is desired....they will stay going for a couple of hours at least in a well dampered-down stove. About 90% of what comes in is ordinary cardboard and office white paper, so I'm not worried about the contaminants in colored inks.... Two years in doing this, with 50 plus 3" or so diameter "logs" being used each season, among other firewood, and I don't see any increase in the soot or creosote in my stovepipe. I think this makes more sense in a mild, wood-scarce climate like mine. The average household's intake of paper and cardboard would be a fractional contribution to heating in a cold-winter climate, whereas for me it might be about 20%......
Incidentally, paper makes good biochar.....I used to use mostly paper in my biochar barrel when I had one, reserving the sticks and such for the fuel in the outer barrel. The benefit is that the paper char crumbles easily into fine stuff which is easy to mix into the soil....
Along the same lines my idea was to leave broken down cardboard boxes out in the rain and roll them up and tie them as well. Again, cardboard is one of those materials that folks can easily take to recycling, even in a lot of small towns. But, it still is widely available, usually free and burns quite well.
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