When I first moved onto my land I had a huge amount of paper and cardboard left over from the various tools and equipment and plants I had bought to start my new life with.
It seemed resourceful to use this in some way so I bought a paper briquette log maker. The same as the one in the picture. Basically a metal press for squeezing wet paper into a ‘brick’. Once dry the briquette could go in the stove to provide free fuel.
The idea is you put all your paper and cardboard in a barrel or big tub, add water and mash it all up into a pulp. Scoop it into the the briquette maker and press down. So I made dozens of logs. It’s quite hard to squeeze enough water out with the model of maker I had. I ended up jumping on top of it to try and get more pressure on it. A fair bit of work but quite satisfying.
Once I had my logs I left them in the hottest part of the greenhouse over summer to dry out. Off I went pulling weeds and digging trenches for a few months smug that I had a nice ‘free stash of stove fuel.
So come autumn. I threw one of the now fry paper and card logs into the fire box of the stove. Well it did burn. Sort off. Not as good as real wood and it created a lot of ash. So much ash that it kind of suppressed the rest of the fire. After a few more tries I realised it wasn’t quite the result I had hoped for. I wouldn’t wantbtobrely on paper logs to heat a home I a really cold winter. The heat output is very low, not much better than scrunching the paper up and throwing it directly into the fire really.
The problem is the low density of the paper and card ‘brick’. There are more impressive heavy duty briquette makers on the market which can exert more pressure when squeezing the water out of the brick. They either use a hydraulic press or a really long (and sturdy) lever arm.
I was really tempted to get one of these more powerful log makers but then I put it to my ‘Is it worth it test?’
Is it worth the effort, especially when I have so many other things to do on the farm that take my up my time and energy. Also is it worth it financially as these devices run I to the hundreds of pounds.
I figured the main source of paper and card I get now is junk mail and the packaging from items I have delivered. Quality paper and card I can put in the recycling bins when I go into town to dump the household recycling.* The scrappy bits of paper and card left over doesn’t amount to a great deal now. So probably not worth it financially. It would to my mind anyway take years to recoup the money of a superior press for the little bit of energy it provides.
But what really put me off the idea of making these paper logs was the fact that burning them gives no more calirific heat output than just putting the paper in the stove impressed. In fact the loose paper acts as a great firelighter. Something to get the stove going as in it’s loose form it burns quicker and hotter. I didn’t think ut was worth the time changing it into logs. So nowadays I just leave my waste paper in a bucket along with some dry sticks as my fire starting setup. I don’t make paper logs anymore. I sold my little press at a car boot sale. Maybe the next person will have more use for it.
* Possibly I’m a cynic but I do suspect that when the value of used paper and card is low it gets burnt anyway at recycling centres.