Cheap Fuel for Fires: the Paper Log/briquette Maker

Using a paper log/briquette maker to recycle old paper as fuel for fires and stoves. A personal account with tips for use.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a constant, free source of fuel for your fire or wood burning stove? I thought so. And the paper briquette maker promised me just that; here’s my experience, and some tips on getting the best from it.

What is the paper briquette maker?

It’s a metal box with two long, interlocking handles. They are readily available online and in hardware stores, advertised as briquette makers or paper log makers. The blurb says that you simply soak paper overnight, stuff into the contraption the next day, squeeze down a bit, and hey presto! You have a solid fuel log that you can burn on your fire.

What are the good points?

Well, in theory it sounds great. It will dispose of newspapers, envelopes and letters (handy for eliminating paperwork with your personal details on), even telephone directories. It’s quite small, and cheap to buy, and has no running costs.

What’s the reality?

I soaked a heap of paper in a bucket overnight. The next day, I rolled the paper into balls and packed them into the briquette maker. I crossed the handles over and pushed down. When the water had been squeezed out, I lifted out… a soggy mass of paper which fell apart. I went online and did some research, and found folks advising me to tear the paper into strips first. I did just that. I tore up an entire telephone directory into two-inch strips (I have way too much free time!) and left it to soak for three days. And when I came to make the briquette, pretty much the same thing happened. A loose brick. When it’s dry it will simply be crumpled paper. I could have crumpled the paper up without all the associated tearing and soaking hassle.

So is it useless?

No, but it doesn’t live up to the hype. Shredded paper is all right. But you need a lot of the stuff, and the bricks can take weeks to dry. They burn relatively quickly. You will expend a lot of effort for a small gain. I use mine, and will continue to use it to make small bricks from shredded personal documents, but I don’t imagine I’ll while away the evenings tearing up newspapers. If you see a cheap one, I’d say buy it, but don’t expect it to magically provide free fuel.

Tips

Wear rubber gloves when you are packing the briquette maker with the soaked strips – ink will stain your hands for days. Balancing a plank across the handles can help you exert a more even downward pressure – don’t try and stand on the handles without a plank. And try sourcing off-cuts of wood form local saw mills, joiners, carpenters and woodworkers – a much more reliable way of getting free, or cheap, fuel!

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  1. Where did you get yours and how much was it ? Is the water okay for plants, or would you advise not risking it ? Thanks for sharing, anyway :-)

  2. I got mine from a large UK hardware chain called B&Q, and it was about £20. I have seen them online for cheaper, though – try Ebay. I would not use the water for plants as it was very grubby. You never know whether the ink is harmful or not! However, I tend to re-use the water to soak more paper, rather than tipping it away and starting fresh.

  3. Hi

    I Have been using a briquette maker which I got from an Irish Ebay store and have been rather more succesfull with it. Yes they do take a long time to dry out and don’t burn for as long as is claimed but I do a couple of buckets full of paper each week through summer and store them for winter. Occasionally one breaks up but I put it down to adding a couple of spoonsfull of bleach into the water which I also reuse constantly. You could also ensure that the thing is well packed before taking them out I squash the paper down and then top it up before pressing again. Also having a woodshop I wrap sawdust and wooshavings in newspaper and tie it up with string to make logs.

  4. I have been using a Logmaker, sent to me from the UK, where it was invented and is currently being marketed. It requires no soaking of paper in water (unless you want to), and I was able to start making logs from my newspapers and other filler within minutes of opening the box and reading the instructions. I happen to know the inventor and he is looking for a distributor for the USA. Check out his website and get in touch with him at the “contact details” e-mail address. His name is Arthur and he has really created something wonderful! Go To http://www.logmaker.org.uk/

  5. ive tried paper logs
    mine dont burn they just smoulder
    and dont give off much heat
    ive tried packing them tight ,loose,
    shreadded paper and 2 inch strips
    can anyone offer any advice
    as im ready to give up thanks

  6. PJ – thanks for that info.
    Steve – is it a log maker or a briquette maker? I only have experience of the briquette maker (for logs, see PJ’s helpful comment). Either way, they are not going to give out a vast amount of heat. I am disappointed to concede that they are not going to replace other solid fuel, but they are a relatively good way of getting rid of shredded personal info and junk mail. I am having my chimney swept soon – once my stove is working again I’ll post up any further hints I have.

  7. Please help me to find an BRIQUETTER LOG MAKER by extrusion to make logs for my fireplace from used paper and similars and wood waste69zdk

  8. Vicente – please be careful putting you email address up publicly as it will be farmed by bots and you’ll get lots of spam. And for that reason I won’t email you directly. Anyway, to get a log maker – in the UK you can go to BandQ. I don’t know about USA but don’t Sears, Roebuck do that sort of thing? Also Ebay is very good.

  9. ive just bought one, its ok,the best way is to have your coal fire going, then add the briquettes on top, i even put damp ones on they soon dry and then burn, mine burn up to 5hrs each

  10. Just thinking of buying one – has anybody tried using a garden shredder to shred the paper; or what haveye found to be the best method. How long does it take to dry out? Anymore hints would be helpful guys. Thanks

  11. I have found that shredded magazines and note paper does not bind together as well as torn up newspapers which disolves into a pulp and dries as a solid block of paper. If you are using magazines better to mix it with newspaper.

    Also ensure that the bricks are thoroughly dry or they will smoulder and this can be damaging if you have an aluminium chimney liner which will begin to rot as the steam from burning wet material oxidises up the chimney.

    If you are really determined to make this a viable alternative or indeed supplement to your fuel needs you would be better off getting a cheap cement mixer in which you could throw any combustible garden waste and sawdust wood shavings etc. Just a thought>

  12. For perfect made bricks do the following.

    Soak the paper overnight, then the next day use as electric drill paint stirer, this breaks up the paper and turns it into a sludge. You can then use a sieve to scoop the sludge out of the water and place in the brick maker. This makes for very firm and dence bricks that do not break apart and last for a long time. Hope this helps

  13. i just bought one made about 50 logs so far and our 14month old loves playing in the shredded paper and my god you need a lot of it 1 sunday paper will make two logs if your lucky

  14. reading some of the comments,i love my briquette maker,no need whatsoever to shred or tear up use a large kitchen bin fill with newspapers tabloids as they fit perfectly stack on top of each other fill with water as they soak up the water keep it topped up untill it can soak no more the papers tear across to the shape of the unit use a square table leg and a lump hammer,you get a far better compression as its hard work and not as effective useing the handles they do take months to dry but keep makeing and you will always have a stock.
    hape

  15. The problem I found using a a plank or some other instrument to further depress the cage is that eventually it will force the ting through the bottom by spreading the sides ot the basket.

    Or perhaps I am to strong for light work?

  16. Half your problem is that you were making BALLS of paper & then puuting balls of paper in to be pressed. Don’t do that. No balls of paper stacked intogether. Just glop it in as evenly as you can all the way across. Yes, a 3 day soak or longer is good. Yes, they do take time to dry. So sart in the spring & summer so you have several cords worth for winter. After all, Rome was not built in a day either. Use Goggle & you can numerous places to buy these. I like the one out of South Afrika best, as the handle on the more widely sold on kills your hands. The SA one has a round handle. Also, there are tubes with a plunger sold for making logs. Again, Google is your friend.

  17. i have a parkray i burn allsorts coal wood etc, i bought one of these had mostly the same problem as most of you did but the biggest problem is the amount of ash it produces. it realy is a newsence and so fine when you take the ashpan out the garde to empty it a small wind will do it for you and over you ha ha . dont think i will be using it anymore. which is a shame.

  18. Hi Folks
    Has anyone tried to dry the logs out in an Aga/Rayburn/Everhot ? – If so which oven would you use and how long do they take to dry out then ?

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