Saturday, March 16, 2013

Compressed Paper Logs an Alternative Fuel

     Another memory of my grandmother popped into conversation today.  Gram had a fireplace.  She lived in St. Petersburg, Florida in a home with an oil burning furnace and a fireplace.  It was a two bedroom bungalow with a jalousie glass enclosed Florida room, one bathroom and a covered back porch that was no more than five by seven feet.  But, she had a fireplace!
     Once a year it got cold enough on the one day a week she took off from work, so she had time to build a fire and tend it.  There was a furnace that could be turned off that heated the house like an oven.  We had to keep a pot with water on top of it to keep our lungs from dehydrating, it was so hot!  
Some time in the seventies, Gram realized she had an electric blanket and a small space heater was all she really needed in the bathroom.  She was so busy, why heat a house when you're not home?  Why heat rooms you are not in?  She would use the fireplace more often.  There was a tree that needed removing after a storm and it provided two winters of warmth.  After that, Gram used compressed paper logs.
     She was always home on Thursday which was the day the newspapers printed their sales and coupons.  The Thursday paper was considered the ladies day paper and was almost the size of the Sunday paper.  Armed with two papers a week and 52 weeks in the year, she would sit in the evenings (quarterly) watching some favorite program and roll logs for the winter fire.  
Newspapers rolled into logs for burning.She brought the stack next to her chair in front of her with a trash can on the left.  She would pick up each paper and sort through it.  As she separated one folded section from another, she would tear the double folded newsprint right down the seam and make a pile to her right.  She tossed all the glossy sale flyers and inserts into the trash can.  Depending on the program or the size of the pile, she would take a break, move the trash back to the kitchen and bring back a bowl of warm water and a roll of twine. 
     She then worked from the sorted pile picking up a piece of paper.  She placed her hand in the bowl and lifted it so the water ran off.  She ran her hand over the newsprint and began rolling the paper into a tight cylinder.  About halfway down the paper she added another piece placing it on top and rolling it to the bottom of the first.  She added a next piece and washed it with a wet and and continued on rolling and wetting and rolling until she had a roll the size of a log.  When she was satisfied with the log she tied a length of twine around it's center and stacked the logs to dry.  They bonded together as they dried and burned nicely in the winter.  This is how she did it, by hand, until a friend of hers gave her a novelty gift called a paper log roller.  They are now available at Walmart.
Also, as I looked around the web, I have found another option.  This is the paper brick maker.  You just shred your paper into a bucket, add water and let it set for hours.  Pour it in to the brick mold and press.  Let it dry and , viola!  Burning brick!
If you do wood work, you end up with a lot of waste and saw dust.  If you add small wood chips and the saw dust to the bucket with the paper, you can make a bio brick that will burn longer than paper alone.
Compressed paper does not burn as long as wood, but the pro is the easy to light feature.  

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