Make A Newspaper Log for Your Fireplace – for Free

We carry things into the house, and we carry them out again. For instance, if we don’t have room (Yard? Shed? Large deck?) to store a cord or so of wood, and we have a fireplace, we might have to buy a 3/4 cubic foot bundle at the market and carry it in. We do this after paying six dollars or so. And if we still read paper newspapers, we carry them out to the curb or recycling bin (or even worse, carry them out to the trash).

You can eliminate some of that carrying in and out (and the paying for part) by burning the newspapers in the fireplace.

Paper Log Roller

Of course, putting sheets or even sections of newspaper in the fireplace is a bad idea: they burn too fast, generate very little heat and may fly right up the chimney and set your roof on fire. A far better idea is to “decycle” the paper back into a form more like the wood it came from. Water is the magic ingredient. The new “logs” are basically made out of paper mache. You can get a little machine that makes fire bricks, but to use it, you need to shred the paper first. Another way is to soak the sheets and just wrap them around a broom handle. You might want to try this; it won’t cost a dime and you can see how they work for you, but it’s a messy job best done outside (where it can be kind of cold in the winter).

My uncle got the one in the picture at Sears a long time ago. You may have seen one at a garage sale and wondered what it was. The ones you can buy now for about $60 are a little more decorative but work on the same principle. The advantage is that the water goes in the trough at the bottom, so it stays right where it’s needed.

Drawbacks include the need for lengthy drying – it will be a few weeks before they are dry enough to burn. Maybe you can stack them on the radiator and add humidity to the air. Even then, you will probably need to start the fire with real wood and add the paper logs after it really gets going, with a bed of hot coals. Also, try not to roll them too tight, because it can be a pain to pull the handle out of the middle when you’re done. But if you’re a do it yourselfer, or have no easy way to recycle newspapers, it might be a good idea for you.

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