Turn Newspapers Into Firewood

If you like to sit by your fireplace on a cold night but aren’t a fan of buying and storing a bunch of firewood, a pile of newspaper is all you need to stoke the flames of relaxation. You can transform loose papers into logs in a few simple steps.

Tactical Intelligence tells you how it’s done in a 2010 post. You start by soaking the newspaper in a sink or bucket, then draining the paper and laying it out leaf by leaf in a chain, with one end staggered over another. Next you take a dowel and use it to wrap up the wet newspaper until the log is as thick as you’d like. Pull out the dowel and the paper log will be ready to use once it’s dry.

The post says you’ll still need some small kindling to get the flames going, and you’ll probably need a couple regular logs to supplement your paper creations.

Homemade Firewood: How to Make Logs from Newspaper [Tactical Intelligence]

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  1. Lethe says:

    This is giving me flashbacks to reading “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Of course, I just read it (for the umpteenth time) a week ago, so that’s not too surprising.

    • Anathema777 says:

      Twisting the hay to make sticks that would burn longer…

      That’s the first thing that popped into my head too!

      • Platypi {Redacted} says:

        Ditto! Again! Also!

        I think if I was going to recreate a prairie life activity, making my own firewood would be pretty low on the list…

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      I went looking for the Little House books on Kindle, and couldn’t find them available in that format. It gave me a big sad; I’d like to read them again because I skipped all but one or two when I was in the target age group.

      • GrayMatter says:

        There is another, revolutionary, source of FREE reading materials: Your local public library. And, many of them have electronic borrowing so you don’t even have to mess your fingers with left-over printing ink, or dry out your fingers touching paper.

        (yes, /snark)

        • caradrake says:

          I’ve discovered that about 8 of the 10 or so libraries in my county have extremely odd hours. Most are only open one or two days a week, others are only open for one or two hours a day…

          It’s… sad.

          The main library is open ‘business hours’, only open past five on one day of the week.

      • Lethe says:

        These are books that I think are best in paper format. The copies I still read and reread are the ones I read 20 years ago. They’re quite discoloured by now, but still in great shape. There is no doubt that you’ll be reading them long after current Kindle files are unrecognizable by whatever entertainment devices we’ll be using in another 20 years.

  2. winstonthorne says:

    Everyone loves a log.

  3. Cat says:

    What are these “newspapers” of which you speak?

  4. microcars says:

    I’m not a fan of buying and storing a bunch of firewood, or making my own from newspapers using a time-consuming process that also means I have to stack them and let them dry out…just like firewood!

    I just turn on the gas fireplace. done.
    Or I play back the HD fireplace video on the TV.

  5. josephpr says:

    I can remember a device to help you do this being advertised in Yankee magazine when I was a kid (which was shortly after the discovery of fire). As I recall, it had a trough and a spindle with a crank. I think it is more of a way to get rid of extra newspaper (before the days of recycling’s prevalence) than practical.

  6. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    It’s Log. It’s Log.
    It’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood.
    It’s better than bad, it’s good!

  7. Shinchan - Please assume that all of my posts are sarcastic unless indicated otherwise says:

    I make my own logs at h…..oh, wait. Nevermind.

  8. suez says:

    I can’t imagine many people have that much newspaper piling up anymore. And those who do likely won’t have the time, space, or patience to bother with this.

    Slightly OT, though. While camping over Columbus Day weekend, we had a hard time finding firewood that wasn’t damp, and resorted to checking out the grocery store. There is a brand of Duraflame Fire Logs that is rated safe for cooking (most of them are NOT). They are nothing more than cardboard soaked in parafin and compressed into logs. We discovered that they are PERFECT for camping–they gave impressive levels of heat and flame with just one or two logs, something that would take many more pieces of regular wood to achieve and maintain. Price-wise, they ended up being a better bargain, too, because you only needed one to cook, and it caught flame immediately–no putzing around with kindling and smouldering leaves to get it going.

    • baconsnake says:

      Good information for my next camping trip, thanks!

      • suez says:

        Seriously, they were like magic. True story: We’re always careful about putting out the fire at night, making sure all the coals are out by dumping water on them. But the warmth is still there. The next morning I laid two of these special logs in the pit, then took the wrapper (as you’re supposed to do) and twisted it up and stuck it into the still-slightly warm ash pile. And it lit up! No matches, no kindling. Amazing!

    • Plasmafox says:

      My mother gets these asinine, unwanted “free” papers all the time. We tried to get them to stop sending them and we can’t because my mom is a sucker and keeps agreeing to “free trials” from them

  9. Renaldow says:

    And when you burn your newpaper logs, they stink to high heaven due to the printing. Unknown about the safety issues, but they smell noxious. Have fun stinkifying your homes!

    • suez says:

      This. I would be very worried about all the chemicals being released into my home. There’s more than just ink in those papers.

    • baconsnake says:

      I would worry more about the amounts of soot that will accumulate on the chimney flue. I would think that newspaper is not very clean burning, and will require a chimney cleaning more frequently.

  10. Firevine says:

    Or you could just toss the already stacked newspaper in there, without all the extra effort.

    • nugatory says:

      I was thinking along those lines, except soaking the bundle first and putting something heavy on top while drying.

  11. mysterydate98 says:

    I recall doing something like this years ago in Girl Scouts. Although I remember adding something to the water to make the logs burn better, longer, or whatever. I’m sure it was something totally unhealthy to be burning and releasing into the air we were breathing.

  12. misterfweem says:

    I’d rather “Dig my Own Grave and Save!” Because all I can find is the carbon fiber stucco lath. Or maybe I’ll just watch “Gladys the Groovy Mule” instead.

  13. Cat says:

    Tune into Consumerist next week, kids, when we’ll tell you how to turn lead into gold!

  14. cosmic.charlie says:

    I’m sure that the heavy metals that they use in the inks are great in the air! No problems to the lungs there.

  15. topgun says:

    The USDA replaced heavy metals in inks awhile back, with soy based ink which actually worked better. As long as it’s newsprint it should be safe.

    • cybrczch says:

      But.. but.. soybeans are all GMO nowadays, so if I breathe the smoke… AAAAGH!!!! I’m mutated! Roundup Ready!!! AAHHHHHGgggrjgklsdjsdf;l….

  16. Cat says:

    All those that are whining about “all the chemicals being released into my home” from the burning of newspapers in your fireplace:

    If you’re getting smoke in your home from your fireplace, you’re doing it wrong. A properly burning fireplace or wood stove shouldn’t be spewing smoke anywhere but UP the chimney, outside.

    • Audiyoda28 says:

      I see what you’ve done here.

      #commonsense

    • Renaldow says:

      It’s got nothing to do with smoke and everything to do with smell. Regardless of how correctly you’re fireplace is ventilated, you get smell from the fire. If you think everything goes straight up, it doesn’t.

  17. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Newpapers don’t burn clean and will crap up your chimbley. Use them as firestarters for your kindling and seasoned, hardwood logs.

  18. Audiyoda28 says:

    Man this is a old school hack from the 1980′s. We used to have a roller that could be mounted on the edge of a counter that would do this.

    BTW, adding about a tablespoon of dishwashing detergent to the water you soak the paper in helps preserve the paper when you burn it. Burns substantially longer than just paper in water.

  19. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    HOW IS THIS SIMPLER THAN USING A LOG, PHIL????

    HOW???

  20. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    Mmmmmmm…. airborne dioxin.

  21. Yacko says:

    For a fireplace, you don’t need to wet the “log”. You don’t need a dowel. Just roll a hunk of newspaper reasonably tight and use a long piece of wire around the log to tie, one at each end a couple of inches in, twist wire ends with pliers. Any wire or thin metal cable will do, old house copper wiring may be available free, use the ground wire.

    If you have a woodstove, you don’t need the wire. Just roll tight and place in between whatever wood you put in. The wood will help it keep its shape for long enough. Do not place paper log in stove until the surface of the stove is under a couple hundred degrees. You need some control otherwise the paper will burst into flames too easily. You need some wood. A stove full of paper will not work and after initially flaring up, paradoxically will not burn effectively.

    Only use newspaper or wood pulp paper. Magazines, ads and some books with clay fortified paper will not burn well at all. All paper creates more ash than wood will, so using paper means ashes will have to be emptied more frequently.

  22. Yacko says:

    For a fireplace, you don’t need to wet the “log”. You don’t need a dowel. Just roll a hunk of newspaper reasonably tight and use a long piece of wire around the log to tie, one at each end a couple of inches in, twist wire ends with pliers. Any wire or thin metal cable will do, old house copper wiring may be available free, use the ground wire.

    If you have a woodstove, you don’t need the wire. Just roll tight and place in between whatever wood you put in. The wood will help it keep its shape for long enough. Do not place paper log in stove until the surface of the stove is under a couple hundred degrees. You need some control otherwise the paper will burst into flames too easily. You need some wood. A stove full of paper will not work and after initially flaring up, paradoxically will not burn effectively.

    Only use newspaper or wood pulp paper. Magazines, ads and some books with clay fortified paper will not burn well at all. All paper creates more ash than wood will, so using paper means ashes will have to be emptied more frequently.

  23. Don't Bother says:

    This happens when my dog gets a hold of a newspaper and eats it : /

  24. marillion says:

    Or you know… You could always go and cut down more trees, or support your local supplier who is cutting them for you!

    Hatchet… Axe.. and Saw!

  25. samonela says:

    Old bills and 3+year old pay stubs work great too!

  26. dave731 says:

    Dad used to do this back in the 80′s. He got all the newspapers from where he worked and built a roller to wind them into a log and then soaked them. He burned them in the 55 gal barrel stove he built in our basement in which he would also burn shipping pallets he got from his work too. Ya, my Dad made Mr. Krabs look like Donald Trump.

  27. the real napster says:

    don’t own a fireplace, doubt if I’d use this for one even if I did, but to me this sounds like a good idea for camping. Many states will not let you bring in firewood from other states (concerns over transporting of unwanted creepy-crawlies that could affect the environment) So I can’t bring any with me, and I can’t bring excess home, so it’s always a balancing act finding the “right amount” of firewood. Enough so I don’t run out, not so much that I’m giving it away at the end (effecting wasting money) And even then I tend to be conservative with my fires towards the end, for fear of running out. Now no worries. I subscribe to the local paper so I have plenty of source material. I can store it in the garage pretty neatly and one weekend jsut crank out a bunch, then I have some for when i go camping. I can always bring home what i don’t use. And best of all, it’s effectively free firewood, and free is good.

  28. NotLeftist says:

    My grandfather used to make these out of his old newspapers. He also made “starters” that were much smaller and soaked in kerosene. People were a bit more daring back in the day.