“ Our custom made, environmentally friendly logmaker, enables you to recycle your waste paper into fuel. Logs will burn as well as wood for up to an hour at a controlled rate in a fire grate or woodburning stove. Help conserve forests, reduce landfill and save on heating costs by using newspaper, junk mail, shredded paper, cardboard, wood chippings, and wrapping paper as fuel. „
When we first moved into our house, we had a Multi-Fuel stove installed to supplement the oil-fired central heating. It's been one of our better purchases and as men will tell you, it feels good to chop sticks and split logs.
However, to buy barn dried logs that will burn well and give out good heat is expensive. We use a mixture of coal and logs and as from earlier this year, we also occasionally use a home made log using our new paper compressor.
We bought it on impulse rather than as a part of any environmental crusade, because over a period of years travelling up and down to London, we had amassed a bit of an over-supply of free newspapers which are thrust at you from every street corner in the capital, so it made sense to use this for some useful purpose rather than chucking them out.
We hastened home with our purchase and like an excited child on Christmas morning, I set about making my first log. It was crap...... thin and falling apart..... but only because, like a lot of blokes, I failed to fully read the instructions as it seemed obvious to me how the thing works. Anyway, I didn't put enough water in my torn up newspaper on the first one, nor did I use enough paper and leave it to fully soak.
The first pathetic effort burnt away in spectacularly unimpressive style in about 15 minutes. What a disappointment!
Undaunted and keen to realise a return on my £14.99 investment, I reformulated my mix, adjusted my Method Statement and in the course of the next fortnight made a total of 10 logs. Stacked up in the greenhouse where they had been left to dry, they looked a bit pathetic - brick sized lumps of compressed paper, really.
The frustration was that we then had a dry warm spell and it was to be another fortnight before we had occasion to light the fire.
When the time came, we did have a better burning experience and used them to supplement real logs on the fire. They didn't burn as well as real logs but they did last much longer than we expected and had they not been used, we would have used more real expensive logs, so in that sense, it has proven a worthwhile product.
In September, I made a further batch of 17, after which I ran out of suitable stock. By this stage I was putting in torn up cereal boxes and egg cartons and all sorts. As at the beginning of this week, I have burnt the last one and it's all I can do to raise sufficient enthusiasm to make some more.
My advice to those using this product would be to make them in the summer outside when it's normal to be out and about. You can then stack them in the greenhouse or garage to dry fully. I use a big galvanised bath to make my mix and after a while, through trial and error, you do get it right.
You would need an awful lot of newspapers to be able to make anything other than nominal savings, so don't expect your fuel bills to drastically reduce. For that, you just need to not light the fire at all, not put the central heating on and instead invest in a good pair of long johns and a heavy warm sweater - and anyway, there is no law against wearing your coat in the house!
For me it's a cautious recommendation. Set your expectations low and you won't be disappointed.
After viewing the extortionate winter gas bill and uttering several expletives, my husband in all of his wisdom decided to rip out the uneconomical gas fire and open up the chimney so that we could have an open fire. He also decided that we were no longer going to pay for fuel when there were plenty of things around that we could burn for free, including all of our paper recycling, so I decided to save up for an Amazon voucher from my Dooyoo earnings, and I put it towards a paper logmaker - it cost me £18.99 so was it money well spent?
We were full of excitement when the log maker promptly arrived; we had read up thoroughly on it, and we had even watched a video of one in use on Youtube making it look so simple, so we couldn't wait to get started. We had previously purchased a large bucket and we had three weeks worth of recycling nicely soaking on the patio. You fill the shell with the soaked shredded paper, press on the metal lid and use the handles to push the lid down and squeeze out the excess water, pop out the brick sized log and leave to dry - sounds simple doesn't it?.....
Making the Logs
Firstly we spent about two hours shredding paper - the shredder kept overheating and getting blocked so we had to keep stopping and because we were shredding such a large amount, it made a right mess all over the floor. Shredded paper really squashes down when it is wet, so it took three bulging carrier bags of paper to fill our medium sized bucket. This first hurdle was labour intensive and very frustrating, but we soldiered on reminding ourselves to shred paper in small amounts next time!
Two days later and it was time to make the logs. The log maker consists of three parts: The body which has the handles attached to it, the metal cradle which has holes in the bottom to allow the water to escape, and which is also supposed to pull out easily so that you can get the log out, and the lid which also has holes in it which you squash down onto the paper with the lever use of the handles to squeeze all of the water out. All parts are made of heavy duty metal - supposedly.
I found it almost impossible to push down on the handles hard enough to squeeze the water thoroughly out. Firstly the handles cross over each other and are at a bit of an angle, so it is impossible to get any sort of comfortable grip on them, and also they seemed to twist significantly if any large amount of pressure is applied. My husband is much stronger than me and he managed to get a lot more water out than I could, but because it hurts your hands so much (which are already freezing cold from putting them in the water to get the paper out) you can only make three or four in one go; As you have to have the log maker on a solid surface, ie a patio and not grass, water goes all over the floor and a paper residue is left over leaving another almighty mess, and also leaving you with soggy shoes unless you stand like a giraffe at a watering hole!
Bearing in mind that you now have sore and aching hands, you now have to get the log out. Again, it takes a large amount of pressure to extract the log from the cradle part, you have to push the top of the cradle ends together which should give you enough leverage to lift it out - this is hit and miss in our experience and most of the time we find ourselves turning it upside down and shaking it vigorously. Eventually you have your log - now what do I do with it?
Drying the Logs
Drying the logs is a very slow process, and I mean weeks if no heat is introduced. Firstly you can dry them in front of the fire, which can leave you with a chicken and egg situation if you are solely using paper logs! They also are not very attractive and look messy and unsightly on the hearth. You could also make them at the beginning of summer if you are organised and leave them in a greenhouse or shed for a few months. The airing cupboard is another option, but bear in mind that a lot more water is going to come out, so you could be left with a very humid room for a long time.
Burning the Logs
The first time we made the logs we made the mistake of using all of our paper recycling including magazines and leaflets but we quickly discovered that glossy paper does not burn at all. We had a second attempt, this time using solely newspaper (each log uses two whole newspapers) and the log burnt a lot better, but it did not give out much heat and one log only lasted about half an hour.
We really tried to persevere with this and we have made about thirty logs in total, varying our paper and our drying methods and I have to say that we have now given up. It is extremely hard work, messy and time consuming and when the end result really is not that impressive, sometimes you just have to admit defeat. We are lucky that we live in the country side, and as we are still refusing to pay for fuel on principle, we find it a lot easier and a lot more fun and relaxing to go for walks and find bits of tree that have fallen down and logs that are lying around - now I find it impossible to go anywhere without scouring the ground for wood, the neighbours think that we are slightly mad, and they are probably right!
These eco friendly contraptions are exceptionally good if you have a wood burning stove/ open fire in your home and want to reduce heating costs as well as becoming more environmentally friendly with old newspapers.
To make a paper log to burn on the fire, all you simply have to do is soak old newspaper in water for around 24 hours before adding them into the log press and squeezing out the excess water.
Beware of the water that the log maker squeezes out of the paper as it gets you very wet if you are not expecting it. The logs can be as fat or as thin as you like, however the thicker you make them, the longer they burn for. I was surprised at how long well made logs burn for and found that the key ingredient for long burning hot paper logs was the length of time they were left to dry.
I usually make my paper logs from leftover papers on the train which I bring back and make a bulk load of logs every couple of weeks when I have time. I have found that drying the logs in the summer on a hot patio works well, along with in the airing cupboard or in a greenhouse/summer room.
I have experimented by putting different things in between the layers of paper and one that works very well is sawdust/ wood shavings etc in between the layers of paper. Of curse this creates more mess and expense but they burn hotter and I find making the logs a great stress reliever.
I picked up my log maker from fleabay for around £15 which I have saved in fuel costs already. Make the bricks in the summer and stockpile for the winter months. A great machine or gift idea.
Last Christmas Santa brought a surprise, a paper log maker. Admittedly I'm a trainee Eco warrior and I'd been coveting this from afar but I couldn't bring myself to part with £20. Fortunately someone who knows me far too well splurged on my behalf. Needless to say I was itching to try it out and made my first and incidentally my prettiest ever paper log using the Christmas wrapping paper.
We only use the solid fuel stoves in the winter so this had been tucked at the back of a cupboard until it was needed again. After last weeks £180 log delivery and the revelation that coal has gone up again to £17 a bag, of which we use between four and six a month dependant upon the temperature, it was time for some drastic action.
The log maker is remarkably simple in a did I really just fork out twenty quid for this kind of way. Its an outer shell of solid metal with a removable base and an equally solid lid which fits neatly inside the dark green body. Both the lid and base are perforated to allow the water to escape.
The instructions with the log maker are very straight forward. Tear up some newspaper, add some water to it, wait for it to go soggy, insert in log maker, place the lid on, cross over the handles and squeeze. Simples. Only its not.
Firstly you need an awful lot of paper. It takes a complete newspaper to make a single brick. Having wedged it into the log maker you then discover you need arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger to be able to squeeze a reasonable amount of water out of the brick . Beware of wet feet as a surprising amount of water is squeezed out. It also helps to wear a thick pair of rubber gloves as sticking your hands in a bucket of cold water very quickly sends them numb. It also stops your hands turning black from the newsprint.
Next comes the hard part. You have to extract the brick from the log maker. Clearly theres a knack to it, if you've squeezed enough water out and compressed the paper enough you can bash it around a fair bit in order to separate it from the lid and base, if not you end up with large lumps of soggy paper as it disintegrates before your eyes. After a bit of trial and error we found it easier to line the log maker with a solid sheet of dry A4 paper and place a partial sheet on top after that it's a doddle to get the bricks out. As they dry this paper falls off so it can be reused again and again.
The smaller the bits of paper the more compact the bricks. We found shredded paper worked extremely well and made very dense slow burning bricks but shredding newspaper in a paper shredder is a little impractical and requires electricity bumping up the cost to make them. The alternative is standard A4 paper of which most workplaces have tons. This takes longer to soak than newspaper although you can speed up the process by adding bleach or urine but then again who wants to plonk their hands into a bucket of pee covered paper.
Next up you need an awful lot of water as the paper absorbs it very quickly. A bucket full of soggy newspaper is extremely heavy so it'll be staying wherever you fill it. Make sure this is somewhere convenient. Having filled ours from the outdoor tap we then discovered we couldn't get the car up the drive.
What goes in must come out. The end result is a wet brick measuring 9" x 3" and between 2" and 5" thick depending how much paper you used in the first place. The challenging bit is drying it. In a greenhouse over winter they dry eventually but can take several months and have a tendency to go mouldy. Indoors because of the amount of moisture involved wherever you put them tends to get rather humid. An airing cupboard would be a sensible place but we don't have one so into the oven it is. This isn't as daft as it sounds. The heat from the oven as it cools after baking is sufficient to dry half a dozen bricks. Any more and the temperature drops too fast as a result of the steam generated.
Finally when your bricks are dry you can use them in your fire to generate heat. Beware though. The bricks dry from the inside out, if they're not completely dry they give off lots of steam when burning lowering the overall temperature of the fire and reducing the amount of heat given out. The bricks last a surprisingly long time, perhaps not the hour that the sellers of the log maker claim but certainly a good half hour.
The end result is free heat and lots and lots and lots of very fine ash which crumbles when cold and seems to get everywhere so you'll be doing far more dusting than normal.
Its labour intensive but surprisingly therapeutic. If you have somewhere warm and dry to store the logs it would be worth making them in the summer as they dry a lot faster.
As you know by now we have installed a log burner in our cottage. We both love real fires and hope that we will also be able to reduce our fuel bills.
To really 'go green' and reduce the costs even more we have purchased the Eko-Mania Heavy Duty Paper Log Maker
What are we trying to achieve?
This paper log maker makes a solid brick of paper about nine inches long, three inches wide by two to three inches deep depending on how much paper you put in the log maker.
Believe it or not this paper brick, when dried thoroughly, will burn for about two hours! I know that this sounds amazing, and I didn't believe it until I saw it for myself, but this really is true.
What is a log maker then?
This is going to be difficult to describe and it will work best if you read my description whilst taking the occasional look at the picture at the top of the review so you can understand what I am trying to describe! LOL!
The log maker is made entirely from very strong metal and consists of an open box with two handles one on either side. The box has no base or top. Into this box fits a tray with holes in the bottom. This is made up of a base and two short sides with lips on the top. The final piece is a base with two long sides, all with holes in, and two metal bars across the top which extend beyond the sides.
Hopefully it will make more sense when I explain how it works.
So how does it work then?
First you need to get lots of paper. I began by using newspaper which I ripped into pieces and then soaked for a few hours but the logs weren't very stable so I have now worked out a much better way of making the logs.
I use shredded paper which my neighbour saves for me - she doesn't have an open fire so she shreds all her important documents ready for disposal and she gives be the shreddings in a large bag!
I then soak these in an ordinary household bucket and it is amazing how a huge bag of shreddings fits into a bucket once they're wet. I then leave them to soak usually for a few days until I find time to make the logs.
Sometimes I find that the soaking paper smells a bit odd so I tend to put a few drops of essential oil in it.
So now you have a bucket of soggy paper - what next?
First of all decide where you are going to work. If the weather is nice I do it outside as it doesn't matter as much about the mess then although you need to clear up the few bits of paper that escape the log maker! If the weather isn't suitable then I make my logs in the kitchen sink!
You now take the metal box with the handles and put the metal tray with the two short sides inside it. You then take handfuls of the soggy paper, squeeze some of the water out and pack them as tightly as possible into the tray of the briquette maker.
Once this is full you then place the final metal piece on the top with the bars uppermost.
You then take the two handles (on the either side of the metal box) and cross them over the top of the log maker. They will rest on the metal bars - now you see why they are there! I told you it would begin to make more sense - at least I hope it does!
Now for the real effort - you need to press down on the handles as hard as you can. This squeezes out as much of the water as possible. Now you know why there are holes in various bits of the equipment too!
You now need to get the log out of the log maker and this can be a bit tricky. The idea is that you lift the metal piece off the top and then lift out the metal tray using the aforementioned lips on either side. We find that it is sometimes easier to give the thing a bit of a push from the base as well to help it along!
I usually find that a bucket full of shreddings makes three or four logs.
So now I have a wet paper log - now what?
It must be left to dry completely. I usually put mine on an old newspaper in the little sun room at the side of our house until they dry enough to be solid to pick up. I then transfer them to the hearth where the heat from the log burner helps to dry them completely. They will then burn in your log burner for up to two hours. This process is completely non toxic and will leave behind it a minimum of ash!
Is there anything else I should know?
As I said before we used to use newspapers to make our logs and we now use paper shreddings which make a much better standard of log but you can also use cardboard (providing it is well soaked), and we have also shredded the old Yellow Pages for ours! The instructions say you can use wood chippings too but I don't really see how this would work myself. A layer or two of sawdust would be OK though.
The bricks will burn in log burners or on open fires. We usually get the fire going first and build up a nice bed of hot kindling and then put the brick on top of that. In fact you burn the logs just as you would a log of wood.
By using the log maker you will reduce the amount of waste heading for the landfill whilst reducing your heating costs as, once you have bought the piece of kit to make the logs, they are then free!
How much does it cost and where can I get one?
We purchased ours from Amazon where they currently cost between £14.99. They are available on quite a few of the 'green' websites and also on EBay.
Are there any problems with it?
I have already mentioned the fact that the brick can sometimes be a bit tricky to get out of the log maker. The wet logs do sometimes smell a bit odd too so another few drops of essential oil would be beneficial here.
The other design fault from my point of view is the two cross over handles. When they have crossed over you are bearing down on the edges of the handles which can be quite uncomfortable. It would be better if they were designed so that you were forcing your weight down onto a flat surface as this would be easier to do and more effective at removing moisture from your log.
We have found it to be an effective way of making some more free fuel and although it takes a bit of time and effort it is well worth it for the money it will save.
The Eko-mania briquette maker is a household gadget for making fuel for your fireplace or wood-burning stove out of waste paper, and it seems like a brilliant idea. You can use any kind of paper - old newspapers, phonebooks, junk mail, old letters - anything at all, to make the combustible bricks. Basically with this, you're reversing the process of paper-making to some extent, in that you're taking sheets of paper, pulping them down in water, compressing them - using the briquette maker - then drying them out to make 'logs' that will burn over a long period - just like wood. The briquette maker itself is like a slotted metal hand-press which shapes your globs of paper pulp into neat, handy, rectangular bricks, by pressing excess water out of them. What could be simpler or - arguments about whether we should be burning anything to heat our houses aside - seem more environmentally friendly?
I heard of the concept of briquette making via the 'Amazon' website - a query into buying composting wormeries revealed briquette makers as another line of product in which 'you might be interested.' We have a - happily now, following a complete upgrading and extension of our home central heating system, mostly decorative - wood-burning stove, but I well remember the head-aches involved back in the days when we were entirely dependent on the stupid thing for heating our sitting room, of getting hold of sufficient fuel to keep it working in the evenings. (Buying logs from the garage wasn't cheap and we hadn't the space for one of those budget two-tonne stacks from the timber mill). So making our own briquettes did indeed seem like it would be a brilliant idea.
If you read the reviews for this product on 'Amazon' you'll see that many people are zealously in favour of it, and I can see that under certain circumstances briquette-making could work quite well. I have no real complaints about the Eko-mania gadget itself, which is quite robustly constructed, reasonably priced, is even attractive-looking in its own way, and which does the job for which it's intended more than adequately. They currently sell for £18.95 from the manufacturer (plus £4.95 P&P if you spend less than £20 at their website; if you spend over £20 you get free shipping) or you can get the same thing on Ebay for £19.99 including P&P. The best current deal seems to be from Amazon, where it's about £15 and you may get free P&P.
In my experience though it's all great in theory but not in practice. The paper has to be shredded before it is immersed in water to be pulped, which is time-consuming unless you have a machine for doing that already. The pulping process takes more time and is very messy; we were finding tiny fragments of newsprint all over the pavement for a long time after our paper pulping attempts finished (I think some of this comes from the exudate that squeezes out when you are making the bricks). If you're going to do this at all, for it to be worthwhile, this should be done on a fairly large scale: we used an old baby's bath for the soaking aspect. Because of this you also end up with a fair bit of paper-fibre-saturated water / sediment that shouldn't be poured down the drain by the end of the process; I don't know if it's any good for the garden, though it will make a mess of it. It's all right to go on the compost heap however. The worst thing about the briquette maker in my experience however is the amount of time it takes to dry out the 'logs' - we don't have a greenhouse, or an empty, airy garden shed to leave the wet logs in and given the typical state of the British summertime, leaving them out in the open air to dry is not a viable option, as it takes each briquette several days AT LEAST to dry out thoroughly. This is where in my opinion the utility of briquette making per se falls down; all right if you have a designated room or outhouse specifically set aside for the drying and processing of loads of wet paper bricks, but I just don't think it's a sensible thing to be attempting in the open air in this climate.
We didn't get into 'industrial scale' production of compressed-paper briquettes because we could never find a satisfactory way of drying the bricks out between batches, so of course we were never able to produce nearly enough fuel to supply our wood burner over the winter. You do get a fair number of bricks for the amount of paper put in however, and I suspect by making a full batch once or twice a week over the spring and summer / autumn, assuming you had a space to dry them out you could easily produce enough to last the winter. They do look pretty terrible once made up though; exactly like ugly grey misshapen papier mache house-bricks. You'd probably want to store 'em out of sight