“ Get your fire started easy with a self made fuel log. „
Although this looks like a weapon that Lara Croft may carry on her many adventures, this contraption is in fact a log maker....
This nifty gadget came to my attention when I was searching online for the briquette maker. My mother had one when I was young and I remember the ritual of soggy newspaper and drying stacks of newsprint fuel "bricks" drying by the fire. I was quite young and cannot remember all of the details but these seemed to work well alongside the wood and coal that we used in the open fires. Amazingly the briquette maker is still available and does not seem to have changed in design so I will be getting one of those too.
This is the "Original green log maker", a tubular device made from recycled plastic which is designed to create fire "logs" from old newspaper, light card and even leaves. It does not cope well with glossy paper but that type of paper is usually more noxious to burn anyway. These logs are great for getting a fire started or to get an existing fire really roaring. This is a a good addition to the house for anyone who has fireplaces or solid fuel burners but it will not replace the coal and wood stocks entirely. Think of it more as a way of reducing costs rather than replacing. The other benefit of this of course is that you can burn old bank statements and personal info easily. The manufacturer states that around 30% of the average householder's kitchen bin can be recycled as burnable waste in the Logmaker and in my case I would say it is around 60% which is great.
The logs from this nifty gadget can be used in a garden chimnea, an Aga/Raeburn, an open fire, wood burner or multi-fuel stove. Amazingly you can also use them for a barbeque although I have not tried this out.
I live in a rural area and my entire heating is run from a solid multi-fuel stove. I have top up halogen heaters but I mainly use the fire. It runs my hot water and radiators therefore uses a fair amount of wood and coal. Prices have rocketed in the last few years so anything that diminishes this is a good thing for me.
THE GREEN GIZMO:
This is a heavyweight thick plastic tube in two parts. The second part serves as a plunger for the paper. The whole "tool" measures around 36cm including the plunger part and is approx 7cm wide making it easy to handle and not too difficult to use. It is lightweight but very strong.
WHAT CAN YOU BURN?
Obviously toxic materials such as plastic, treated or painted wood, polythene, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, rubber etc are a big no-no. What you can use as a rule of thumb is anything paper based, but thick card and magazine type paper will clog and not burn well. I add coal dust into mine which burns brilliantly and with a triumphant sizzle. Sawdust and and any kind of waste wood is a good bet and dried teabags work surprisingly well too. I like to shove orange peel in mine as it makes the room smell nice, you could add lavender, rosemary, mint from the garden etc for the same effect.
TIP: Keep your burnable household waste separate to the rest so it is to hand ready for when you go on a log making mission. I use a box with a lid to stop the cats weeing in it....
There are some good pictures available on the net and these will explain it far better than I can. But basically you use a sheet of newspaper to wrap around the outer sleeve until it is all used up. The paper needs to be longer than the tube in order for you to be able to stuff your "fuel" inside. When full of the paper, leaves, card, coal dust etc you use the plunger part to push the material down which flattens and compresses the paper at the bottom of the tube, making a contained end for your "log" so that all of the bits do not fall out. It all sounds terribly complicated but it really is not. Once you have made a couple you will be able to knock these out fast.
With each handful of "fuel" that you add to your "log" you will need to shove the inner tube in to compress it. This will make your log burn longer and also enable you to get more material into your log.
There are levels marked on the plunger part that allow you to make two sizes of log from a little dinky one to a longer one of around 25cm. This is good because all fire grates and burners vary.
To finish your log you shove the plunger down as hard as you can and by holding the top part of the sleeve the log will technically slide out intact and tidy. I say technically because sometimes if you have used too much pressure or the materials are bulky this can be a bit of a workout!
After this, what you are left with is your log. It looks somewhat strange like a newsprint christmas cracker with one end unfinished. It is then up to you to twist the end up tight and shove it by your fire ready to use. Repeat this process until you have enough or your arm falls off....
There is a video here that shows you how to make the logs:
These logs can be used to start the fire off or as fuel for an established fire. They last a little while but obviously you will not get the same burn time from wood and certainly not as from coal. One way that I have found to extend their life is to add a fair bit of coal dust amongst the paper and some hardwood shavings/chips. If you experiment with different materials then you will find out what suits your type of fire and chimney configuration best. The logs give off a very good heat especially when mixed with other fuel types. The website states that the paper log will burn for up to 1 hr depending on the contents but mine burn faster than that due to using other fuel alongside it and also using an enclosed burner. To extend the life of your logs you can soak the paper waste and make longer lasting denser logs. The kit now comes with a tray to help with the drainage from the soaked material. I have not used this as such but have added wet coffee grounds and teabags which do slow the burn rate down.
A quick summary of what you CAN burn:
Tissue, paper, newspaper, sawdust, egg boxes, shredded toilet roll tubes, wood chips, light card, leaves, teabags, dried peel, dried grass, bank statements and letters, junk mail, coffee grounds, nut shells, twigs and coal dust.
* Free fuel
* Recycle paper waste = less landfill and clutter
* Works well
* Reduces coal and wood costs
* Unlike the briquette maker which made wet bricks of paper that needed to be dried out, the Original Green log maker is a dry (damp if you make the materials wet) product ready to go. Because of this the logs will burn faster than the briquettes and you will need more of them.
* There is a lot of ash with these so you will need to keep the grate and chimney clean
* You get arm ache after making a load!
The Original Green Log maker is a great gadget but it will not replace your stash of logs or coal unless you have an open fire and additional heating. However it will significantly reduce your fuel bills. A good stash of these alongside my two woodpiles around the fire and wall means that my wood goes much further than it used to. They stack tidily which means that they do not look too much like an eyesore in your home. They are great for lighting the fire and giving a slow fire a boost. I do recommend it as an addition to your fuel and heating needs.
The Original Green Log maker comes in 3 parts (two tubes and a tray) with full instructions.
Available from http://www.logmaker.org.uk priced at £22.95 plus £2.99 delivery (UK)
(The review title of course comes from the beautiful song by James Taylor called "Fire and rain")
This logmaker is brilliant. Strongly made in recycled green plastic with instructions. NO WATER REQUIRED. Each log made in less than 3 minutes with minimal effort. Do it sitting in armchair watching tele or chatting. Six paper logs made from Sunday Telegraph sheets and put in our morso woodstove and after initially lighting will smoulder for 4 hours and keeps room warm. Also uses paper shreddings, bills, paper etc. I don't use glossy as I put the ashes on the garden for potash. Best not to overstuff unless strong arms to push out core, also leave one end as Christmas Cracker twist so that it makes a good firelighter. Saves a lot of wood and replaces firelighters and kindling. Really really good. Does make a lot of ash, but no problem as it all gets recycled in the garden. Would give it 10 stars for ease of use, and doing what it claims. Jennifer in Wales.
As you all know we have moved into a cottage and have purchased a multi fuel burner - a Hunter Herald Slimline 5 if you are interested - and it is brilliant!
We are now sourcing logs to burn on our new fire and I also spotted a couple of interesting things on EBay with which to make your own logs.
One was a metal contraption which makes briquettes from newspaper and although I purchased one of these we haven't used it much yet so I don't feel as though I have the authority to write a review about it yet so you'll have to wait for that one!
The other thing I purchased was The Original Green Log Maker so we could recycle some of our general rubbish too.
What does it look like?
Well it will be helpful for the purposes of this description if you look at the picture at the top of the review as it is going to be quite difficult to describe adequately.
It is made from heavyweight plastic and consists of two parts. There is an outer sleeve which is 32 cm long and 6.5cm in diameter. This is tubular in shape and has a lip around the top edge. The second part is a plunger which is 36 cm long and 6 cm in diameter and has two graduations one is 14cm from the bottom of the plunger and the other is 26cm from the bottom.
The plunger fits inside the outer sleeve for storage and this is also the basic principle of the use of the Green Log Maker.
What can you use to make the logs?
Obviously the range of things you can use is limited, for instance you cannot use plastics, plastic coated cardboard, rubber or pressure coated or treated wood - in fact the same things that you can't burn in your multi fuel burner anyway.
The things you CAN use are paper, newspaper, junk mail, paper shreddings, wrappings, cardboard, wood chippings, sawdust, dry leaves, twigs, coal dust, tea bags, fruit and olive stones etc. Obviously thing need to be small enough to fit into the tube so cardboard needs to be ripped for example.
You can also add a few drops of essential oil, bits remaining after you have burned perfumed candles (or indeed any candles) rosemary or lavender cuttings or a couple of cinnamon sticks to create a nice fragrance as the log burns.
So how do you make logs?
This is where the description is far more complicated than the actual process, which is dead easy! I am not the worlds best at explaining things so bear with me as I have a go. When I first read the instructions I thought it sounded a bit of a faff but, once I had tried it, I realised that it was really easy.
I have put the website address at the bottom of this review and there are pictures there to show exactly what I mean
First you remove the inner plunger from the outer sleeve.
You then lay a sheet of newspaper on your work surface and place the outer sleeve on it so that the top lip is about 3cm or so above the line of the edge of the newspaper.
Then you wrap the sheet of newspaper around the sleeve so that the sleeve is covered with two or three layers of newspaper. The newspaper should be longer than the sleeve so that you then push the loose paper up into the open end of the bottom of the sleeve. I hope you're still with me!
You then stand the sleeve upright and push the plunger down into it. This has the effect of flattening the loose newspaper at the bottom on the sleeve thus making a base for your log. You then remove the plunger.
All you then do is add the bits and pieces that you have sorted out ready to burn a bit at a time, forcing the plunger into the sleeve after each addition to compact the waste and make the log more solid so that it will burn for longer.
This is where the two graduations on the plunger come in. If you fill your log maker until the first graduation is level with the lop of the sleeve when the plunger is inside you will have a short log of about 14cm long and if you fill it to the second graduation you will have a longer log of about 26cm long.
Once you are happy with the size of your log (if you'll pardon the expression) you then push the plunger down hard whilst gripping the top lip of the outer sleeve so that you effectively push the log and its contents out of the sleeve.
The outer sleeve slides out from between the newspaper and the contents of the log so you are left with a tube of waste wrapped in newspaper. You then twist the open end of the newspaper to finish your log and there you are.
Hints for use
It says in the instructions that you can use tea bags either wet or dry but I would advise drying them out first or you will have difficulty burning the resulting log. It also says that you can dampen paper and cardboard if you find that makes it easier to insert but I don't do this for the same reason.
I make mine with paper tissues, kitchen roll, dry leaves from the garden, tea bags, sawdust from where hubby has sawn logs and any other general bits of paper that happen to be lying around.
To burn the logs you just put them on the fire in the same way as you would put logs of wood on the fire. They burn well and last quite well but obviously not as long as wood!
They can be used on Chimneas, open fires, camp fires, barbeques, kitchen ranges or log burning stoves.
You can use your log maker to make biodegradable seed pots too. Just use a smaller piece of newspaper, follow the instructions for making the outer casing of the log and then carefully push it off the sleeve using the plunger. Turn the edge of the top over to make a neat line and then you can fill it with compost, plant your seeds in it and then plant the whole thing into the garden when the seedlings are ready to go outside.
Where can I buy one and how much are they?
Well there is a website at http://www.logmaker.org.uk/index.html where you can buy a Log Maker for £24.95 plus £2.95 p & p. For that you get your log maker with instructions including photographs!
There are plenty of other 'green' sites that also sell them and. As I say I got mine from EBay where they are currently £22.99 plus £2.95 p & p.
I think it is great! As I say I burn all our used tea bags (and when hubby is at home we get through a fair few of those I can tell you!) together with plenty of paper and some of our garden waste too.
So, after the initial cost of the Log Maker, we are heating our room for free and putting out less rubbish to be collected and recycled on chucked in land fill sites.
This may get posted on Ciao at some time.