Make Fireplace Logs Out of Old Newspaper

I love fire. It's the best. So simple. So easy to understand. Sometimes I think I smoke cigarettes just so I can keep a lighter around. Which is to say: I don't have a fireplace. This winter I'll be snuggling up to an electric heater with a mug of warm Gatorade, as per traditional in New York. Naked and alone, slathered in Chinese take-out, exactly as each of my friends instructed me to do when I asked them if I could come over for the holidays. Which is to try again to say: I have no need for a "Newspaper Brick Maker," a device with which to smoosh damp newspaper into bricks for burning in the fireplace. It's nowhere as good as recycling the paper, of course. In fact, it's probably worse than just throwing it away, since it will release the carbon into the air instead of going back into the ground. Which is to finally say: I guess don't buy this $30 press. But I think that it's a neat idea. Pity about that whole environment thing. Catalog Page [ via Oh Gizmo]
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22 Responses to Make Fireplace Logs Out of Old Newspaper

  1. spike55151 says:

    Ahhh,.. well that certianly opens up some new culinary possibilities!

  2. Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:

    It’s nice to know that our neighbors live exactly as we do. The old traditions are the best.

  3. Not a Doktor says:

    Ahh this will be great for my outdoor fireplace*, before I used to take old phone books and fold five pages into an “A” shape (one corner in by the binding, same with the other)

    *copper bowl with a grate

  4. Anonymous says:

    Burned or composted, same difference, Joel. You burn it or the fungi in the soil consume it and that newspaper becomes CO2 and minerals either way.

    The only difference would be if the newspaper did not burn completely and cleanly, which would add soot to the atmosphere.


  5. Tensegrity says:

    That’s nothing new. My dad bought a contraption like this about 30 years ago that rolled the newspapers into a log shape. It didn’t work well at all and we never used it again.

  6. dbutler1986 says:

    Right, cuz smoking cigarettes doesn’t release any CO2 into the atmosphere… :-/

  7. caipirina says:

    We had a similar thing over 20 years back at my parents home .. it is a lot of work .. and you need to dry those darn bricks for a very very long time …. my mom stuck to this environmental fad a very short time :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hehe, I am going to do the same. Unfortunately, I don’t have an fireplace either. Anyway, you should take some sts carnitine juice next to you. This way you won’t even feel that you are passing through the wintertime without having that most wanted fireplace.

  9. Fnarf says:

    Newspapers in landfills don’t release carbon into the atmosphere when they decompose, because they don’t decompose. Neither does much of anything else, except the really wet stuff. Landfills are almost perfectly anaerobic. Garbologists routinely find newspapers that are fifty years old or older in perfect, readable and flexible, condition when they dig landfills. It’s a better way to preserve them than leaving them out on your coffee table.

    I would expect these “logs” to release massive quantities of floating ash, and stinky smoke.

  10. anthropomorphictoast says:

    My adult mind thinks “Hey, this would be a great space-saving technique for the recycling pile.” while my inner child says “Dude, I could build a FORT with that thing!”

  11. jenjen says:

    I bet this is not so good for your chimney. We had one of those log roller thingies in the 70s and it was bad news. However, newspaper ink probably was a lot more toxic then than it is now.

  12. Johan Larson says:


    What has the environment ever done for us, anyway?

  13. jimkirk says:

    The catalog page says it’s 101″ x 31″ x 43″. I don’t think it would fit in my living room.

  14. Tombola says:

    My parents also bought one 20 years ago, probably from that ad in the Guardian.
    I have a vague memory of us down the garden on a cold afternoon, arm deep in a dustbin full of icy cold newspaper slush, making a pile of extremely wet bricks (I can’t even remember where/how we dried them out)
    We didn’t do that again.

  15. joefrommaine says:

    Well burning would certainly put all the carbon back into the atmosphere but throwing them away also puts quite a bit of the carbon back into the atmosphere when eaten up by the bacteria.

  16. Michiel says:

    The trees they were made from haven’t been around for longer than a couple of years.

    It’s not millions of years old carbon dioxide. Don’t worry.

  17. spike55151 says:

    From the environmental angle, I worry less about the carbon and more about all the heavy metals and VOCs used in the ink!

  18. Simon Greenwood says:

    This was, and could still be, a regular offer in the back pages of the Guardian, presumably working on the assumption that its readers were concerned that they weren’t doing enough for the environment in putting their back issues aside for recycling.
    The principle is like peat, I understand. The blocks that the log maker makes are heavily compacted and provide a slow burn rather than a fast one, and as such as are well suited to powering Agas, which, of course, all Guardian readers own.

  19. Umbriel says:

    Wouldn’t these blocks be a bit more hazardous than logs in terms of producing more flying embers that might ignite things in your chimney, or outside?

  20. mikeyboy says:

    spike: there are no heavy metals or VOCs in newspaper ink. newspaper ink is soy based. it’s edible. that’s how you can take home a fish wrapped in a newspaper.

  21. i0i says:

    On the subject of floating ash and stinky smoke, that is what you get from fast burning loose paper, not compacted bricks.
    However, the photo is a con. These particular retailers have just taken a house brick and glued some news paper to the outside. In reality these paper bricks must be made from mashed up paper that has soaked for a good few hours. You need the fibers to loosen, and then reform as it dries. The result is a heavy block, the same weight as wood that burns slowly and cleanly.

    Be warned, it’s a very messy process with inky water oozing all over the place and buckets full of gloopy paper pulp. It required loads of paper and lots of time, so best done in one big batch.

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