My first thought was to prowl the city looking for scrap pieces of wood to use as fuel for our indoor fireplace. I had made a habit of this back in Iowa for campfire wood fuel. My main source was the woodshop teacher at my old school who was happy to provide me with clean wood scraps for the campfire. When I first began to look around for scrap wood, I found it quickly, but began to rethink my choices after some thought. Years ago, I would have (and did!) happily burned any old wood I could find- fresh, rotten, painted, chemical-treated, anything. I have since wised up to some of the dangers of burning certain chemicals. Here, I have seen a great deal of wood in construction dumpsters and broken pallets behind loading docks. These look identical to anything I would have found back home, and if/when we go camping and need wood for an outdoor campfire, I'll happily come-a-collecting. I wonder about the safety of burning any construction waste indoors.
That's the key- indoors. Anything that is in the fuel we burn in our living room is going to end up filling our living space with invisible molecules, permeating the walls -and our lungs- with whatever fun compounds are present. Fire and chemistry do not lie, nor do they play favorites, so we have to be careful. I think scrap wood from unknown sources will be out for now.
Never fear! The internet is here!
I had heard of, and maybe had seen some late night infomercials advertising, ways to make firewood-like fuel out of waste paper. After some quick searching, I found many ways to make firewood from the materials I had at hand. Mind you, some of them required buying an expensive piece of equipment, all of which I quickly ignored.
We had a box of loose newspapers and junk mail AND a pile of empty corrugated cardboard boxes from our unpacking and setting up. The paper products needed to soak overnight, so that post will wait for another day. First up, the cardboard...
According to the instructions, the first step is to decide on a uniform(ish) width for all of your logs. I made a template piece (the narrow strip on the right in the first photo) and cut all of the flattened boxes into strips of varying lengths and equal(ish) width.
|Using the template (right) I cut uniform-width pieces|
|Glad the slash was on the cardboard and not the floor!|
|Pretty good stack!|
|A quick soak in the tub|
The yield of three amazon boxes, a printer box, and the IKEA TV stand box was two full-size logs and one half-size log. Set out on the window box to dry, they look like very fat cigars. The drying time should be several weeks, so hopefully I can lay in a pretty good stock of these before the winter blows in.
|Drying on the window box.|
To make more, I'll need much more cardboard and newspaper than we will receive naturally. Don't ask me where I will get the rest of my supply. It's legal, but you might not care to think about it. Maybe, after a rainy day, I can get pre-wetted cardboard, ready to roll...
Edit: The logs, unfortunately, didn't get a chance to show their true potential here in Dublin. I wasn't able to get them fully dry in our damp environment and north-facing window. I did burn them when partially dry, and the outside layers behaved exactly as planned. They burned slowly but not smokily and kicked out enough heat and flame to justify the effort of making them. When the fire reached the not-yet-dry centers, it predictably smoldered out.
I am confident that given enough sun and dry summer air they would have dried to the center and worked great for the winter. Sadly, I won't be making them again as long as we are in this small Dublin apartment.