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As winter approaches, many homeowners are eagerly anticipating the opportunity to use their fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. Preparation for the season typically involves chimney cleaning and, of course, securing firewood. Nothing else quite matches the scent of burning oak, maple, or fir, but if you’re looking to save a few bucks, it’s easy to make your own newspaper logs. There’s more than one method, but this is the simplest.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Large basin or bucket
- Dish soap
Separate the newspaper into sections; one or two will go into the creation of each log. (Use the whole newspaper if it’s a small publication—for example, a paper you pick up free at the grocery store.) Next, fill your wash basin with warm water and about a teaspoon of dish soap. Soak the newspaper, being certain to submerge it completely. Allow it to soak for at least one hour but no more than 18, because at that point the paper degrades to a degree that makes it difficult to manage in later steps.
Remove the newspaper from the wash basin and lay it on a flat surface. (This stage can get a little messy, so it’s wise to do it outside.) Place the dowel over the newspaper, then roll the paper onto the dowel, squeezing out the water as you go.
Gently remove the dowel from its position within the roll of newspaper. Place the paper log in a spot where it won’t be disturbed. Depending on the temperature and humidity in your area, it may take as little as three days or as long as two weeks for the log to dry out completely.
Once dry, the logs are ready to burn. If you’ve rolled them tightly, as you should do, they are going to be rather dense, and will initially require kindling to catch on fire. Compared with the genuine article, a newspaper log is likely to produce a greater quantity of ash, but its emissions are less harmful. So, in effect, you get to be green in two ways at once: by recycling your newspapers and by burning cleaner fuel.
Pass the marshmallows and throw another log on the fire!