The United States is extremely inefficient when it comes to energy consumption. Our dependence upon this finite resource could very well be our Achilles’ heel. What will happen when these fuel sources are depleted? Or, if we were in the middle of an emergency and ran out of our fuel source?
I have often emphasized how important it is to have fuel stored for emergencies. That said, not enough emphasis has been placed on renewable energy streams.
Turn Your Newspapers into Fuel
Biomass is comprised of compressed compounds containing various organic materials, including corn husks, coconut shells, grass clippings, dried leaves, sawdust, cardboard or paper. Learning how to make alternative fuel sources using the items you have around is an essential survival skill to learn. In this case, trash really is literally a treasure. Phone books, newspapers, old homework paper and other paper-based rubbish that we would normally throw away can be fashioned into a green fuel source.
In 2006, the U.S. produced more than 227 billion kilograms (kg) of solid waste; this equates to approximately 2.1 kg per person per day, where approximately half of this amount is in the form of paper and horticultural rubbish. Conversion of these wastes into combustible biomass briquettes would provide a means to satisfy individual energy needs while alleviating landfill use. (Source)
Biomass bricks and/or briquettes are an alternative to other emergency fuel sources and a good back-up fuel when you use up your other fuel sources in a shtf event. Further, those that live within the city limits could easily make this and keep warm in the winter without having to invest in large amounts of wood. You can make a log-size biomass brick using old newpapers. Making your own biomass fire logs is a good way to make use of old newspapers and an inexpensive alternative fuel source. They work well and can burn for about 15-20 minutes each, you can make them yourself and the best part is they are practically free.
You can purchase an inexpensive log maker here, or make your own.
Suggested Items to Use:
- Newspaper or phone book paper (ripped from the spine)
- 5-gallon bucket (you could even use your sink, if you don’t have a plastic container)
- Ivory soap (optional)
- Wooden dowel
- String (optional)
1. Collect materials. Get all the newspaper and phone books you can get your hands on. Separate newspapers into sheets by tearing newspaper sheets in half. Many stores have newspaper recycling bins close by or you can get free newspapers at grocery stores to use. Ensure that it is alright with the manager before you go dumpster diving.
2. Soak your materials. Add a few drops of Ivory soap and fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and soak your newspaper and phonebook pages in the water until it is thoroughly soaked. About 1-2 hours.
3. Drain and roll. Drain the water from the bucket and pull out the newspaper. Get a wooden dowel and lay out sheets of newspaper about 6-8 sheets at a time overlaying each other. When I do this, I use a wooden paper towel holder we have in our kitchen. Roll them up using the dowel while pushing down firmly. Continue adding newspaper and rolling until your rolls are anywhere from 2-6 inches in diameter.
4. Tie paper logs and wait. When you have reached the desired thickness, remove the dowel from the newly rolled newspaper log. Ensure there is open space in the middle of the newspaper (this will help the logs catch fire faster). Tie string around your logs to keep your rolls tight as they dry over the next several days. Place rolls with the with the seam facing down while drying so they don’t unroll in the drying process.
When the biomass fire logs has thoroughly dried and are ready to light up, use kindling or fatwood to get the fire going. Once the fire is going place the log in the fire and enjoy the heat from your homemade biomass log.
It’s as simple as 1-2-3-4, folks! Start collecting newspapers and papers you have lying around the house to begin making your paper logs. It’s easy and won’t cost you a penny!
Tess Pennington is the editor for ReadyNutrition.com. After joining the Dallas chapter of the American Red Cross in 1999, Tess worked as an Armed Forces Emergency Services Center specialist and is well versed in emergency and disaster management and response. Tess is the author of The Prepper’s Cookbook: 300 Recipes to Turn Your Emergency Food into Nutritious, Delicious, Life-Saving Meals. When a catastrophic collapse cripples society, grocery store shelves will empty within days. But by following Tess’s tips for stocking, organizing, and maintaining a proper emergency food supply, your family will have plenty to eat for weeks, months, or even years.