Sticking with the log burner, frugal living topic (and this is my final post on the subject – honest) there are a couple of good and bad things about newspaper. So do you want the good news or the bad?
I’ll give you the bad news first. There are a number of gadgets on sale for about 12 Euros which claim to convert simple newspapers to logs which can be burned on the log-burner. Given that you have already paid for the newspapers they suggest that the heat they give is free.
Well, I didn’t pay 12 Euros for my gadget. I got it at a car boots sale for £2 thank goodness. I say thank goodness because, quite frankly I would have felt well ripped-off if I had paid any more. So what’s wrong with it doesn’t it work? Yes it works but the logs aren’t worth the effort. Firstly you have to tear up the paper and soak it for several days in a tub of water. Then when it has turned into a disgusting gooey mush you drag it out by the dripping handful and push it into the gadget which is a kind of mould. This compresses the paper fibres. Water and pulp leak out of every surface – and hey! You’ve got a brick.
Its no use to you however until it has dried out – and the bricks don’t dry that easily if they are stacked – so you need a pretty big under cover area to dry them and you have to turn them frequently. Once dry they can be stacked but they must be kept well away from humidity because they seem to have properties a little like salt, or blotting paper– they absorb damp and seem eager to return to their dripping state.
Now, that’s not the bad news – we haven’t got there yet. The bad news is that they stink when they burn and they give out little heat. The other problem is that being composed of softwood fibres; they probably don’t do your burner any good either.
Ok so now for the good news – well newspaper makes a fine mulch and an excellent compost so you can achieve something for nothing after-all. Better still, before you throw them on the compost use them to clean the glass on your wood-burner stove. Simply wet them, scrunch them up into balls, dip them into the cooled ash in your stove and wipe the glass with them. You’ll be amazed at how effective they are. Better in fact than bought products. Now wood-ash is what gardeners refer to as ‘potash’ – so the ash stuck on the newspaper actually improves the newspaper as a composting product.
Now if you can find a free source of newsprint, – well it has to be a pretty good idea doesn’t it. So whereas my French neighbours paint ‘pas de pub’ (no publicity brochures please) on their letter boxes – I welcome all of it.