It’s tempting to burn newspapers in the wood stove, as a way of supplementing the wood supply and getting free heat. Works for me — they burn pretty cleanly and it keeps the house from filling up with old newspapers.
Where people go wrong is when they try to make newspaper logs. I remember my parents trying a couple of different methods of doing this. The results were always terrible, and soon there was a disused newspaper-log roller gathering dust on the hearth. Waste of money.
So I was pretty surprised to discover a zero-effort method of burning newspapers that works like a charm. Here’s how I do it:
- Take a thick stack of newspapers and lay them flat on the hearth. Say, 1-3 days’ worth of papers, depending on how thick your local paper is.
- Build a fire on top of the newspapers. Just build it the way you usually would, with tinder and kindling and logs and stuff. The newspapers are supplemental, not the main event.
- That’s it. Sitting in a stack at the bottom of the fire, the newspapers will burn slowly, taking about as long to burn as the logs. Maybe longer. But they will burn completely, leaving nothing but fine ashes.
As you can see, there’s nothing to this trick. Simplest thing in the world. But I’ve never heard of anyone else using it. Sadly, they still mess around with newspaper logs to no great purposes, since most of these folks have enough wood on hand that they don’t need to resort to fires that use nothing but newspaper.
By the way, if you want to learn all there is to know about woodburning, I recommend Jay Sheldon’s “Solid Fuels Encyclopedia.” Like most really great books, it’s out of print, but used copies are easily found on Amazon.