Paper bricks, as their name implies, are bricks made out of paper, usually newspaper. These brick-shaped products constructed from paper are intended to be burned in place of firewood in fireplaces. The use of paper bricks can stem from a desire to save money because they are sometimes cheaper than firewood. Paper bricks also can be a way to quickly start a fire in a fireplace whose main source of fuel is regular firewood.
Usually the firewood substitutes are made in a brick mold. The process requires newspapers to first be soaked in water before they are inserted into the mold. Paper should be shredded to allow a better breakdown of the paper’s fibers. The mold, which features a hand-operated press, offers the convenience and ease of compressing the water from the sodden newspapers. This compression requires the mold to be packed very full of the wet newspaper at the start of the process because compression will shrink the material. The mold, while compressing water from paper, also shapes the paper into bricks.
One of the most important aspects of making and using paper bricks is allowing enough time for the bricks to dry before use. The length of time to dry will vary by time of year and location, with summer being an optimal time because of high seasonal temperatures that facilitate evaporation. It is not a quick process, and some recommendations call for a drying period of several weeks or longer.
Cardboard and papers intended for the recycling bin can be used instead of newspaper. No matter the type of paper used, people making these types of brick substitutes can also mix the paper or cardboard with other materials, such as chopped grass or wood chips. One estimate says the use of bricks constructed from such a combination calls for the burning of four bricks per hour in a fireplace for comfortable use.
It is possible for a paper brick to be made in under a minute. Soaking the paper takes considerably more time, at least 60 minutes and possibly longer. One recommendation estimates four days as a good amount of soaking time, with the paper needing to be mixed and agitated periodically during longer soak periods. The cutoff time is 10 days since any longer could create a problem with bacteria.