Are you searching for alternative heat sources as summer has faded into fall and the prices of electricty, gas, oil and firewood continue to escalate? Our family has found a solution. We roll our own energy sources -- newspaper logs -- trans- muting messy piles of accumulated newsprint into tidy logs suitable for burning in both fireplace and woodburning stove.
Our foray into paper-log production began several Christmases ago when a relative from New York, always the first in the family to supply us with the latest fashions, fads, and gadgets--such as ski-pole handles warmed with solid fuel packs--sent my husband a log-rolling machine.
Some months later he installed it in the utility room where we tried our hands at making logs for our two fireplaces. The mean green machine turned out more skinned knuckles and frayed tempers than logs, but the idea of recycling our newspapers seemed to make sense economically and ecologically, especially since they worked. The logs burned adequately when interspersed with firewood, not producing a blaze but emitting steady warmth.
Log-rolling became a standard chore for our children. The novelty, however, of the machine soon wore off and the job dropped in popularity below taking out the trash.
As is often the case with children and chores, they soon devised a more efficient method of working. They would place overlapping newspaper sections in a long row on the floor, approximately three or four feet in length, then roll up the bundle by hand, securing it with two pieces of twine cut from a 5-pound ball purchased at a local hardware store for $7.50.
The actual diameter of the log varied with the speed with which the child wished to be finished and quality-control standards were soon applied and enforced. Logs 5 to 6 inches in diameter passed the test and were then soaked in a wash-tub of water to which a cupful of laundry detergent had been added. The soaking causes a kind of bonding which helps the logs to burn slower and more efficiently. After thorough drying, the logs are ready to use.
After a time, we noticed another beneficial by-product of the operation. When wondering why the children were taking so long to do the job, we discovered they were reading the papers--not from beginning to end but selecting items which caught their attention as they worked. They'd look up and say, "Hey, listen to this . . . " Previously, they'd perused little but the sports pages and comics.
Comics, incidentally, should not be used in newspaper logs. They, and any colored supplements or paper, are printed with inks which contain heavy metals, such as lead, copper and chromium, which form toxic gases on combustion.
Since we subscribed to two dailies and several local weekly newspapers, our supply soon exceeded our demand. However, we recently added a room to our house, installing in it only a small parlor stove for heating. To our delight, our little Resolute from Vermont Castings devours the newspaper logs, producing cozy warmth night and day. We use only a small amount of wood, kindling to start the fire and an occasional log or two if the fire has died down and we wish to start it burning faster.
Our family is not alone in its blazing battle to fight inflation. Other engery-savers, such as Carlton E. Bausch Jr. of New York, have joined the fray. Bausch's experiences are described in the October 1981 issue of "New Shelter." He converted his oil-fired burner and saved $1,000 last year by heating his house and tap water with newspaper logs.
Perhaps those bureaucrats who are seeking alternative energy sources would do well to convert from paper-pushing to paper-rolling.