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New Old News

By Leanne Murphy, Stanley

What will you do with this newspaper when you’ve finished reading it?

Perhaps you’ll be doing any number of things to re-use these sheets of fine penmanship, but if you’re going to throw it in the recycling, could my hubby and I have it?  You see, it’s paper-brick-making season, and we’re after some heart-warming stories.  

Now paper bricks don’t have quite the fiery chutzpah as a nice solid bit of red gum, but they can have a meaningful role to play in the home wood-burning stove, for those who can spare the time to make them.

Their main claim to fame in our house is as fire starters.  In the early morning, when there are still a few coals glowing from the night before, we throw a paper brick on with some pine cones, and in a matter of minutes the fire is alive again, burning for up to an hour without extra material.     

The downside is that they do reduce down to a fine ash, so care needs to be taken when emptying the stove.  But otherwise, if we’ve paid for our daily newspaper, it seems a shame not to utilise that investment as much as we can within our own home. 

The method we use is to tear our newspapers in strips into two big tubs, and fill the tubs with water.  The tubs are left for a few days to soak, and afterwards given a good stir with a gardening fork to break up the strips into a fibrous mush.

Our Kambrook Combusta Brik Maker is loaded to the top with the mush and pushed down firmly by hand to fit more in, then two handles are brought up to cross over and press down on a metal tray insert which squeezes out excess water.  The wet brick is turned out onto a sturdy rack and left to dry for a few weeks, after which we store them in our wood shed.

Our two tubs make about 20-24 bricks in a 2-hour session, which could be seen as a tedious use of leisure time.  But there’s a meditative quality to the exercise after the first few bricks are made, not to mention the small pleasure of knowing that with our own hands, we have the power to create our own starter heat through recycling the very thing you’re reading right now. 

And that’s great news!

Photos can be found at http://www.noodlybark.com.au/noodlybark/63/74/Paper-Bricks.htm

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