Make Your Own Recycled Fireplace Logs

A retiree tells readers how to make their own recycled fireplace logs from rolled up newspaper and spent crankcase oil donated by local garages.

| January/February 1978

Learn how to make your own recycled fireplace logs using newspaper and crankcase oil.

Soak rolled up newspapers in old crankcase on burn them in a specially designed "Sol-R-Grate" log-holder, and what do you get? "Lower heating bills . . . that's what," says Dwight Mills of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Mills — a 72-year-old retiree who's worked in the petroleum and heating fields most of his life — has devised a neat, simple method for transforming old newspapers and used automotive oil into "free" heat for his home using recycled fireplace logs. It's called the Pap-O-Fire method, and it goes like this:

First, Mr. Mills hand-rolls several "paper logs" (each one about 12 inches to 14 inches long by 3 inches or 4 inches in diameter and held together with a single piece of reinforced packaging tape). Next, he places the logs — which he calls "Pap-O-Logs" — in the 20 welded-together 46-ounce juice cans that make up the "rotating wheel" part of his special oil-log processor (see photo). Then Dwight fills the processor's soaker vat with 25 gallons of spent crankcase oil (which he obtains at no cost from a local service station) and turns the half-submerged "fruit can" wheel so that each roll of paper soaks In the oil for two hours and drains for two hours.

"Before I designed this setup," Mills explains, "I came out looking like a grease monkey every time I tried to soak newspaper logs in oil. Now I can load, soak, and unload the logs in my Sunday best!"

Far more important than how the logs are made, however, is the method by which Dwight Mills burns them. For this operation, Mr. Mills has designed a special two-level grate — the "Sol-R-Grate" (see photo in the image gallery) — to provide plenty of air for complete, clean combustion of the oiled newspapers. The vertical spacers of Mills's log-holder are arranged in such a way that they allow air to reach the paper rolls' burning surfaces quickly and evenly . . . but not all of the "logs" that Dwight Mills loads onto his Sol-R-Grate are of the "burning" kind: For greater heat radiation, Mills puts as many as four steel logs (or cylinders) on the grate's upper level, in addition to the three oiled-newspaper logs (one on the upper level, two on the lower level) and one or more "real" (wooden) logs that he usually loads onto the holder.

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