When I need to get rid of sensitive documents (my definition: anything with identifying information on it), I always run them through a cross-cut shredder. Previously, I’d put this shredded pile into my paper recycling bin, where the garbage men would typically end up dropping half of them as they dumped the paper into the recycling truck, creating a mini Times Square on New Year’s Eve scene in the middle of my street.
At the same time, as a Scout Leader, whenever we go camping we need to find wood to burn for our campfire or stove. Burning these paper shreds just creates a lot of ash and the fuel burns very quickly. But with a paper brick maker, I can reuse my shredded paper and come away with a fuel for camp.
Like I said, I already shred the paper to prevent identity theft. But you can use any paper from your recycling bin, and it doesn’t have to be finely shredded – just tear it up a bit.
Next, you’ll want to soak the paper for a couple of days. I collect rainwater from my gutters in a rain barrel, so that’s the water that I use. This breaks down the paper and helps it form a single brick when you use the mold.
The paper brick maker is used to compress the paper and squeeze most of the water out. You fill the mold with the wet paper, compress it, then repeat. Once you have a full mold of compressed paper, empty it at set in a dry place to dry. Drying time will depend on current weather conditions, but I’ve found it to take at least a week.
The paper bricks burn longer and leave behind less ash than the shredded paper alone. After my paper bank statement and other sensitive documents are shredded, soaked in water, compressed into a brick and finally burned, I know the information is safe.