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What Is a Paper Compressor?

By Mal Baxter
Updated May 17, 2024
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Keeping fireplaces toasty can sometimes be a cost-intensive proposition. Constantly feeding a supply of wood into any fireplace is an idea some are slow to warm to. This task is made simpler with the use of a paper compressor, a piece of equipment that compacts paper into brick form. Whether a small, manual type or large, industrial machine, the equipment usually functions by compressing wet, recyclable paper that dries into a brick. Paper bricks can be combined with other fuel sources to cut costs and quickly warm hearths.

Generally, paper bricks are used as to supplement other fuels. These might include kindling, dried grass, and wood chips, as well as slow-burning logs. Using paper bricks can reduce the amount of firewood needed to operate a working fireplace. Due to the characteristics of paper, it ordinarily functions as a short-burning fuel source. Ease of production and handling, however, make paper bricks a viable and environmentally friendly firewood alternative.

A good final destination for old newspapers and private documents slated for destruction, the paper compressor is essentially comprised of a brick mold and press. Users may strip and soak old paper to load into the compressor tray. Bricks are compacted loosely or tightly, depending on the desired degree of force, as well as how long they are intended to burn. For the manual variety, users press down on large cross handles that squeeze out excess water to form layers and grains of paper within a rectangular mold. Once the bricks are formed, they are usually dried in the sun over a period of days, weeks, or months before use.

Paper compressor technology reduces the demand for natural wood and aids in reduction of deforestation. Environmentally conscious do-it-yourselfers may also use these machines to reduce the energy required to transport firewood. Relying on bricks made from a paper compressor is typically a more cost-effective practice for homeowners.

In factories, large industrial machines perform the same function on a mass production scale. Output from factories provides the means to deal with wastepaper on a large scale. These machines can take up large amounts of space, producing stacked bales of compressed paper. They are sometimes referred to as automatic wastepaper bailers.

The technology enjoys a long international history. For example, paper compressor equipment made of bamboo and wood date back with traditional papermaking technology in countries like Japan. The technique is used with a bamboo frame and screen to create handmade paper. Once powered by muscle or jack, today's brick and bale paper compressors are often run by electric motors.

Whether for an outdoor grill or fire pit, the paper compressor is a useful tool for barbecues, fireplaces, and other activities by firelight. A paper compressor can encourage home recycling. It can also involve the family in getting a little greener by observing environmental practices.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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