DIY Paper Briquettes

I recently came across a neat way to recycle newspaper by turning it into briquettes for burning in your fireplace or wood stove. While there are many different techniques I’ve found, this one seems to be the simplest.

You’ll need a stack of newspapers, two five gallon buckets, water, plywood, bricks or free weights, a ruler, a drill, and a saw.

Take the newspaper and tear it into strips. Only use the actual newsprint pages, discard any of the glossy ads. Fill one of the buckets about halfway with water. You can add one tablespoon of bleach or dish soap if you want as that will speed up the process going forward. Add newspaper strips to the water until it is more newspaper than water. Agitate it with a plunger or stick for a bit to make sure all of the newspaper is soaked through. Let it sit for an hour or so. The idea here is that the newspaper will break down a bit into pulp. Bleach or dish soap will accelerate that process.

While you’re waiting, take the second bucket and drill 1/8″ holes in the sides, going to about 5″ from the bottom. Drill a lot of holes, shoot for one about every 2″ in something of a grid pattern. Do not drill holes in the bottom of the bucket, just the sides.

Take the bucket and turn it upside down onto the plywood. I’d not use any plywood thinner than maybe 3/8″. Using a pencil, trace around the bucket on the plywood. Take the bucket off and measure the thickness of the lip of the bucket. Draw another circle on the plywood, inside the first circle, accounting for the thickness of the lip on the bucket, plus a hair more. The idea here is you’re going to make a disk of plywood that will fit inside the bucket.

Cut out the disk with your saw. A jigsaw will probably work best, if you have access to one. Sand down the edges a bit if you’d like.

Remove the soaked newspaper from the first bucket and place it in the bottom of the second bucket. Fill it to six or seven inches from the bottom. Place your plywood disk over the newsprint and slowly push it down by hand. Then, add a few bricks or weights to push it down further. Let this sit for a half hour or so. This all serves to squeeze as much water as possible from the newspaper.

Remove the weights or bricks, then turn the bucket upside down to let the plywood and newspaper briquette to slide out. Allow the briquette to dry for several hours. When it is done, it should feel crinkly to the touch.

If you have extra buckets, you could make 3-4 or more at a time. You might also consider staining or painting your plywood disk to protect it from the long-term effects of the water it will be exposed to during this process.

If you have access to quantities of sawdust, consider adding some of that to your newspaper “soup.” But be sure the sawdust isn’t from pressure treated lumber.

Post-Collapse Wealth

We’ve discussed barter a time or two but I thought we might talk about it a bit more today. I stroll through several different online forums on a regular basis. Some I’m pretty active with and others I just lurk. I find it interesting how topics seem to ebb and flow. Barter is one of those topics that just seems to pop up out of nowhere and is suddenly popular on several sites all at once. Having noticed that happening again in the last couple days, I figured I’d go along with the flow.

It should go without saying that after a societal collapse, paper money will likely be essentially worthless. Hard goods will be the new currency, at least for some time. Gold and silver will probably retain value as well and it would be wise to perhaps hedge your bets, so to speak, and diversify your barter investments between valuables like coins and goods for trading.

Personally, I dislike the idea of trading ammunition, despite many other people seeming to believe the .22 round will become the new dollar. I wouldn’t want to trade anything to someone that could come back to haunt me, know what I mean?

To my way of thinking, barter goods should meet this requirements:

1) They should be inexpensive to obtain now but will likely have great value, post-collapse.

2) They should be items you are likely to use yourself if they aren’t traded. There is little sense in spending money to obtain and store items that would have no value to yourself.

3) They should be relatively small or at least easy to divide up for trading. This allows for more accurate and fair trading.

So, what sorts of things would meet all those requirements? Examples include:

–Strike anywhere matches
–Thread, needles, patches
–Paracord
–Booze
–Tobacco
–Heirloom seeds
–Pool shock for water purification
–Instant coffee
–Salt

There are also some larger items that would probably bring something of a premium price down the road.

–Hand tools
–Garden tools
–Car batteries (for solar arrays)
–Lumber

On a forum earlier today, someone suggested firewood. Personally, I really don’t know if obtaining firewood will be that much of an issue except perhaps in very urban areas. But I suppose something of a cottage industry could eventually come to fruition whereby a guy or gal with good axes and saws could provide cut and split firewood in exchange for this or that commodity.

Remember though, meet your own needs first, then worry about stocking up on potential trade items.

Animal Antibiotics

For several years, preppers and survivalists have turned to veterinary supply houses to purchase antibiotics for use if standard medical care becomes unattainable due to societal collapse or some other major disaster. Unless you really and truly know what you’re doing, I cannot stress enough the danger of going this route.

First of all, with the fish antibiotics (which seem to be the most popular for purchase amongst survivalists), I recently learned that many times the medications being sold are actually expired. What happens is they are manufactured for human consumption. If they are not sold prior to their expiration, they are ok to use on animals for one year. Like anything else, the expiration date may turn out to be somewhat arbitrary but suffice to say that if you’re buying these meds from a vet supply store, odds are good they are past their prime already. Then, they’ll sit in your first aid supply closet for how long before they might need to be used? They do get less effective over time.

Some of these meds, like the tetracycline, don’t degrade over time but actually get more potent and consuming them could damage your kidneys.

Using the wrong antibiotic can result in not only killing off the infection you wish to fight but also negatively impact other bacteria and organisms in your body. Some of those things are actually good for you and killing them off will not help the patient recover.

Plus, misuse of these medications can result in actually strengthening resistant strains of bacteria, making it all that much harder to fight off next time. I’m told that the DEA is starting to clamp down on purchases of animal antibiotics for this reason.

If you are fully trained in the use of these medications and know what you’re doing, more power to you. If you aren’t though, please think twice about it.