burning paper instead of shredding

louisianagal(z7bMS)December 12, 2009

I still have alot of paper to shred. But I almost killed my shredder, even though I do lubricate it with fine machine oil as per the instructions. My husband fixed it, but I don't know if the shredder will handle all the paper I have. I was wondering about burning the paper in my chiminea, perhaps with some twigs or newspaper logs. I realize it won't be useful as a mulch, but do any of you do that, and just add the ash to your pile. I imagine it would just be a tiny amount of final product. Any thoughts?

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It turns out that shredding paper is pretty tough on the shredding machines, your situation is not unique. UPS will shred by the pound, tho I don't remember the rate. Another solution to the problem would be to place your material to be shredded into a tub, and and water. In a day or two, it will have turned into mush, with no recognizable printing. It can go onto the compost pile, as wet mush.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2009 at 9:58PM
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Burning paper, as any other organic matter, will produce large amounts of pollutants and while it may be permitted in those areas where burning other forms of organic matter it is not a really good idea.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 6:45AM
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I wouldn't do that for two reasons. The second reason is that I've read that ash is a waste of a good garden amendment when put in a compost pile. It's supposed to leach out of a pile very rapidly. My source is either Elliot Coleman or Thalassa Cruso, but I think I've heard it elsewhere as well.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 8:37AM
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I'm not following your logic. If you don't use your paper shredder to shred paper, then what will you do with it? Shredders don't last forever, but when they are working, they should work. If you slow down your pace, I'm sure your shredder can handle all the paper you can feed it, until it's worn down. My last shredder lasted 8 years.

I replaced it with a Fellowes PS-77C. It is rated for 12 sheets, but I usually don't feed more than 8 sheets. Also, they do need breaks to cool down. I really like this model, because they recommend vegetable oil instead of machine oil. I lubricate twice as often as recommended.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 10:27AM
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LA-Gal -- I hope you're not shredding newsprint. It is so easy to hand shred for the compost pile - or better yet to use in garden paths in thick wet slabs covered with mulch. Come to think of it, maybe the path thing isn't so good in LA where you get a lot of rain. It is gangbusters here in the arid southwest. But the burning thing reduces air quality.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 12:05PM
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I really appreciate all the advice and suggestions. I do try to treat my shredder right, following the page limits, and oiling, but I've been through a couple in 4 yrs. Probably will have to get a really good one next time. I recycle newspaper from 2 birdcages, and use to do lasagna gardening. The paper I have is typing paper/xerox paper from outdated educational stuff. It's a big stack. I think I will do the "paper in water" procedure, becoz I am going to drain 2 rain barrels, and then I'll just mix with greens on the compost piles (I have 3 piles). Thanks.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 1:46PM
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I used to shred paper, but dang! I had so much that it took too long;
it was seriously eating into my playing-outdoors time.

so I tear paper into halves or fourths & drop it into a 5-gallon pickle bucket;
when the bucket gets fullish, I empty it into the compost.

Also, cardboard boxes are hard to dismantle, what with seams & glue & staples & whatnot, & I learned on this very forum to soak them;
I set the box into a Rubbermaid tote with some water in it, & remove the mushy stuff when I'm in the mood or when I get more cardboard.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 3:14PM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have burned a few of the sensitive financial papers in a chiminea, but I find it pretty easy to use paper for sheet composting or mulching rather than fussing with burning, tearing or shredding. I use white copy paper, newspaper, and/or cereal boxes as the first paper layer in a lasagne bed/mulch and particularly for smothering weedy areas. Then I put down a 2nd layer of cardboard - brown side up because I prefer the natural brown color to the garish colors of white or colored paper. Then I start layering organics or spread wood chips on top of that.

Some of it goes into the curbside paper recycling with the junk mail and food boxes.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 7:03PM
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Will try to make this brief - good practice for me, so if you have questions, ask in this thread or send me an email from gardenweb or my thesoilguy website.

First, a paper/water slurry (any paper) is best, but compost microbes have a hard time handling JUST thick paper mush. Innoculate the slurry with some finished compost, just as you do when you build a new pile.

I prefer a quality "X-type" paint stir rod on a drill, but however you mix it, fill the bucket only half full, with the slurry, then add two small shovels of your compost along with one small handful of Blood Meal per bucket (or nitrogen as a liquid). Add more water as needed and stir well.

Dip with a coffee can (full bucket is too heavy for me) and toss on the compost pile and break up/mix the mess in, with a garden rake (onto layers is best then water it in). Will disappear quickly, even in a late-turn pile.


    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 2:52PM
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I would make paper mush using water and paper and use it as mulch around ornamental flowers and plants.


You could burn the paper to the point that it's thin charcoal and then mix that into your soil to help prevent erosion of dirt like the Aztecs use to use, because there are parts of their fields that still remain black and brown in the rain forest. Charcoal holds the soil in place and keeps nutrients for leaching away keeping the soil rich for many years. The CO2 blocks/Charcoal has lots of holes and caverns that help hold what could have leached away.
I would do this method because it locks away CO2 that could have been burned into the atmosphere for those complaining about CO2 emissions. Plus, itÂs stupid for people on Gardenweb.com to be complaining about CO2 emissions because they are releasing tons of CO2 emissions into the air from the power plants that are powering their computers. Plus, those complaining about CO2 emissions should even be on the computer, else your just full of hot air.


Burn to ash and sprinkle the ash on your garden and lawn.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2009 at 6:01PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

To troll - I mean forestelves -

itÂs stupid for people on Gardenweb.com to be complaining about CO2 emissions because...

Want to know what's REALLY stupid? People who come on GardenWeb and complain about GardenWeb members who DONATE their time, trying to help people.

Why so antagonistic?

My computer is powered by a little hamster that runs 'round and 'round on a wheel. :-)


    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 7:28AM
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There is a lot of people out there on Gardenweb.com complain about the world and CO2 emissions, which is stupid. So in other words youÂre calling yourself stupid val_s of z5 central IL. So it is true people who live in the middle of the USA are mean people.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 12:15PM
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bill13286(7 DFWTX)

forestelves, I think Val was calling you stupid. I think several others would agree with Val.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 1:02PM
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It's not nice to p'-off Mother Val...
Hi Val - good to see you're still 'monitoring'...
I owe you a great debt for 'mothering' my website into existence - Thank You.

Paper mulch around plants is NOT a good idea. Think about it.
Generally whitish, breaks down very slowly exposed to air, provides no nutrients and sheds water AWAY from plants.

You ever try to burn paper into charcoal? Can't happen.
You either didn't take physics in high school...or forgot.

It was NOT the Aztecs, and whoever it was, DIDN'T have paper back in 450 to 950 B.C.

The soil is called Terra Praeta and sites generally follow the Amazon River. According to Wikipedia, "Terra preta is characterized by the presence of LOW-TEMPERATURE charcoal (wood charcoal, but NOT that from grasses or high cellulose wood - that paper is made from) in high concentrations; [along with] high quantities of pottery sherds; of organic matter such as plant residues, animal feces, fish and animal bones and other material..." In other words, COMPOST.

So your theory about minimizing CO2 emmisions thereby, are full of holes - because charcoal is made (especially from the 'slash/char' method used of those ancient people - as opposed to slash/burn) by BURNING WOOD into the atmosphere. CO2 emissions...Hello??

And it took a couple thousand years to make the soil into what it is today. High-humus composting is MUCH faster and more effective by adding high population densitiy and diversity of microbes directly into soil - that are responsible for converting OM into plant nutrition.

Sprinkling alkaline paper ashes on already-alkaline soil is NOT a good idea - garden or lawn, and ashes tend to run off with rain and contribute to potassium pollution. If the ash were primarily burnt paper, this will also have bonding agents & recycle-bleaches that can add toxic salts to a compost or garden (which are mediated by microbes in compost, if the paper is not burned).


Here is a link that might be useful: Terra Praeta Info

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 1:56PM
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"Why so antagonistic?"

Whoa!! That thar is a purdy big werd fur a guud ole boi. Kan yu splain ecksatly wat yu meen buy that usin shirt wurds four I.


    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 2:12PM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

To forestelves 6 KS:

There is a lot of people out there on Gardenweb.com complain about the world and CO2 emissions

Not true - there's only a few people that exert their opinion on that topic and it's not hurting you. Don't read their messages if it bothers you.

youÂre calling yourself stupid val_s of z5 central IL

I have been known to call myself stupid from time to time - no big revelation there :-)

people who live in the middle of the USA are mean people.


To Soilguy -

for 'mothering' my website into existence

Now Robert, all I did was give you a gentle push. (grin) It looks great by the way! Yes, still monitoring. It's been a hell-of-a-year but I'm trying to get back into the swing of things.

And to Loyd -

Antagonistic = troll

Short enough? LOL


    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 2:50PM
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Wow, I didn't know that all of middle America is full of mean people. forestelves thanks for enlightening me. 9_9

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 9:33PM
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Val, I hope PETA doesn't find out about your hamster.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 6:01AM
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val_s(z5 central IL)


The hamster is a clone of the original so it obviously doesn't have any "feelings" for PETA to worry about. It saves on electricity so the "green" people should be good with it, right?


    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 11:27AM
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Google or Yahoo 'Charcoal made form Paper', 'making charcoal from Paper', or 'Paper made into charcoal' and you will see you can make charcoal from paper. If you doubt me Google, yahoo, or ask.com to see if I'm wrong.

Check this site

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 11:28AM
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Forestelves--Did you read what you linked? That wasn't about making charcoal from paper. It was about making charcoal from wood. The process used a small amount of paper to start the fire.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 11:41AM
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That technique can still be use for turning paper into charcoal/biochar, because I have done it and if you ever have a fire and clean up the ash and coals you will find pieces of charred paper in with the ash. Plus, I put charcoal/biochar in my garden and this year and I had some nice cabbages.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2009 at 4:46PM
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Actually the energy input to produce the "bio char" is greater then what you get from it, just as producing "bio fuels" requires more energy then is provided by them. In addition you have the pollution, not just the CO2, that is produced. Anyone that burns anything near me produces an asthama attack, one that for me anyway has not yet been severe enough to require hospitalization, but I do know many asthmatics that have been when subjected to the pollutants from burning organic matter.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 6:52AM
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At the end of the season, when cleaning up the garden, I dig holes wide and deep enough so that after dumping all them papers there is enough room to cover with about 10 or 12 inches of soil. It doesn't seem to bother the veggies the following year.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2009 at 5:04PM
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