Q: I am thinking about taking my dry wood waste and compressing it into firewood logs. Perhaps there are some other uses for this material that are more profitable? Can you suggest a reference to look at?
A: Fine dry wood waste can be steamed and put through a die under pressure to make a pellet or log. However, such a product will be very fragile and break into pieces easily. So, either the wood is heated hot enough to melt the natural adhesive in wood (lignin) or an adhesive is added before compressing. Some logs also have paraffin added to enhance igniting the logs. The key to success with these products is packaging and marketing. Important factors include ease of carrying by an average person, cleanliness when carried in a car and ease of igniting. The most profitable opportunities exist near metropolitan areas, where markets are large. The market for such products also tends to be high in the cooler months, but small in the warm months. I do believe that there are better opportunities than these compressed logs.
For information on profitable utilization of by-products, you should check three publications: Uses For Sawdust, Savings, and Waste Chips, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Lab, Research Note FPL-0208 (This is out of print, but any library should be able to get a copy from your state university library on interlibrary loan.); Income Opportunities in Special Forest Products, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agriculture Information Bulletin 666, available in state libraries; Wood Products Value-Added Manufacturing and Finishing: Efficiency, Waste Reduction and Regulations, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Lake Street, Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center, Madison, WI 53706.
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