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PostHeaderIcon How To Make Biomass Briquettes For Survival Fuel

In a previous post I have shown you how to make a biomass briquette press out of a simple caulk gun and PVC tubing. Now I will show you how to make biomass briquettes using your new biomass briquette press.

Here is the previous article on How To Make A Caulk Gun Biomass Press.

People living in the cities may not have access to a lot of wood to burn to survival or a grid down type of situation. This is a perfect survival tip for city dwellers or people with access to a lot of scrap paper.

All you need is a lot of paper to make your own biomass briquettes. You can use just about any sort of combustible materials but paper should be used as the binding material. Use at least 50% paper mixed with sawdust, shredded leaves or other burnable materials. For this project we will be using only paper. In a later project I will show you how to mix 50 – 50 paper and leaves picked up from your lawn.

You will need a paper shredder to make this easy. In a survival situation you can hand shred paper or make your own paper shredded if needed.

Make Biomass Briquettes

Get a bucket and fill it halfway with paper. Pour in enough water to soak the paper well. Now stir the mess with a stick to make sure all the paper is soaked. Put it aside for a day.

The next day stir the slurry well, mixing the paper pulp with the water. For best results stir the paper slurry a few times each day for the next 5 days. In a true emergency situation you can do this in only 3 days if needed.

When the paper has broken down you will have a nice sloppy mash. Most of the paper should be broken down and the pulp has separated.

Now your paper slurry is ready to be placed into the biomass briquette press and pressed into bricks.

Get your caulk gun biomass press and place a metal washer in the slotted end. Holding it in place with one hand, use your other hand to fill the tube up to the top with your paper slurry. When it is full you can still press it down a bit by hand and press in some more pulp.

Making Biomass Briquettes

When you are finished, top it off with another washer and place the filled tube into your caulk gun.

Press slowly in the handle of the caulk gun, squeezing the water out of the pulp. You can hold it over your bucket to catch the water coming out and re-use the water for another batch later.

When you have pressed the pulp down tightly with the caulk gun, wait a few seconds for the water to finish draining out.

Now you can release the tube from your caulk gun and press your new homemade biomass briquettes out of the tube. You may need a long handled screwdriver or wooden dowel to do this. A tree branch or broom handle works well too.

Place your briquettes outside in the sun to dry for a week or two. When they are dry, they will feel very light. Keep them protected from dew and rain.

Now your biomass briquettes are ready to use.

Homemade Biomass Briquettes

The briquettes can be used in a charcoal grill, wood stove or even in an old clean paint can in emergency. You can use your briquettes for emergency survival heat or cooking as needed.

This simple project can save your life one day. Just having the materials available in case of disaster can make a lot of difference. In New York City after Hurricane Sandy many people were left without heat and light for weeks. Some had not power or heat for months.

The biomass briquettes can be used to boil water to provide a safe source of clean drinking water in emergency as well.

There are many uses for biomass briquettes. All you need is a source of shredded paper and flammable bio materials.

PostHeaderIcon How To Make A Simple Biomass Briquette Press

A biomass briquette is a hand or machine made briquette made up of just about any sort of small, flammable material which is pressed together under pressure and then dried. This makes a long burning briquette using scrap material that would be otherwise useless as a fuel source. Example materials are paper, newspapers, leaves, coconut husks, wood shavings and others.

There are various methods for making a biomass press ranging from using a hydraulic car jack to a simple caulk gun. This article will show you how to make one using a caulk gun and some PVC pipe. This method is very simple and affordable.

Make a caulk gun biomass briquette press
A homemade caulk gun biomass press

Make A Caulk Gun Biomass Press
PVC pipe fitting into caulk gun

The materials you will need are a caulk gun, about 18 inches of 1 1/2 inch white PVC pipe, some fender washers with just under 2 inch outer diameter and two 2 inch hose clamps.

The tools you will need are a hack saw, a standard screw driver, a straight edge and a permanent marker.

This is a very simple and fast project.

Take your PVC pipe and insert it into the caulk gun as shown below. Then take your permanent marker and hold it against the pipe, near the end of the caulk gun as seen below. Spin the pipe around until you have a perfect circular mark around the edge of the pipe.

Marking PVC Pipe For Biomass Press

Now remove the pipe and cut it with your hack saw along the line you just made. Remove the burrs from the edges carefully.

Using your marker, mark the pipe in thirds along one end as seen below. Now take a straight edge and draw a line along the length of the pipe on the lines you just made. Draw about 3/4 the length of the pipe. This will be for your relief cuts.

Marking PVC Pipe For Caulk Gun Biomass Press

Using your hack saw carefully cut along the lines you just made.

Now take your hose clamps and screw them down so that they just fit sort of snugly but can be easily slid off the PVC pipe on the uncut side. These will be the retainers when you make the biomass briquette later on. The clamps will prevent the pipe from spreading outwards but still allow the water to squeeze out of the biomass material.

Now you can put it all together and make sure it fits nicely. The washers will be used later when we make the briquettes.

That’s it. Now you have a biomass briquette press. The next article will show you how to make your biomass briquettes.

PostHeaderIcon Using My Homemade Off Grid Camper Wood Boiler Heating System

Well, the trial run of my off grid camper heating system was a success. Using an antique wood stove with built in boiler and some cheap fittings and parts, I have a fully functional wood powered boiler heating system. It is a completely off grid construction using salvaged or inexpensive parts.

After assembling it about a week ago, I decided to add a few more parts to make it more reliable and safe. The water pump was the most expensive single part at $18 off the internet. It is a 12 volt water pump that claims over 26,000 hours continuous life span at only a third of an amp. The only other expense was the PEX tubing and all the fittings for the whole system. I used a salvaged house heating system expansion tank to prevent explosion from high water pressure in the pipes.

The tubes run to a car heater core, which has a 12 volt computer server fan attached to it to blow air throughout the camper.

Before, when I fired up the old wood stove, it took at least an hour for the stove to heat up. Then the camper started to get warm. Now, with the water boiler working, it only takes about ten minutes before nice, cozy warm air is blowing through the camper.

It is amazing to go into the bathroom of my 32 foot long trailer and feel hot air blowing from the duct on the floor, on the opposite end of the trailer from the fireplace.

Here is a photo of the expansion tank and water pump:

12 volt trailer water pump and heater expansion tank

If you click on the image, you can see a larger blow up view. In the foreground is a drain valve in case I want to empty the system. Later I will run a pipe through the floor from this fitting. On the far right of the photo you can see the rubber hoses connect to the copper tubing of the car heater core. The large red tank on the left is the heater expansion tank. You pump 12 psi of air into the tank on the bottom and it controls the internal water pressure of the whole system. This is necessary to prevent explosion from high pressures built up when the water gets hot and expands. Using a car heater core, the 12 psi is perfect for the whole system as well.

The water pump is a tiny little thing but it gets the job done. And with such low power consumption at only 300 mA, it can run for days off my battery bank with no trouble. The clear tubing was used so I could be sure water was flowing in the system while setting it up. And it looks cool. I have a 50/50 water and antifreeze mix running through the system. About two gallons of solution were needed to fill it up.

I do not have a pressure release valve yet for safety. The small clear tube will easily blow if pressure ever gets out of hand. Not a neat, clean solution, but it will work for now. Retail pressure release valves run at about 150 psi, which is way too high for my little system. My hoses will blow long before that would ever open up. I need to make something up one day.

Future expansion to the system will be a large hot water holding tank and a valve to lead water to it. When the wood stove boiler gets hot, then I can route water to a holding tank, which can be used for heating later, after the wood fire goes out.

I will also add either a second computer fan or a larger, more powerful fan. The water gets pretty hot and that means I have much more heat I can be pumping through the trailer.

PostHeaderIcon Added Homemade Wood Stove Water Boiler Heating System To The Off Grid Camper

Today I completed my fireplace water boiler heating system for the off grid camper. The wood stove heats up water, which is routed through PEX tubing to a car heater core. A homemade heater blower box pushes heat through the camper.

Below you can see my antique fireplace with the water fittings hooked up to it. It has a built in water boiler around the burning chamber. If you do not have a built in water heater, you can make one. By placing a closed container of water on top of the wood stove and attaching water fittings, you can get the same result. Or you can make a water boiler that hangs on the side of the fireplace. The form and shape of your particular wood stove will affect where you place the water boiler. Some people drill holes into the side of the fireplace itself and put an expensive commercial stainless steel water heat exchanger right inside the fireplace. You can also use copper coils around the chimney pipe to get the same results.

Heating my trailer home with a DIY wood stove boiler system

The wood stove alone heats up the camper ok, but the floor is normally quite cold. By using a car heater core as a radiator heat exchanger and the original duct work in the camper to push heat through, the floor can also be heated up even in the furthest room from the stove. The wood stove has a built in water boiler, which was connected using pipe fittings to bring the water away from the hot sides of the fireplace. Then PEX tubing was used to carry the hot water to the original heater box in the middle of the camper. The trailer came with no heater, so this area was empty. By building a new heater blower box around the car heater core, the heat can be conducted to the bedroom and bathroom floors where it is needed the most.

Below you can see the car heater core being assembled into a homemade heater blower box for my DIY camper heating system.

Auto Heater Core Used For A Trailer Radiator Heater

Below you can see the finished heater blower box. Plywood was used to make a box that perfectly fit the car heater core. Then the original duct work from the camper was attached on one side of the box and a computer fan on the other side to blow the heat throughout the camper.

DIY RV / Camper Heater Blower Box

Just for info, to keep this project fully off grid, only battery operated power tools were used in the construction of the homemade heater system. Here is a photo of my battery powered jig saw. (Of course, there is no other power available anyway out there).

Off grid battery powered tools used to upgrade off grid camper

PEX tubing was used to connect the fireplace water fittings to the car heater core. The PEX tubing was routed through the camper where the original heater duct brought heat from the propane heater in the middle of the camper to the living room. Since there is now a fireplace in the living room, that duct will no longer be needed. The PEX tubing passes underneath the dining room benches and table area, and into the original heater compartment of the camper.

Connecting DIY Trailer Home Water Heating System

The original RV heater was about 18 inches cubed and now there is a lot of space freed up for storage. The new heater blower unit goes underneath that where the wiring of the original propane heater went.

The new heater blower box was assembled into the small space underneath the original heater compartment and the original duct work that went to the bathroom and bedroom areas were attached to the new blower unit. Also there is a tube that blows heat into the fresh water storage tank to keep it from freezing. This will now allow me to have fresh water without the fear of freezing. Soon there will be an end to living out of one gallon jugs of water for washing and drinking.

In the image above you can see the storage space underneath the dining room bench seat. This is where the PEX tubing was attached to rubber car radiator hoses, which are connected to the car heater core, off to the right, inside the cabinet. In the foreground of the image you can see the duct that goes underneath the floor to the fresh water storage tank. This was later connected to the new blower box.

Time to get some more firewood cut and see how this new homemade water boiler system works in the off grid camper.

Check out our homepage for more do it yourself projects: The Do It Yourself World

PostHeaderIcon Passive Solar Window Heater For My Off Grid Camper

I recently made a passive solar window heater for my off grid camper. You can find the details here: Passive Solar Window Heater. It is simply a sheet of styrofoam with aluminum foil on one side, painted black. There are vent holes in the top and bottom to allow air to flow. The heater is kept away from the window about an inch to allow free air flow from top to bottom.

Heating camper with solar heater

On really sunny days this solar heater puts out so much heat that you can feel the hot air flowing out the top of the heater. On partly sunny days it still works though. Enough to keep the inside of the camper above freezing on very cold days. One day when I tested it, the temperature outside was 30 degrees F and inside it was 65. This morning it was 7 degrees F outside and in the camper it was about 30 degrees at 10 am. I have not been heating the camper for a few days while working on other projects in the house. I find these results impressive considering the fact that the only heat in the camper for days now has been the passive solar window heater and the temperatures are above freezing in the day. And also the fact that the living room and bathroom are both missing most of the insulation in the ceiling while I repair water damage.

Later in the day today it got up to about 30 degrees outside and 45 inside with no other heat source.

I will soon be installing another passive solar heater on the bathroom window, which faces south – south west. I will use an outdoor version which rests on the window sill and draws air from the interior of the camper, heats it up and then passes it back inside the camper through the window.


Another project I am working on is a passive solar heater under the floor of the camper. I have been putting skirting around the camper outside to help keep the heat inside during the cold nights. On the south side I am using some salvaged window frames and some old black roofing materials I found. I will post details when it is done.