If you’ve stacked you last cord of hardwood in advance of winter, you might want to take a look at an alternative fuel. One type of product now available is made of compressed sawdust and wood shavings that can be burned in a standard fireplace, wood stove or wood-fired furnace. The blocks are about the size of a standard building brick and are made and marketed under several different names in the U.S.Unlike wood pellets, these sawdust block products do not require a specially designed stove, but can be burned in a standard fireplace, woodstove or wood burning furnace. 

We spoke with Larry Goddard, of Big Fish Fence, who manufactures and sells his brand, BTU Bricks, from his facility in Sanford, Me. Goddard is also a dealer for Katahdin Cedar Fence products.

BTU Bricks are a great alternative fuel that offers several environmental advantages. When compared to hardwood, these high-density blocks burn steadily and emit half the particulates of good cordwood. Less smoke means a cleaner burn and less ash to clean up. The bricks are made of 100 percent wood product. They take their form through compression of about 150,000 pounds of pressure. The sawdust is bound together in the compression process by a natural tree by-product called lignin.

“These kinds of alternative fuels are quite popular in Europe,” said Goddard. “It’s a sensible solution for fuel.” The BTU Bricks come packed in 4x4x3 pallets that are the heating equivalent of a cord of wood. The individual bricks are packed in brown kraft paper bags in groups of nine, then 108 packages are stacked onto a pallet for easy transport and storage. The paper packaging can be used as a fire starter or burned along with the BTU Bricks. “We have employed special needs workers for the packaging process and it’s been a great way to connect with our community,” Goddard added.