How to Make Charcoal Paper

by Karren Doll Tolliver

Homemade paper charcoal briquets can be used in backyard grills.

Grilling Meat image by Cherry-Merry from

Items you will need

  • Washtub
  • Water
  • Old newspaper

Commercial charcoal for grilling food is expensive and can be harmful to the environment. However, industrious do-it-yourselfers can make their own "charcoal" from newspaper. This reduces the amount of newspaper refuse as well as the amount of commercial charcoal consumed. In addition, no lighter fluid is needed with the homemade charcoal paper. Therefore, petroleum-based products are also conserved. Making your own charcoal takes only water and a washtub. The time spent forming the charcoal paper briquets is negligible, although they need to dry for a couple of days in the sun.

Step 1

Tear the old newspaper into pieces about the size of your hand or smaller.

Step 2

Place all the torn newspaper pieces in the washtub. Cover with water and let sit for at least one hour. The newspaper will be ready when it is thoroughly saturated with water and is mushy to the touch.

Step 3

Grab a large handful of the mushy newspaper. Form it into a ball about the size of a golf ball or ping pong ball, squeezing out as much water as you can. Repeat until all the mushy newspaper is in ball form. Discard the water.

Step 4

Place the wet newspaper balls in the sun for at least two days. Do not let them get rained on. They must be completely dry and brittle. At this point they are ready for use in the same manner as charcoal briquets.


  • Moister climates may require longer drying times. Direct sunlight is best for ultimate drying.

    You will use twice as many of these paper charcoal briquets as regular charcoal for grilling.

    You do not need lighter fluid for this type of charcoal briquet.


  • Do not use the glossy advertising paper for this project. The paper has a different composition than newspaper, and the inks used on this type of paper may be toxic. You do not want the fumes from burning this type of paper or ink to come into contact with your food.

Photo Credits

About the Author

Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.