BioBricks: What They Are and Where to Find Them
BioBricks are the latest eco-
friendly home heating
alternative to firewood or
Each 2 pound brick is made
from 100% compressed
The extreme density of
compressed sawdust yields
near complete combustion,
longer burning times than cord
wood, and only 1% ash
BioBricks are equally beneficial to the environment by producing less carbon monoxide
and half the particulates of seasoned hardwood.
In James Houston's "The Development of a Firelog With Improved Air Emissions" he
states: "Replacing normal firewood with [densified wood] firelogs can be an effective
means of reducing pollutant emissions from existing fireplaces...Pressed wood firelogs
offer the potential to lower woodstove and fireplace emissions."
Biobrick Heat Content vs Firewood
For comparison purposes I'll use the firewood BTU heat values from the table of
Firewood Heat and Weight Values compiled by the California Energy Commission. The
table lists the cord weight and BTU values for 39 species of firewood at 12% moisture
However, a typical cord of firewood rarely consists of only one species making it
difficult to determine its BTU value. For the sake of simplicity I'll compare the heat value
of BioBricks to Ash which has a BTU value averaging halfway between Live Oak
(highest) and Western Red Cedar (lowest).
The heat value for a cord of 12% moisture Ash is 25 million BTU's at an average weight
of 3,000 pounds. This works out to 8,333 Btu's per pound.
The manufacturer's heat estimate for a single two pound BioBrick is 17,000 Btu's, or
8,500 Btu's per pound – almost identical to Ash.
The stackable nature of bricks makes the most of scarce storage space. One pallet of
BioBricks (4'x4'x3') takes up 60% less space than a cord of wood (4'x4'x8') and
eliminates the mess and hassle associated with handling logs.
BioBricks are sold by the bag or
pallet. The weight and price of a bag
or pallet varies from dealer to dealer.
This shouldn't be cause for concern
cost-wise if you're buying the
occasional bag for your fireplace or
chiminea, but if you're buying by the
pallet for your wood stove, question
#1 to the dealer should be: "How
much does your pallet of BioBricks
Although the standard weight for a pallet of BioBricks is 1,900 lbs and costs around
$300, I have also seen pallets weighing far less sold at the same price.
This season - 2012/13 - prices for a pallet of BioBricks are ranging between $279
(cash price) and $349. That's quite a spread. Considering the $70 difference per
pallet, and the wide availability of BioBricks, it might be worth your while to drive an
extra 50 miles out of your way - even at today's high gas prices.
Currently, BioBricks are available in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New
Hampshire, New Jersey and New York from the following dealers.
BioBricks and wood pellets are essentially the same product and compete for the
same raw material: sawdust. The same market forces that affect the price of wood
pellets will similarly affect the price of BioBricks. The availability of wood for sawdust,
more than any other factor will determine the selling price.