Reusing wood-based cat litter as heating fuel?

cat litterWe’ve covered wood-based cat litter before but we’ve had a rather unusual email from Simon and I thought it was worth returning to the topic:

I’m e-mailing from an independent animal sanctuary in Northern Ireland.

We have about 100 cats here all using wood chip litter and would probably skip at least 100 litres a week. Do you know a way of turning the used litter (poo-free!) into burning fuel, and would that be more environmentally friendly than oil? I’ve experimented trying to compact it into short pieces of sewage pipe, but the problem is keeping the litter in one block.

To give you an idea, we would spend about £2000 a quarter during the winter on heating kennels and catteries electrically.

I’d be grateful for any suggestions, even if it’s to say “For Christ’s sake, what are you thinking man?” as it feels like we could be using this used litter for producing heat.

I tempted to say “For Christ’s sake, what are you thinking man?” just for the humour but I can see where he’s going with this. I guess it would be particularly galling if you had a biomass boiler or stove for heating: throwing away all those wood chips only to buy different ones back for burning.

This is basically an appeal for help/information/tips anything that might get Simon started on his way or conversely warn him off the plan if it’s unsound.

Anyone know if this is viable? As Simon says, the litter is poo-free but I presume it’s been wee-ed on – would that cause any problems for burning?

Any suggestions on how to make logs stick together or make pellets?

I hear that biomass boilers/stoves are quite expensive to install – anyone had any experience with this? Anything special Simon needs to consider?

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14 Responses to “Reusing wood-based cat litter as heating fuel?”

  1. Oraxia says:

    Maybe stick it together in blocks with wax (like paraffin or soy, etc.) or some other reasonably safely flammable material? I think that’s more or less what they do with java logs, which are coffee grounds made into logs for burning.

    It might not smell so great when burned if the litter’s been really soiled, though…

  2. Marty says:

    I would think it would do pretty well in a wood pellet stove, like the ones here:

    The pellets they use are not unlike the pellet cat litter, as long as it was dry, it should work fine.

  3. Alan says:

    We use “Yesterday’s News” cat litter, which is pellets made from newspaper. It goes into our Swedish tile stove after a nice bed of hot coals has been made with wood, and the moisture content of the pee and poo is quickly driven off followed by a nice flame that reduces everything to a fine white ash. Saves the tipping fee at our local recycling center and saves wood as well.

  4. Lizzy says:

    This might be a completely rubbish idea – or i haven’t understood properly, but couldn’t you pack it into cardboard tubes (you can get small ones from wrapping paper, and i have seen bigger ones, but i’m not too sure where to find them – probably waste from a factory or somewhere where they need long rolls of stuff- you could research it a bit maybe) and then throw the whole lot in (fix something over the end -maybe newspaper) ?
    hope this helps

  5. Jane says:

    I’ve seen just the thing on Amazon – a log maker for approx £20 that can take sawdust, amongst other things.

  6. Doz says:

    I too have wood based cat litter which is Poo free. All I do is tip the sawdust into paper potato sacks or animal feed sacks (must be paper) size to suit you stove and chuck it on a hot base of glowing embers (Hunter Herald 8 wood burning stove) Et Voila, free heat. It glows for ages and when it glows its hot. I also pack the soiled sawdust into empty cardboard food boxes (jaffa cakes etc..) and chuck it on fire but either wera disposable gloves or wash hands straight after.

  7. Kitty says:

    I put my used wood pellet litter into paper bags and pop them in the wood burner, with other wood and it burns a treat, poo included. I’d rather burn it all than bin it. On a larger scale bags might work if you can get donations from people ie fast food bags?

  8. ellsbe says:

    Removing the poo is actually a bad idea – it would help the wood stick together. You can buy a briquette maker for £20 or a pellet machine for much more.
    You mix the wood and dung, add a little water unless its already soggy, mould it (bricks or pellets) then leave to dry on top of or in front of the fire. Once its dry it wont smell.

    This is gross but I recommend an old blender or food processor to mix it.

  9. We store the de-pooed pellets in a wheelie bin (2, in fact) and fill up the cardboard Felix/Whiskas boxes the pouches come in and burn as “bricks” that way.

  10. Roma Yanchinski says:

    I volunteer for a friend who has an animal sanctuary, including about a hundred cats. Litter disposal and heating is a big expense for her. However we’re both paperless these days and flyers don’t come to the farm. Neither do we generate lots of empty cereal boxes or paper towel rolls, at least not enough to package and keep up w mountains of litter. Making diy briquettes is a lot of work. She uses organic litters– walnut, grass, shredded beet pulp, and chicken feed. I’m wondering if we cld just pour flour/ water glue (papier mache glue) over the litter, break into chunks, and burn it that way in a wood stove (open fires not allowed in our township). If this worked I think she wld invest in some wood stoves. Feedback? Thanks.

  11. Stiofan MacGabhann says:

    I see comments that people have used wood based cat litter as fuel.
    A renowned supplier of boilers told me that the ammonium contained in the urine would quickly destroy the boiler.
    Anyone with long term experience by now?

  12. Ken says:

    I use hardwood pellet fuel as cat litter. It is 1/3 the price of the commercial brand pine cat litter pellets, yet essentially the same product. I have an expensive wood stove. (Jotul) with the whole catalytic converter and all. I’ve been burning my expended wood cat litter —poop and all—in this stove for a dozen years or so. There simply has not been a single problem or drawback to this practice. I just incorporate it into a regular wood fire. I either lay the disgusting stuff down before a new fire, or add it over the hot coals of a healthy fire that is already in progress. It burns with no odor and becomes ash like the rest of the wood. My wife is sensitive to odor, she wouldn’t let me do this if it smelled. It just simply goes up in flames is gone. It is the cleanest and most sanitary way to dispose of this litter. I have my flue cleaned once a year, it is always normal.

  13. Graham Musto says:

    We have been storing bagged used cat litter housed in secure large containers to prevent fly infestation for the last 13 years. We produce about 2 tonnes per year. One of the wood burners in our house has no grate. This is important so that the litter does not fall through. The fire is started with a small log and the litter piled up behind the burning log. Every so often a new small log is added and more litter piled behind it. After about 12 hours the large amount of ash makes the fire less efficient. We can burn about 3 x 30l bags per day with an enormous heat output. We buy our cat litter as horse bedding which is sold as weight rather than volume for cat litter. There is usually a small saving for this.

  14. Thanks for the great manual

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