How can I reuse or recycle mixed/MDF sawdust?

We’ve had an email from Paul:

We’ve got an extraction system at our joinery shop which produces big bags of sawdust but we use a lot of MDF and other particle boards so it can’t be used for animal bedding. Do you know how they could be recycled?

We’ve covered wood shavings recycling before but the obvious answer there was animal bedding – lots of people want rid of them and lots of people want it! The MDF dust is a bit of a stick in the wheels though – as Paul says, there are issues using MDF dust in animal bedding — the dust is so fine it can easily be kicked up and lead to respiratory problems.

So what else can be done with it? I did wonder whether it could be pressed into wooden pellets for biomass boilers but apparently the glues/chemicals used in particle board construction may be problematic – an undesirable contaminant. Any other ideas?

(Photo by Vaderluck)

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8 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle mixed/MDF sawdust?”

  1. This is a tough one…
    My best idea is to use it in a mixed media painting/drawing. Maybe mix it into paint for texture. People in my Drawing Three (Alternative Drawing) class used everything from pennies to dyed ice cubes and dirt or a wood burner. – this alternative drawing project could be used with kids….

    Good luck!

  2. Jim says:

    Maybe you can use it as a fire starter? I have no idea if that would even work! I like the idea of painting with it though…

  3. If you have large quantities of it, could it not be sold back to the particle board manufacturers for inclusion in future batches of their product?
    Given the fine particle nature, would it be any good for making art and craft papers if mixed with waste paper?

  4. The best solution for MDF waste is to use it as a boiler fuel. The fibers in MDF are too short to be used in particleboard manufacturing. It would weaken the particleboard preventing screws from gripping.

  5. Thilo says:

    Go on youtube and type in sawdust heater, I tried it, two
    5 gallon drums, yes 5 gallon, not 55 gallon burnt for for
    Over 8 hours and put out massive heat, if I would have compressed it more I bet I would have gotten 10+ hours out of it.

  6. Jimberry says:

    One thing you may do is to use some of that part along with adhesives for making fillers for the wood crevices or the natural holes and rest if you have like tons can be sold to the poultry farm owners as they would use it for keeping there hens floor warm.

  7. vicki vance says:

    I am saving sawdust ( similar in nature to the texture in the above photo) that was made from sawing firewood (oak, fir) and am considering mixing it with candle wax & compressing them together into fire starter blocks for camping or whatever.

  8. Reading the comments above and uses from children mixing it with paint to having it used with poultry – I am not sure if your contributors realize that MDF is full of highly toxic formaldehyde? This poison is a respiratory irritant and adversely affects the nervous system. It is also suspected of causing cancer. Handle with care.

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