We continue to develop resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic. See COVID-19 initiatives on Appropedia for more information.

Paper Making

From Appropedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Some rough brown paper

It goes without saying that paper has many uses and can be created with little effort. It's a useful material that can often be made using recycled or damaged materials, and can be made with materials found in almost any non-desert environment.

This short tutorial is mostly aimed at recycling or creating one's own paper from scratch for whatever purpose you feel like. Communication often is expedited by posting fliers or having handouts available and this technique may with some luck expedite grassroots organization in areas with little resources.



Paper has it's origins in China sometime around 300 BCE to 104 BCE. They used planets like willow, bamboo, and hemp for pulp. In 751 CE paper making workers were captured by Arabs. By 1000 CE the Spanish had picked it up. They made their paper out of rags and old cloth. Demand for it rose and in 1719 a french mans' observation of wasps led to attempting to make paper from wood. This became the preferred method in Europe. In the 1800's factory production became more common place and the addition of glues and coatings to the paper making recipe occurred. [1]

Materials List[edit]

1. You'll need a source of pulp. Recycled paper or cardboard, sawdust, cotton rags, and bamboo are some options. You'll want pieces as small as possible, often the surplus scraps of fabric from clothing manufacture work well. Try not to use plywood or wood treated with arsenic as it may make you sick.

Try to avoid stickers, plastics, waxy bits, glues, or pitch in your pulp. They'll cause clumping.[2] [3]

2. A grinding implement, such as a mortar and pestle, any kind of grinder, or if working with recycled paper a blender. [2][3]

3. If you want to color or bleach the paper you'll want the dye of your choice and peroxide.[2][3]

4. You'll want a deep tray or pan and a fine mesh screen that's slightly larger than the tray. A section of old mosquito netting can work. If it doesn't the first time, loose weave fabric such as muslin can work as well.[2][3]

5. You'll want some absorbent cloth such as towels or felt that are the size of the netting or larger. And a large flat weight, rolling pin, or steam iron.[2][3]


Step 1: Acquire pulp. Grind it.[2][3]

Step 2: Throw it into a big pot under low heat. Too much heat will weaken the fibers and make your paper too soft and brittle. Stir frequently.[2][3]

Step 3: The fiber should rise to the top. Pick through it to remove clumps caused by wax, plastic, etc. Pouring it though a larger screen can help at this point but is unnecessary.[2][3]

Step 4: You can skip this step if you wish. Now that sticky sections are removed from your pulp you can add a dye or bleach to the mix, still under low heat. If you're shooting for white paper, try using peroxide.

Then rinse the pulp out a bit to remove excess peroxide and dye.[2][3]

Step 5: Take the tray, line the bottom with mesh, then pour in some of your pulp. Slowly add water until it resembles boiled oats. Or watery mud.[2][3]

Step 6: Pick out the lumps again. If you want stronger paper, stirring in some starch at this point in an option. Dried flowers may also be added at this point.[2][3]

Step 7: Lift the screen from the pan slowly. If there are many holes, add more pulp to the mixture and try again.[2][3]

Step 8: Lay it out on that piece of towel. Cover it over with another piece of cloth, apply weight, rolling pin, or iron.[2][3]

Step 9: Remove from screen gently. Let it dry for a bit, preferably in the sun. [2][3]

Ta-da! Paper achieved.


  1. G. Carboni. Making and Recycling Paper at Home.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Making Paper in 10 Easy Steps.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 Paper University. Making Paper by Hand.


  • G. Carboni. Making and Recycling Paper at Home. [[1]]
  • Making Paper in 10 Easy Steps. [[2]]
  • Paper University. Making Paper by Hand. [[3]] 2001.