These wood bricks made in Summerland will keep the smoke out of your eyes | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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These wood bricks made in Summerland will keep the smoke out of your eyes

Wood bricks from Okanagan Forest Products
Image Credit: Submitted/Okanagan Forest Products
January 18, 2021 - 6:00 AM

Most Canadians are familiar with the joys of sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows and creating family memories.

They’re also equally familiar with the reality that the smoke from that campfire invariably gets in their eyes, noses and throats.

Summerland’s Okanagan Forest Products is changing all that with its compressed wood fire bricks.

“If you’re camping, you don’t have smoke and you don’t have the sparks flying,” owner Tony Sheremeta told iNFOnews.ca. “I’ve done it myself. I’ve had the grandkids and had back yard fires doing hot dogs or marshmallows. It’s very safe because it’s clean.”

The bricks are made of 100 per cent compressed wood with no glues or binders involved.

While they’re better for the eyes and lungs, they’re also good for the environment, especially given where they come from.

READ MORE: The burning question: What pollution and health threats are lurking in wood stoves?

Sheremeta started Okanagan Forest Products five years ago by collecting wood shavings from sawmills, filtering the dust out of them and selling bags of the cleaned shavings as bedding for animals.

That part of the business went so well that he’s now selling to customers as far away as Texas.

“It always amazes me what the demand for shaving is,” Sheremeta said. “They like our product. They like the white, bright, dry product.”

But, sifting the dust out of wood shavings – which are a waste product themselves – created a waste of its own, essentially fine sawdust.

That led to the idea of compressing that dust into bricks.

“Basically, we’re taking a waste product from the mills, making a product, then taking the waste from the waste and putting it into our bricks,” he said.

When burned, the bricks themselves generate very little smoke or ash, but nice, pleasing flames that are well suited for campfires as well as wood stoves and fireplaces, Sheremeta said.

The bricks are generally used in wood stoves.
The bricks are generally used in wood stoves.
Image Credit: Submitted/Okanagan Forest Products

Initially the bricks were round briquettes but, in August, he brought in new equipment that makes rectangular bricks.

Mostly he sells by the pallet for people to burn in wood stoves but he wants to expand more into the campfire market.

He’s hoping to get the bricks approved to use even during campfire bans since they don’t shoot off sparks that are so potentially dangerous.

While he started in the wood shaving businesses, the bricks are becoming the bigger part of his income and he’s hard pressed, at times, to keep up with demand.

Plus, what was once a free waste product from mills has now become a saleable byproduct, especially with the closure of mills in places like Merritt and Kelowna that has upped the demand for the shavings.

They’re also used to make pellets for stoves so the competition for the raw shavings has increased, driving prices higher.

The bricks also seem to be far more efficient that burning logs. While he doesn’t have scientific data, his customers tell him that a pallet of his bricks last as long as a cord of firewood that takes up twice the space.

Dry logs are also becoming harder to come by and more expensive. At $185 for a pallet, the wood bricks compare favourably to the $250 to $300 being charged for a cord of firewood.

The bricks are available at Penticton Feedway and Growers Supply but most people pick them up at the plant.

Sheremeta suggests customers phone first (250-486-1895) because he doesn’t always have them in stock. They also need a large enough vehicle since pallets weigh 1,500 to 1,700 pounds.

His web site is here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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