How to Make Fireproof Paper

Two Methods:Coating Paper With WaxCoating Paper With Chemicals

It is very difficult to make paper completely fireproof, but you can make if flame-retardant. This means that brief or accidental exposure to flame will not make the paper catch fire. The most common way of treating paper and cloth to be flame retardant is with wax. You have probably seen paper products like cups and paper lantern bags, and clothing like coats and shoelaces with a wax coating. There are other chemical products and solutions you can treat the paper with to achieve a similar effect even without industrial chemical processing facilities, however.

Method 1
Coating Paper With Wax

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    Gather Your Materials. It is best to start with paper that you have already written on, because normal writing implements do not always write easily on wax paper. You will also need wax that you can melt down, and some basic tools to treat the paper with wax.
    • Wax, or candles
    • Parchment paper
    • Scissors
    • A sealable sandwich bag
    • Hammer or mallet
    • Iron and ironing board
    • Cloth towel and paper towels[1]
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    Separate the candle wick from the wax. If you are starting out with candles rather than just wax, you need to get the wick out. Use a hammer, knife, and/or other household implements to chip into the wax and extract the wick. It is ok, and even preferable, if you have to split the wax into a lot of small pieces, since you will eventually melt them. Having more small pieces creates more surface area, making the melting process faster.
    • You don’t need a large amount of wax. Start with a tea light or votive, or that leftover half of a taper candle on the kitchen table.
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    Ground the wax into finer pieces. Put the wax in the plastic bag and seal it. Tap it gently with the hammer to break it into smaller pieces. Placing it in the bag will ensure that pieces of wax don’t go flying all over the room!
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    Melt the wax using the parchment paper. Put the towel on the ironing board. Then, place the pieces of wax on one half of the parchment paper. Fold the paper once so that the wax is encased inside like a sandwich, and place it on the towel. Use the iron to melt the wax.
    • Make sure you keep the iron moving. Just as with clothing, leaving it on one spot too long will burn or damage whatever is under it. Parchment paper is flame resistant, but not completely inflammable.
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    Open the parchment paper to see if you have enough. The wax should have enough surface area to cover your paper. If it doesn’t, add more wax, close the paper, and iron it again. Repeat this until you have enough wax.[2]
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    Apply the wax to your paper. Place the paper you want to make flame resistant on the wax. Fold the parchment paper back again and iron for a few seconds. The heat will help the hot wax bond to the paper. Add more wax if necessary.
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    Make the wax smooth. You want the paper to be as smooth and flat as possible – unless you are adding texture for an arts and crafts project. Feel the wax to see if it is smooth. If not, place it back in the parchment paper sandwich and use the iron to press the wax flatter and outwards off the paper. It should be easy to guide the wax toward the edges of the paper, so make sure you are not hovering for too long over one area.
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    Place between paper towels to cool. You are done with one side now. Put the newly wax-coated paper between two pieces of paper towel to help it dry in a clean location. You don’t want particles from your kitchen table or elsewhere to become a permanent feature of your flame resistant paper.
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    Flip and repeat. You will want both sides of your paper to be coated with wax. It will be much more flame retardant if no dry paper is exposed. After you are happy with the coat on one side, repeat the process on the opposite side.

Method 2
Coating Paper With Chemicals

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    Look for flame retardant chemicals. The easiest and cheapest way to chemically coat your paper with flame retardants is buying it rather than making it. There are sprays and chemicals available at home improvement stores and on the internet. Follow the directions on the packaging for coating paper.
    • Avoid products that have noxious or toxic chemicals. Since you will likely be keeping this paper in your home, confining chemicals in your living area may be hazardous to your health. Do not buy products labeled ‘poison,’ ‘warning,’ or ‘danger.’[3]
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    Get boric acid powder and borax. If you want to make your own flame resistant coating, you can do it with a couple chemicals. You can find boric acid powder in many insecticides and repellents. Borax is available by itself, as it is often used as a ‘detergent booster.’[4]
    • You will also need a gallon bucket and some warm water to mix the compound. Finally, get together a towel to test your solution and a clean paintbrush (or spray bottle) to apply the solution.
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    Mix the solution in the bucket. Put 50 grams of boric acid powder and 60 grams of borax into a half gallon of hot water. Use a stirring implement like a wooden spoon or stick to dissolve the powders into the water. It is advisable to use an implement you can immediately throw away. You certainly shouldn’t use an implement you cook with.[5]
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    Test the solution. Put the rag or cloth into the bucket and soak it thoroughly. Hang it outside to dry and wait until it is completely dry. When it is dry, hold a flame under one of the corners. The cloth should turn black, but if it burns, you did not add enough powder. Play with the amounts of each chemical you added to get a combination that works.
    • Use a fresh cloth every time you tweak the measurements.
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    Apply your solution to the paper. You will need to soak the paper thoroughly with the solution to make it flame resistant. Use the paint brush, spray bottle, or other implement (use your imagination) to make sure you cover every inch of the paper with plenty of solution.
    • You can even try soaking the paper in the solution. Put it in a tray and submerge the paper, as with developing and printing photographs.


  • Always use goggles and rubber or latex gloves when handling chemicals.
  • Read all safety precautions on the labels of the chemicals you buy.
  • Do this project at your own risk. Handling chemicals and open flames requires a few safety measures.

Article Info

Categories: Fire Emergencies | Making and Transforming Paper