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This skull is on fire: Powell man creates skull briquettes from paper

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jun 12, 2024

POWELL, WYOMING — It's camping season and one Powell, Wyoming, man has the perfect conversation and fire starter for the start of summer. Eric Larsen makes skull briquettes made entirely from paper and wax.

Larsen has been working with his hands since he was a kid growing up in Billings. His mom was an art teacher at Castle Rock Middle School.

“You know, my mom always told us, she said you got to have a creative outlet. You know, when you get bored, try to be creative,” Larsen said at his home in Powell Tuesday.

Eric Larsen holds a couple of his older paper skulls.

He's been in construction, worked as a cabinet maker, and taken photographs as a hobby. He retired from his previous job as a custodian in Powell Public Schools last year.

“I ended up with a lot of excess paper, and I thought there’s got to be a use for this,” Larsen said.

It was six years ago when Larsen started researching paper briquettes.

“I started making these, and this is just compacted paper and sawdust,” said Larsen as he held a paper briquette shaped like a cube.

Eric Larsen holds one of his first paper briquettes.

Inspiration struck Larsen when he placed the briquette on a campfire.

“I thought, oh, wouldn’t that be great if I could put a skull in there or something like that,” Larsen added.

It's taken him years to perfect the process.

"The production is slow. I can't really produce a lot 'cuz it takes a long time" said Larsen.

It takes over two weeks to create a paper skull. Larsen soaks the paper in water for days before blending it all up.

Eric puts the paper mixture in to a mold of a skull.

“'Till I get to something like this, which is like oatmeal,” Larsen said.

He compacts the mixture into a skull mold and then places it in an old washing machine that he's dubbed as his "centrifuge". The mixture in the mold then spins and drains.

“Then I have to drill holes in them and then dunk them in the wax, and at that point, I’m done,” Larsen said.

A paper skull as it burns in a campfire.

Sold at $20 a skull, Larsen said they'll burn for over two hours. He said it's best to make sure they stay upright and placed on an already hot surface, like a bed of coals.

“I’m kind of a MacGyver so I worked my way through it. Cuz it’s cool," joked Larsen.

You can purchase a paper skull at Larsen's Etsy shop or on Facebook. You can also email him at