I need to safely dispose of about 30 federal folders. That means 95% of the documents will be shredded and the rest stored. I bought a small shredder for private people (professional shredders are too expensive) and now I see that the effort for shredding is at least one hour per federal folder.

In security recommendations and documents, the shredder is often recommended for sensitive documents. This works very well if there are few documents. Now I am reaching my limits with the amount.

For me, the effort is too great to shred these 30 federal folders cleanly. Are there alternatives that are just as secure, but with less effort associated.

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    There might be services around you were you can bring the data to be shreddered and watch them shredder these with professional equipement. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 4:46
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    If its paper then a barrel full of water for a period of time works quite well as the paper joins together - As this is not an official method there is a problem with compliance
    – Ross
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 7:24
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    @Ross I do not have to comply with any compliance regulations as these are private documents. Please more about your workaround, sounds very interesting
    – Sybil
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 7:27
  • Would be interesting to ask this question at Chemistry SE. Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 19:46

1 Answer 1


If you have a large firepit or somewhere you can build a bonfire (and there's no burn ban in effect), burning is very effective for destroying paper You'll want some other fuel besides paper, as paper will burn too quickly and then other sheets might not catch so you'd constantly be re-lighting it; wood or charcoal work fine. I don't know if you count this as "cleanly" destroying them, though. It will generate a large amount of ash (including plenty that will go up in the smoke) but none of it will be readable unless you smother the flame on some documents before they finish burning.

Professional shredding as a service, as mentioned in a comment, may be available in your area.

You also might be able to rent a professional shredder (and feed the documents into it quickly yourself) for much, much cheaper than buying one.

  • I live in europe and most people only have a balcony and can't make a 🔥 . The variant with the pot of water (from comment) is more realistic
    – Sybil
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 8:27
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    Oh even in the USA for most people this would require at least a little bit of travel, most people don't have a large firepit on their property. But get outside of urban areas and there usually aren't prohibitions on campfires or even bonfires provided they're contained, and many parks, campgrounds, beaches, and so forth will have large firepits.
    – CBHacking
    Commented Sep 5, 2022 at 8:33

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