WATERVILLE, Maine — It's firewood that burns green instead of burning greenhouse gases.
A Maine man believes he can use hemp stock, its stem, as firewood by burning it instead of burning wood.
Dylan Veilleux doesn’t think of himself as an entrepreneur, though. He says he’s simply a college student, with plans to graduate from Waterville’s Thomas College in the Spring.
But Veilleux didn’t wait until graduation to launch his latest invention.
"Since I was 15, I was creating products," said Veilleux.
His latest product?
The 22-year-old has created an environmentally friendly firewood and fire starter.
"Looks very similar to soap," said Veilleux. "Other people have said something similar to something that you would eat."
Hemp, sawdust, and paraffin wax with a hemp wick makes his hemp fire starter.
"All of these three products together allow it to be as tight as possible and burn for as long as possible," said Veilleux.
He said most of the fire starters on the market burn anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. His burn for nearly 30.
"I wanted to make a product that would help me, my family, and as many people that I can help, specifically in the community that I'm in," said Veilleux.
He got the idea to take leftover hemp stocks, pressed to give it its shape, and turn them into bio bricks that can be used to start fires, after taking a college level environmental science class and learning of the exploding hemp industry in Maine.
"Use them as a renewable fuel instead of wood," added Veilleux.
Tree Free Heat started selling the fire starters at the beginning of November online. Within a few weeks, Veilleux said he has already made sales.
"I brought it into the woods myself for a hike," said Nick Rimsa, Veilleux's friend and colleague at Bricks Coworking Space in downtown Waterville.
"I use it in the backyard for a fire pit," added RJ Anzelc, owner of Bricks.
Veilleux found guidance and success through the college’s business program and connections he has made with Anzelc and Rimsa through Bricks.
Getting started wasn't easy, though.
Veilleux worked on a hemp farm for 2 weeks last summer just to get a hold of the hemp stocks.
"The days were long and a lot of hard work was associated with that," added Veilleux.
He did it without complaint, he said, "because there's no Planet B."
The University of Maine is testing Veilleux's product's heat out-put potential and its ash content. He said his goal is to turn the product into an alternative bio-fuel.
Veilleux’s time in the spotlight doesn’t end here, either. He’s scheduled to make an appearance in a second interview to get the chance to pitch his special firewood on Greenlight Maine after the new year.