Theft of confidential information has been increasing, especially when it is physically commutable as it is on paper. This makes it necessary for the individual to be cautious while under the ownership of sensitive information. Moreover, after usage it is crucial that the information thus withheld be disposed of, and destroyed.

Traditionally, shredders were the most suitable device for this task, but it has often been less resorted to primarily due to two reasons: (a) it’s high cost, and (2) high power consuming nature.

Furthermore, there could possibly be an easy breach of confidentiality when it comes to shredded paper. A standard shredder would shred a paper up to 40 – 50 strips more or less. This may seem like a lot, but it would not take a determined criminal to crack the code. The price is patience.

However, if you are new to the concept of a paper shredder, then let us summarize what it is in a simple manner.

But before we dig into the intricacies of these alternatives, let’s discuss why it is important to dispose of paper without a shredder.

How to Destroy Papers Without a Shredder

Why you should not use a shredder – A small perspective

As mentioned earlier, there are various reasons for which you should not use a shredder. Let’s dig into the details of what a paper shredder is exactly, and why you should not use it.

A paper shredder is defined as a mechanical device that is used to shred paper either into fine particles or thin strips. It is primarily used by government organizations and other corporations to destroy highly confidential information that might be legally sensitive.

Even though a paper shredder has been used for such purposes since the advancement of technology, here is why you should resort to other alternatives rather than shredding paper:

Power Consumption

Paper shredders are mostly used in offices and corporations and are therefore a go-to resort for most of the employees. Furthermore, paper shredders consume a lot of power while shredding paper in a single go. This multiplied by every employee of an organization leads to an exponential amount of power consumption. It is also bad for the environment.


Paper shredders, due to their relatively larger size and power consumption necessities, are also expensive. Not to say you will not find a paper shredder available at a comparatively lower price, but their functioning might be compromised in some way.

These are two primary reasons as to why you should try and look for alternatives as much as possible. However, there is another reason why paper shredders are precarious when it comes to containing sensitive information, and that is theft.

Theft of identity, or exposure of sensitive information is becoming more and more common. It is necessary to be careful with your documents, and even if you do shred them they still have a chance of being found. This makes safer alternatives mandatory.

Read: What Can I Do With Christmas Tissue Papers this Christmas?

5 Methods to Destroy Your Confidential Documents

In order to help you with the same, we have come up with various methods that are simple and cost-efficient in their execution. Moreover, through these methods, you will not have to worry about a criminal getting their hands on it.

Thus, below you will find the top 5 ways that will help you get rid of your confidential documents easily. You will also be thoroughly explained the steps through which you can achieve it. So, here goes:

1. Burning

Yes, burning the confidential documents is the most compatible and reliable way to go about it. For this, you will require a fire pit, or any other way through which you can spark a fire. A fireplace, or even a candle with a metal bin kept beside it to dispose it off, will work.

Although, ensure that you shred the paper into pieces using your hand in order for it to annihilate altogether and easily. Otherwise, there might be some remains that could be used for derogatory and notorious purposes.

fire to destroy papers - fire to destroy papers


(a) Using a Fire Pit

Take the shredded pieces of paper and toss them into the fire pit, preferably little at a time in order to avoid them flying away mostly intact. The shreds will rupture and shrink, and then turn into ash-like substance.

(b) Using a candle and a metal bin

On the other hand, if you are using a candle, then avoid shredding the paper into bits and pieces as the paper will catch on fire and flame up. For this method, take the entire sheet of paper and hold it towards the flame, tilting it a little. Do this such that the edge of the paper is on the flame. Paper is highly flammable and will catch on fire easily. Gently drop it in the metal bin and wait till it is entirely burnt.

Caution: Ensure to use a metal bin (not plastic or other flammable material) as it might get burnt or catch on fire.

2. Use Multi-cut Scissors

Multi-cut scissors are easily available online, or at a stationery store, or even an office supply store. They work similar to a normal pair of scissors except for the fact that they have multiple crosscut blades attached to it. This in turn helps them mimic a paper shredder cut.

multi-cut scrissors - How to destroy paper without a shredder
Multi-Cut Scissor

In fact, they are manual which give you the benefit of shredding the paper as you want. They are also cost-efficient and durable. Furthermore, they are available in varieties, and you can take your pick. The starting price range for these types of scissors is $15.99.


Take the pair of multi-cut scissors in one hand, and the paper you would like to shred in the other. Use it the way you would use a normal pair of scissors to shred the sheet of paper into strips, or any other form you prefer. Ensure that you shred it into as small bits and pieces as possible for safety purposes.

3. Soaking Paper in Water

Yet another efficient way to dispose of paper without a shredder is by soaking it in water. This method is pretty effective and cost-efficient, but does require some amount of patience. However, post completion, you do not have to worry about the confidential information ever being revealed.

paper pulp - How to destroy paper without a shredder
Soak paper in water for 24 or more hours to destroy its composition and convert into pulp


Get a tub filled with water, enough to contain all the documents that you would like dissolved. For efficient dissolution of paper in water, do soak it for at least 24 hours. You can go as high as 3 days. Ensure that the entire stack is completely and properly soaked in water. After this, there are two ways through which you can proceed:

(a) Pulping

Upon completion of those 24 hours to 3 days, whichever you prefer, use your hand to shred the paper into bits and pieces. In order to speed up this process, some people also use bleach, although the process is entirely reliable without its use as well. The papier-mâché thus obtained can be used as compost.

(b) Using a whisk or a spoon

Using a whisk or a spoon, stir the solution vigorously till it disintegrates as per you please. Strain the remaining water. You can use this water to water the plants in your lawn (no, it is not harmful for the plants). The pulp, or papier-mâché thus obtained, can be used for multiple purposes.

Get your creative hats on! You can use it for arts and crafts if you are comfortable with it. It can also be used as fire logs or charcoal substitute. One can also use this as compost.

Read: Plotter Paper: An Ultimate Guide

4. Await The Local Shred Day

Most of the local businesses and legal corporations have a ‘shred day’ for its employees and local customers. Check with the company, bank or credit union if they have a particular day that serves this purpose. Most of the recycling companies also offer this process on certain days of the year. It is a cost-efficient process as most of such companies provide the service for free.

Therefore, if you are willing to wait a certain number of days before shredding your documents, then this is a really helpful option.


Ask your organization, bank or credit union if they have a ‘Local Shred Day’. They will most likely say yes. Ask them about the time period and other important information such as should you deliver the documents that you would like to shred. Await the day and give your documents away for shredding.

This is often a helpful and highly reliable option as just like you, hundreds or even thousands of other users give away documents that they would like shredded. Thus, it will be really difficult, say for a criminal to disintegrate the strips and find the ones needed amidst a magnanimous bundle of similar strips.

5. Shred Them Using Your Hand

If you do not want to invest your time in a third party device and would like to shred your paper manually, then shredding them by hand is the best way to go about.

However, this could be a lethargic process if you have stacks of confidential documents that need to be dissolved. Thus, it is recommended to use this method for when you have a lesser amount of paper shredding to do.


The process is pretty much self-explanatory. Get the document, preferably one sheet at a time, as it contains sensitive information, and you would not like to do a half-hearted job at that.

Start tearing it apart! Ensure that you tear those parts with sensitive information into as many smaller bits and pieces as possible. Furthermore, you can also dispose of the shredded pieces in different bins and recyclable cans for a foolproof shredding. Thus, if someone does get their hands on the shreds of paper, then the chances of them finding all the pieces of information are less likely.

An Environment Friendly Guide to Shred Paper – An Alternative

Yes, environmental concerns are arising due to the catastrophic outcomes of thoughtless cutting down of trees, tons of garbage being disposed into the oceans and what not! This makes it vital to keep in mind to have as many environment friendly approaches to shredding paper as possible. Thus, here are a few ways through which you can save paper and also get rid of that which is highly confidential and sensitive.

  • You can dispose of the pages of a document with extremely sensitive content. This way, you do not need to shred the entire document in all of its volume and strength.
  • Most of the confidential documents contain legal jargon that does not personally include you. For these types of documents, you can black out those parts containing your personal information, shred them or dissolve them if you like, and you can recycle the remaining paper.
  • Moreover, the most efficient and reliable way to go about this process is to go virtual and thus digital whenever you can. Most of the financial corporations such as banks have digital statements that you receive via email and such. And so, going online with it is the best and most recommended way to go about it. It not only saves you from the trouble of shredding, but is an environment friendly approach to reduce pollution and cause less damage to the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

What are paper shredders used for?

Paper shredders are used by various corporations including the government and other legal organizations to dissolve sensitive information that might have the potential to cause chaos and ruckus regarding a particular ordeal. Thus, paper shredders are used to shred papers containing sensitive information into thin strips such that no one else can access them.

Can paper shredders shred plastic?

Although paper shredders can shred plastic, it is highly recommended not to do so. The plastic strips may get stuck onto the blades and clog the device, thus rupturing it. Moreover, shredding plastic with paper will not benefit the recycling of shreds as unlike paper, plastic is non-biodegradable.

Can paper shredders be recycled?

Unfortunately, paper shredders are not recyclable but paper shreds are. You can give the paper shreds obtained from the shredder to a recyclable firm, or use other alternatives to use those shreds as compost, and even arts and crafts if the sensitive data has been ostracized.

How does a paper shredder work?

A paper shredder is a machine used to shred paper. It is automatic, and the only manual labor it requires is to place the sheets of paper on top of it as it shreds them into thin strips of paper through the fine blades attached to it.

What is paper shredder oil?

Paper shredder oil is used to lubricate the paper shredder. It is specifically designed to work with paper shredders and is comparatively lightweight, similar to the consistency of vegetable oil. However, other oils such as olive oil can be used as an alternative to ease the process of shredding. One can lubricate their paper shredder once every 6 months, more or less, to ease the process of shredding paper.

Can paper shredder blades be sharpened?

No, paper shredder blades aren’t usually sharpened but lubricated. For this purpose, there are paper shredder oils available either online or at a nearby paper store, as they are not that uncommon to use. This is done for efficient functioning of the shredder. However, you can also use olive oil as an alternative in case of an emergency.

When to oil paper shredders?

It is recommended to lubricate and oil your paper shredders every once in five to six months. This will help in better functioning and less wear and tear of the shredder.

Can a paper shredder shred a CD?

The blades of a paper shredder are really defined and sharp and are capable of shredding a CD. However, it is recommended not to do that as bits and pieces of the CD might get stuck between the blades, thus tampering with its efficient functioning. In fact, if there is a larger chunk of CD stuck to the shredder, then the shredder might stop working altogether. Most of the time, lubricating the shredder also might not work. Therefore, be careful of what you shred using your paper shredder.
If you would like to shred a CD, then there are CD shredders easily available online with utmost proficiency and ease of use. You can use that as an alternative.

Read: Orange Tissue Paper — Craft Decor Ideas and Mix-n-Match Art Fun Project

How to Destroy Papers Without a Shredder


Be it going digital or shredding through other environment friendly methods, the likelihood of the sensitive content that you seek to conceal being revealed is highly unlikely. Although, preferably go green and use as less paper as possible.

You can also visit Wikihow to learn how to destroy sensitive documents.


Avni Deopura

Content Writer

An SEO Expert, a Prolific Content Writer, and a dreamer currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in Master of Science in Psychology from St. Joseph’s College of Arts and Science. She is working as a Content Producer and Social Media Analyst.

End of — “How to Destroy Papers Without a Shredder?”

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