How to Burn Paper So That It Looks Burnt

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Things You'll Need

  • Sheet of 24 lb. copy paper

  • Permanent marker

  • Baking sheet

  • Black coffee or strong tea

  • Instant coffee crystals

  • Paper towel

  • Oven

  • Match or lighter

  • Candle and holder

  • Sink

Burn the edges of paper to make it look older.

Making paper look old or burnt is a flexible process, but it does not need to be a difficult one. You can draw a treasure map and have children follow it. You could antique a keepsake poem and make it suitable for framing. You might want to add a bit of flare to a school project. Regardless of the reason, with a few materials and a bit of care you can distress paper to make it look much older than it actually is.


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Step 1

Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature possible, 150 or 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2

Write or draw whatever you want on your paper. Permanent marker is more durable and less likely to smear than pen or pencil.


Step 3

Crumple your paper into a ball.

Step 4

Spread your paper as flat as you can and lay it on the baking sheet.

Step 5

Pour about 1/4 cup of hot coffee or tea over your paper. Use paper towel to spread the coffee around on the paper.


Step 6

Sprinkle instant coffee crystals over your paper and let it sit for about five minutes.

Step 7

Blot up as much of the coffee as you can with a paper towel. Dab at the coffee rather than trying to wipe it up.


Step 8

Put your tray in the oven and cook it for about five minutes. Watch it carefully and remove as soon as the paper is dry and the edges start to curl up.

Step 9

Light your candle and place it in the sink so that you have easy access to water if you need it.


Step 10

Hold your paper and slide it back and forth through the candle flame without stopping. This should allow you to lightly singe the edges without burning your entire paper. Slide the center of your paper through the flame to burn a hole in the middle of your project.


Dip a cotton swab in water and draw a line an inch or so from the edge of your paper before you burn it. This can prevent the candle from burning too far into your paper.

Work slowly and carefully as you burn your paper. Burn small sections at a time and do not keep the paper in the flame for too long.

To flatten your paper use an iron set on low or medium heat. Do not use the steam setting.


Do not allow children to do this project unsupervised as the hot coffee and candles could burn them.


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