Can You Burn Rotten Wood?

A lot of times when you are searching for firewood, you will come across some which are rotten. This creates a very confusing situation, should you add them to the fireplace or throw them back into the wild. Let’s take a look at what should you do with rotten or fungal-ridden firewood.

Rotten firewood can be burnt but is not the ideal choice as it can either contain moisture or not have enough healthy wood inside it to act as fuel. Rotten firewood won’t be able to generate high amounts of heat and will not be able to burn for long. Extremely rotten wood can also end up ruining your existing fire.

burning rotten wood

Can You Burn Rotten Wood?

Rotten wood in most cases can be used for fires but the only caveat is that it is not ideal to do so. Rotten wood can be harder to burn due to the extra moisture content and it will also not burn as hot.

But sometimes when the firewood has been rotten way too much, adding them to the fire will have the opposite effect because of too much moisture build-up. On top of this, it could also contain allergens which could cause irritation to sensitive people.

What to Do with Rotten Wood at A Campfire?

If you have found rotten wood and there is still some time before you need to use it, then you can let the firewood dry up a little to improve its burnability. On the other hand, if you need to use the firewood immediately, you can still use the rotten wood but be careful about adding too many rotten logs into the fire at the same time as they can extinguish the fire.  

Is Burning Rotten Wood Harmful to Your Health?

Although burning firewood which is rotten is nowhere as harmful to your health as burning painted or treated wood, it can still cause harm to people who have asthma or allergies to pollen, mildew, fungus, etc. Some rotten firewood can release a horrible odor along with fungus, mildew, mold, and bacteria.

Burning rotten firewood inside in a closed space is even more harmful as these fungus and mildew particles can get trapped indoors. Burning rotten wood can also cause headaches or stuffy nose.

How Does Rotten Wood Burn?

It is important to understand what rotten wood actually entails, it simply means that some wood material has been decomposed away and that there is less ‘firewood’ to be used as fuel. With this, the firewood also becomes less dense.

Rotten firewood also becomes moist or wet over time. All of these factors together make the firewood burn for a lesser time, less hot, and harder to catch fire.

How to Tell If A Firewood Is Rotten?

It can be quite tricky for someone to tell whether firewood has been rotten or not, especially if they don’t know what signs to look for.

Rotten firewood is usually softer and spongier compared to healthy wood. It can also be easier to cut through or penetrate into. In case there is some fungus on the wood, look for light green, dark green, or black mold. Some areas can also appear darker than others, these areas can be rotten as well.

How to Stop Firewood from Rotting?

If you already have a bunch of rotten firewood, then these tips wouldn’t be as helpful but you can still use these steps to prevent any other firewood from being rotten.

One thing you need to make sure is that your firewood is receiving enough oxygen or ventilation and that it is protected from moisture, rain, snow, or frost. Warmth or sunlight will also help your firewood season better and it will give it protection from rot.

Also, stack your firewood above the ground so that the moisture and pests from the soil don’t attack them. Stack the firewood in a criss-cross pattern to increase the airflow

Additional reading: How long to season firewood

Is It Safe to Burn Rotten Wood Inside?

Burning rotten wood should not be much of a problem as long as there is no mold or fungus on it. If you have any allergies then it is better not to bring the rotten wood indoors nor burn it.

Can You Burn Wood with Fungus?

Yes, you can, but it is not recommended that you do so. In some cases, the burning fungus can release spores and other fumes which might cause respiratory issues.

What to Do with Fungal Firewood?

If the firewood has too much fungus on it, it is better to just get rid of it. Using it as mulch can have a negative effect if the fungus ends up affecting the nearby trees.


Rotten wood can be burnt but should only be your last choice. It does not produce a lot of heat and will not burn long. It can also contain moisture and is not likely to catch fire very easily. Overly rotten wood might also harm the fire due to excessive moisture content and lack of fuel stored inside the remaining material.

Recommended reading:

Scroll to Top