Choosing firewood for your fireplace is one of the most important aspects of getting a fire started. But a lot of people also end up using other objects instead of the firewood which can end up harming your fireplace and even cause a fire and health hazard. Let’s take a look at which objects you can and cannot burn in the fireplace.
The only thing which you should burn in your fireplace is properly seasoned or kiln-dried firewood, you can also burn non ‘MB’ pallet wood and twigs or newspaper as firestarters or kindling. Any other substance including cardboards, painted, treated or stained wood, magazine covers, driftwood, fabric, charcoal, and fresh fruit peels should be avoided at all costs.
Which Objects Can You Burn?
As the main source of fuel, you should only go with seasoned or kiln-dried hardwood firewood. For kindling, you can use twigs, stems, and small pieces of firewood. As a firestarter, you can use old newspapers or regular paper.
Which Objects Can You Not Burn?
Coming to the list of things which you should stay away from, be careful about using any of these objects as a fuel source for your fires.
Treated, Painted, or Coated Wood
Treated, stained, or coated wood should never be burnt in your fireplace, they are usually covered by harmful chemicals which will be released as soon as they start burning. These chemicals can end up having serious effects on your short-term and long-term health. They will also produce smoke and particles which can end up harming your fireplace and home.
Stained wood also comes under the same category as above. Companies use harmful substances to treat their wood while staining them to make them durable. These chemicals make the burning process much more toxic.
A lot of people choose to burn their leftover cardboard which includes pizza boxes and packaging material. But doing so can be a very bad thing, although cardboard catches fire quickly because it is very dry and thin, they don’t create a lot of heat and they don’t produce heat for a long time.
A lot of times, cardboard is also treated with plastics and chemicals which can create a lot smoke and can also lead to uncontrolled fires.
Never ever use lighter fluid or charcoal starter fluid to start your indoor fires. These chemicals are meant to be used for specific things only and are not meant to be used for indoor fires. They can start uncontrolled fires and release a lot of harmful smoke and particles.
Magazines and Coloured Paper
Burning a newspaper as a firestarter is a good option, but you should never use painted or glossy paper which is usually used in magazines. Painted, printed or glossy paper gets treated with chemicals and plastics which are released when you start burning them.
Wet Firewood or Unseasoned firewood
Using properly seasoned firewood is very important when starting a fire. Choosing to burn moist or unseasoned firewood can not only lead to inefficient fires, but it can also take a lot more effort to get the fire started. Burning them will also release a lot more smoke which can even harm your fireplace.
Allergen Producing Brushwood
Burning some plants can be okay as long as they have been dried but some plants or brushwood have allergens within them which will get released as soon as they start burning. This can create a lot of problems for people with allergies.
While some evergreen trees are fine to burn, most of them contain resin which helps the wood catch fire quickly. While this sounds good, this firewood will not only burn quickly but will also burn out as quickly which makes them very inefficient. Some evergreen firewood species that contain a lot of resing include pine and fir.
Very often, wood pallets are treated with chemicals such as Methyl Bromide, and they are marked with ‘MB’, you should never burn them as the chemicals will release harmful smoke and fumes.
On the other hand, you can often give away or sell your leftover wood pallets to construction companies, packaging companies, and DIY guys.
Driftwood often seems like the perfect option for using as firewood but only can they be full of moisture, they can also be full of sea salt especially if they have been floating around in the ocean.
Not only this, driftwood is not suitable firewood as it can be rotten or even previously treated or painted if they were part of some packaging or ship materials. Burning these will not only be difficult, but they can also release a lot of harmful chemicals.
Burning trash to get rid of it is a very bad idea. A lot of the trash consists of rotting organic substances and plastics. None of these will burn as efficiently and easily while also releasing a lot of smoke and harmful gases.
A lot of people tend to burn their leftover leaves in the yard. It can create a lot of smoke while burning outside and should never be used inside, especially if the leaves are still green and moist.
Even dried leaves will not burn for a long time and will extinguish quite quickly. Dry leaves can also create a lot of heat quickly, but at the same time, the embers can get carried away by the wind, creating a fire hazard.
Fresh Fruit Peels
A lot of people throw fresh fruit peels into their fire to create an aroma but it can have the opposite effect.
Fruit peels are full of moisture which can create a lot of smoke and creosote in the fire. The better alternative is to first heat or bake the peels in the oven first and then throw them in the fire, you will still get the scent.
You should never throw batteries into the fireplace as they are full of chemicals that can make the batteries explode once heated. This will not only be dangerous but the chemicals which are released upon explosion can be even more dangerous.
You should never throw old clothes into a fire. They will create a very bad smell as well as a ton of smoke which can coat the inside of the chimney with creosote.
Charcoal should only be used with fireplaces that can support coal. Using them in wood-powered or gas-powered fireplaces can end up damaging them. Not only this, burning coal won’t be as efficient and create a carbon monoxide build-up.
What Are The Dangers Of Burning Unwanted objects?
Burning substances that are not meant to be put in the fireplace can have a lot of side effects.
To begin with, it can end up ruining your fireplace itself. There can be a lot of creosote build-up in your chimney and the fireplace and even damage some of the internal components.
The environmental and health damage is even more severe. Burning unwanted substances can release a lot of smoke, filled with dangerous chemicals which can lead to a lot of long-term health issues such as reduced immunity, dizziness, stomach issues, liver and kidney damage, increased risk of cancer, and prolonged headaches with memory loss.
You should only burn seasoned firewood in your fireplace unless it has been converted to handle coal as well, you can also burn pallet wood that has not been treated with chemicals. You can also use dry leaves or newspapers as firestarters but only in small quantities.
Keep in mind that any chemically treated substance such as stained wood, plastics, trash, fabric, wood pallets or driftwood should be avoided.
I am the guy behind Theyardable.com. I grew up on a homestead and I am here to share the knowledge I have and things I learn while living in the countryside.