How nice is it to light your fireplace on those cold nights? Whatever we have handy to throw into that fire, we typically do. However, we do need to be mindful about using wood that has been treated. Can you burn wood that has been treated? What are the possible effects of burning treated wood?
No! You should never burn wood that has been treated. The smoke will be full of toxic chemicals and the ashes may be harmful to wildlife or livestock. Sawdust, debris and chips from treated wood are hazardous waste and shouldn’t be disposed or burned in any location other than specific locations from government agencies.
Burning treated wood effects
You should never put treated wood in a firepit outside, in a fireplace, or on any fire. The wood that is treated will release hazardous toxins that can be dangerous to your health.
The fact is that treated wood contains preservatives such as pesticides that are used to extend the life of the wood.
Chemicals in the wood help to reduce weathering, rot and insects. If you burn that wood, it releases chemicals in the ash and smoke and can be an environmental hazard.
Treated wood can contain dyes or stains in various shades of brown and green. Chromated Copper Arsenate or CCA treated wood is no longer available in residential areas, however, it could be still accessible in buildings that are older. Never burn this kind of wood.
You can either re-use treated wood or get rid of it in a landfill as it is legal to do so.
Recognizing treated wood
Woods that are treated are typically foundation plywood, fence posts, grape stakes, pilings and railroad ties. To preserve the wood chemicals such as Ammoniacal Copper Arsenate, Chromated Copper Arsenate, creosote and pentachlorophenol are usually used.
To avoid degradation or rot while wood is in contact with soil or water, is chemically treated either by pressure treated or to the surface. When those chemicals are on the wood, they are not hazardous. A completely different story when that wood is burned in a fire.
You can recognize treated wood due to the end tag marking, similar to an ink stamp. There will be a slit marking on the surface of the wood if it has been pressure treated. It can appear green or dark brown in color. The color of the outside of surface treated wood is typically different than the inside color.
Check the environmental laws in your area, as some places can charge you with a misdemeanor if caught burning treated wood which could result in civil penalties and you can be liable to pay fines.
Treated wood will display tiny incisions on all sides indicating the treatment process and will typically be olive green in color. The incisions will tell you your wood has been treated as that is where the chemicals were injected into the wood.
It is vitally important to resist temptation to burn any type of wood other than firewood in your fireplace, fire pit or log burning stove. The following ten items should never be burned inside…
Wood that is seasoned will not produce too much smoke. However, wood that contains moisture or that is wet will produce too much smoke and may cause creosote build up which can be highly dangerous to the walls of the chimney. Be sure to only burn wood that is dry or seasoned. You should also research how often to clean your fireplace professional to get rid of creosote in the chimney.
We can be tempted to throw plants that have dried up into the fireplace. Plants are similar to firewood, right? But the smoke from certain plants such as poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac may cause an allergic reaction when inhaled or burned. Just leave your plants outside.
Treated or painted wood
Keep treated or painted wood out of the fireplace. When burned they can give off hazardous toxic chemicals throughout your home, do not put them in the fireplace. The chemicals can irritate skin, eyes and lungs, and also do damage to your log burner stove.
Although it would seem to make sense to get rid of your Christmas tree by throwing into your fireplace, but it is better to get rid of it some other way. The wood from the Christmas tree is not seasoned and evergreens most likely hold higher levels of resin that is fast to burn and will result in high temperatures, causing a crack or even a fire in the chimney.
Whatever kind of plastic you have-bubble wrap, cartons, plastic bottles, or plastic bags, never place them in the fireplace to burn. Burning plastic gives off dangerous chemicals that can be hazardous to your health.
Cardboard and papers
So many things other than firewood are tempting to throw in the fireplace. Wrapping paper, pizza boxes and old papers are no exception. Resist the temptation! Dispose of cardboard and/or papers in some other way. The colored ink can cause a release of toxic gases while burning.
Charcoal products are alright for your grill outside. Burning charcoal can release carbon monoxide into the air. That is the last thing you want to happen inside your house.
Lint from the dryer
If camping, dryer lint can be an excellent way to start a fire, but do not put it in your fireplace inside your home. Dryer lint’s synthetic fibers may give off hazardous chemical fumes into the chimney and your home. Find a better way to get rid of dryer lint.
If you happen to find a nice piece of driftwood along the coast and are thinking it would be ideal for the fireplace at home, think twice. It has the potential to give off salt which may destroy your chimney and fireplace. Rather, use it as a nice decorative piece in your home.
Fire accelerants such as kerosene, gasoline or starter fluid for the grill are extremely flammable. It can quickly become too hot for your log burner and chimney which puts your home, fireplace and chimney at risk. Leave the fire accelerants outside for the grill.