Is Burning Cedar Toxic?

The Cedar wood tree belongs to the coniferous family. As seen in their features, they are relatively thin, tall, and produces oily leaves. It also features a unique aroma, making them attractive for various use.

There are a lot of options on wood choices that can be used for different purposes, especially for cooking. Each wood type offers distinct and unique flavors and burning points. Is Cedar wood one of them? Most species of Cedars are filled with volatile oils. These oils are being used for a variety of purposes.

They are a good alternative for pine in starting wood fires, and they also prove to be an amazing natural source for kindling. While it is great for starting fires, burning it for an exclusive use may not be recommended. Is burning Cedar toxic? Let’s see.

Is Cedar Wood Toxic to Cook On?

Cedar wood is known for its distinct color and flavor. This is caused by the oils and tannins, or colored extractives, present in this wood. Cedar wood varieties that contain these substances are highly suitable for food flavoring. When it comes to cooking, there are certain varieties of Cedar wood that are recommended, and some that may not be good.

Western Red Cedar

The Western Red Cedar is abundant in the Pacific Northwest. It is also the original Cedar type of wood that is famous in the traditional Native American cookouts. It is non-toxic and delicious. It is also the most recommended, and safest type of Cedar wood for cooking.

Northern White Cedar

The Northern White Cedar is sometimes used in cooking. However, with the absence of the colored extractives, it does not do well in adding flavor. It is also found to be prone to blue fungus staining.

White Cedar

White Cedar has extremely low levels of colored extractives. As such, they are safe, but may only produce little flavor.

Atlantic Cedar, Alaskan Yellow Cedar, Port Oxford Cedar

These species have high resin levels which may create a pungent flavor which may be a turn off in cooking.

Eastern Red Cedar and Western Juniper

These two varieties of Cedar Wood are not recommended for cooking at all. The Eastern Red Cedar is poisonous. Its best use is in making closet interiors.

On the other hand, the Western Juniper is also poisonous. However, it is best used in making fence posts.

Burning Cedar Wood in a Fireplace

While it is possible to burn cedar in your fireplace, it is recommended that it only be used for kindling. The reason behind this is due to the oil that is produced by this wood, building up in the chimney. This could cause a fire hazard when left unnoticed. Because of the abundance of Cedar wood trees around, it could be tempting to use them for your fireplace. If you have this idea in mind, there are some things that you need to take into consideration.

Compared to other types of woods, Cedar wood is somewhat light, making it possible to haul in bulk. Its fast and strong burn makes it a good option for kindling. However, note that the blaze could also be hard to control, especially in an indoor place. At times, you may encounter the wood’s tendency to crackle and spit wood fragments. This could prove dangerous in an indoor setup. To avoid this, it is best to use only a small amount of wood for fireplace use to make it manageable.

Also, Cedar wood is naturally oily. When using unseasoned Cedar wood, the burning point tends to be lower. This may result with the natural oils escaping through your chimney, leaving oily residues. Through time, the pile up of residues may also cause some fire hazard because the oil may ignite fire.


Is burning Cedar toxic? As presented above, many types of cedars are not good firewood choices. As such, they should not be used in any fireplace or stove. While the burn will burn, but containing it in an indoor environment may not be a good decision. Burning Cedar is recommended to be done in an open area where you will not have to worry about explosive heat and smoke.

While the oil that is present in Cedar wood could pose a problem to your chimney, it is safe to your health. It is important to note that some varieties of Cedar wood are toxic, while some are not. Make sure to know the specific variety of your Cedar wood before using it on your next cookout!