Why Shouldn’t I Burn Anything Beside Wood In My Woodstove?

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Things You Should Never Burn In Your Fireplace or Woodstove

When using your fireplace or woodstove, it’s essential to think about fire prevention. Every year there are thousands of house fires resulting in hundreds of injuries and even some deaths. And most of them were preventable.

When you’re having trouble lighting a fire or keeping it going in the fireplace, it may be tempting to use whatever you may have nearby like magazines, paper, and pieces of wood. While some everyday household items may seem innocuous, many contain harmful chemicals that could cause a fire or health hazard when those toxins are released into the air. Here are 5 things you should NEVER burn in your fireplace or woodstove:

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees are the most common item that homeowners consider disposing of in the fireplace. But its also one of the most hazardous for many reasons. Christmas tree branches contain a lot of moisture. When wet wood burns, it creates a smoky fire that also produces much more creosote than dry or seasoned wood. Also, Conifers contai n terpene oils in their sap, which can create excessive heat in the fireplace, increasing the risk of fire or an explosion. And the needles itself contain nitrogen and hydrogen, which can cause an explosion inside the confined space of a fireplace. Many communities offer safe disposals of Christmas trees. Check with your local municipality to find out disposal methods in your area.

Unseasoned Wood

Chopping down a tree and tossing the wood into the fireplace is something you should never do. Unseasoned (wet) or “green” lumber has a high moisture content that burns fast at high temperatures. It produces large amounts of creosote that stick to the flue. Excessive creosote in the chimney is the number one cause of residential structure fires.


If you have been thinking about cutting up your old furniture to burn in the fireplace, think again. Most furniture items are not pure wood. They also contain chemicals to enhance their appearance along with glue and other adhesives. These chemicals can cause an extreme fire hazard leading or even an explosion.

Credit cards or plastics

Credit cards and other plastic products are hazardous to burn. The heat releases harmful gases like dioxin and carbon monoxide, which can cause severe respiratory problems and other serious health issues. Never burn plastic products in your fireplace. Recycle them instead.

Magazines/Colored Paper

Magazines and treated paper, like coated, and colored paper, may seem harmless, but they should never be used to start a fire in your fireplace or woodstove. Burning many of these specialty paper stocks will release noxious fumes increasing the risk of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, don’t use dryer lint for kindling. Use newspaper or crumpled plain paper as kindling.

So, what can you safely burn in your fireplace or woodstove? The only item that you should burn is dry firewood that has been seasoned for at least six months. Also, never use a lighter, starter fluid or any flammable liquid to light the fire. For fireplace safety, use long reach matches to light your kindling.

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