How To Have a More Eco-Friendly FirePlace

Environmentally Friendly and Not-So-Friendly Facts about Wood-Burning

For those of you who use a fireplace and are also interested in protecting the environment, there is good news. While there are some aspects of wood-burning that can have adverse environmental effects, it is possible to have an eco-friendly fireplace. Doing things right begins with an understanding of how things can go wrong.

Various potential adverse aspects of wood burning follow:

  • Cutting down a tree for the purpose of burning wood contributes to deforestation, which destroys local ecosystems. In addition, even if you plant two trees to replace the tree that was cut down, the amount of carbon dioxide that was produced by the large tree is not nearly replaced.
  • When wood is not burned efficiently and completely, particulate matter is released into the air. Particulate matter consists of tiny, solid particles that can be described as soot. These particles can cause many health issues, such as lung problems.
  • Another byproduct of incomplete combustion is a release of nitrogen oxides, which contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. Nitrogen dioxide is brown, smelly, and toxic.
  • Incomplete combustion also results in a release of carbon monoxide, which is a colorless, odorless, deadly gas.
  • The same as when burning oil, coal, or natural gas, burning wood releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

While natural trees do not emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) when they are burned, VOCs are emitted as gases when certain liquids and solids are burned. The following are examples of products that should not be burned because they will emit harmful, toxic gases:

  • Formaldehyde
  • Pesticides
  • Arsenic
  • Wood that is painted, stained, or glued
  • Diseased or moldy firewood
  • Any type of treated wood, such as cardboard, particle board, and pallets
  • Glossy or colored paper. The black and white pages of a newspaper are, however, safe for the environment, if burned
  • Driftwood (it releases chlorine gas because it contains ocean salt or sodium chloride)
  • Trash. It’s safe to assume that anything other than unaltered firewood contains chemicals that are harmful to the environment

Tips for using a fireplace in an eco-friendly way:

  • Do not burn unseasoned firewood. The combustion process of burning a log is disrupted if the wood contains too much moisture. “Green” wood creates a lot of pollution and greatly increases the amount of creosote that is deposited in a chimney lining.
  • Always burn seasoned firewood. When you use dry firewood and use the most environmentally friendly burning practices, the amount of particulate matter that is released into the air is greatly minimized.
  • Burn hardwoods. Hardwood trees burn cleaner, longer
    and hotter than softwoods. Some examples of hardwood trees are oak, maple, walnut, ash,cherry, poplar, and birch.
  • Avoid a smoldering fire. Burn a hot but safe fire, since it will yield greater efficiency and achieve full combustion. A smoldering fire yields a lot of smoke and releases hazardous particulate matter into the air. The less smoke there is, the more heat is produced.
  • Keep your chimney clean and in good working condition. Have one of our professional chimney sweeps do an annual cleaning and inspection. If a chimney is in a state of disrepair, it results in less efficient venting and more pollution.
  • If you don’t already have one, consider getting a fireplace insert for your open hearth fireplace. The efficiency of a fireplace insert can be up to 80%, whereas a regular fireplace usually only has about a 10% efficiency, at most.

Contact us today for the installation of a fireplace insert or for any questions you may have about your chimney system and how to use your fireplace in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the environment.

Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-771-5501

Chimney Sweep / Chimney Repairs / Chimney Liners / Fireplace & Stove Service
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