Nine Things You Should Never Burn in Your Fireplace
When you were growing up you probably heard the age-old admonition, “Don’t play with fire!” Turns out, adults oftentimes need to be reminded of the same thing. Who hasn’t seen or heard of a friend suffering burns from careless use of a barbeque or bonfire – such as pouring on copious amounts of flammable liquids? The fireplace in your home is certainly no place to break safe burning rules, since an accident could lead to a dangerous and costly home fire. The following are things that should never be burned in your fireplace, and some could be a surprise to you.
It may seem that firewood is firewood and driftwood is just another kind of wood for the fire. Not so, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)! Don’t burn ocean driftwood in your fireplace because the wood has absorbed chemicals from the ocean that may be toxic when burned.
Don’t burn wood that has been treated, stained painted, or manufactured. Cardboard, plywood, and treated and painted lumber are examples. The problem with burning these materials is that they release toxic fumes when burned.
While we’re on the subject of fumes, never burn plastics in your fireplace because the fumes could be noxious.
Don’t burn trash, as though your fireplace were a household incinerator. Styrofoam cups, empty containers, boxes printed with colored ink, and plastic wraps are a few of the many items that can create a hazardous combination of poisonous fumes.
There are several reasons you shouldn’t burn colored paper or paper in general, other than the exception of using a bit of black and white newspaper to get a fire started. The colored ink used to print magazines, newspaper inserts, and wrapping paper can release toxic fumes when they are burned. Another problem is that paper burns rapidly, and flames could go up the chimney and ignite the creosote deposits in the chimney lining. Chimney fires are very dangerous. In addition, a section of paper could float up and out of the chimney, propelled by the hot air, and cause combustible materials to ignite, including possibly the roof.
Never use accelerants to start your fireplace. Lighter fluid, kerosene, and gasoline are all highly flammable and can produce large, unexpected flare-ups that spread the fire into your home and potentially on you.
Do not burn a Christmas tree or any type of evergreen in your fireplace. Evergreens contain resin that burns quickly and produces embers that pop and can rise up through the chimney onto the roof.
Don’t use your fireplace for burning charcoal or coal. Use those products in your outdoor barbeque grill. These fuels burn far hotter than firewood, and the safe temperature levels in your chimney and fireplace can be exceeded. These materials also produce a lot more deadly carbon monoxide than wood produces. Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. It’s important to have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, if you have a fireplace, so that you and your family can get needed warning in the event too much carbon monoxide is released.
Finally, don’t burn cloth or clothing in your fireplace or in your wood-burning stove. Not only does it smell bad, but clothing produces an excess amount of smoke and soot that will end up adding to the creosote in your chimney lining. Because cloth burns so hot, the likelihood of a chimney fire starting is increased.
Now that you know what not to burn, here’s a quick answer to what you should burn: Use only seasoned firewood in your fireplace and wood stove. Contact us at Chimney Solutions if you need a chimney inspection or cleaning, especially if you’ve been burning any of the above nine items listed. Stop in and see us at 1155 McFarland 400 Drive, or reach us by phone with any questions at (770) 255-1300.