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Have a Fireplace? Here is What You Should NOT be Putting in it.

Written by jsolloway on . Posted in , .

Many New Hampshire residents are staying warm this winter season by loading up their fireplace with the wood they’ve spent all season cutting, and hoping it lasts long enough to burn away the winter blues. While having a fireplace is a great way to keep your home warm during the winter season, do you know what items are safe to burn? Or better yet, what items you shouldn’t burn in your fireplace? This may seem like a very simple question for some, but for others, throwing some of the wood you’ve cut down from the woods is sufficient enough. Unfortunately, there are many types of wood that are not recommended to be burned in a fireplace, as well as other everyday items such as plastic and newspapers, as these items may cause a chimney fire or result in toxic fumes. So, before you toss the sports section of the newspaper portraying a loss for your favorite team or family photo of everyone wearing matching holiday sweaters into the fireplace, review the below guidelines on what is and isn’t recommended for you to burn.

What Not to Put into Your Fireplace

Have you ever contemplated on throwing that empty marshmallow bag into the fireplace after roasting marshmallows with your family on a cold winter night? Or the wrapping paper from a birthday party or holiday gathering? If so, you are like many other fireplace owners who are unsure of what they can and cannot burn. To avoid any harmful impacts, it is recommended to avoid burning:

  • Colored paper, such as construction paper or wrapping paper, newspapers or magazine pages (these items may contain metal that emit toxic fumes when burned).
  • Painted, treated or stained wood, such as picture frames, plywood and particle boards (these items can also emit toxic fumes when burned).
  • Plastic items (again, these things can emit toxic fumes when burned).
  • Kerosene or lighter fluid (these are highly flammable and can cause a fire to become erratic very quickly).
  • Christmas trees (easily burn and may contain resin, which can contribute to chimney fires).
  • Coal/Charcoal (these burn much hotter than wood, and may produce more carbon-monoxide than wood).

Types of Wood to Avoid Burning

Along with everyday items that should not make their way to your fireplace, there are also numerous types of wood that are not recommended to be burned such as:

  • Soft wood such as: pines, cypress or firs (soft wood tends to burn very quickly and cause a lot of smoke which may damage your chimney).
  • Driftwood (most driftwood contains chlorine, which may be harmful when burned).
  • Poison plants such as: poison ivy, oak and sumac (when burned, these may create an irritant that may be harmful when inhaled).
  • Large wood that is too big to fit in your fireplace (wood should be cut into 5 inch sections in order for it to burn safety).
  • Wet or saturated wood.

Visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a more comprehensive list on what items are not safe to burn.

So, what can I burn in my fireplace?

With all the things you can’t burn in your fireplace, I am sure you are wondering what you can burn. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the types of wood that you can burn in your fireplace are:

  • Dried or “seasoned” wood (optimal for burning because it contains less water than freshly cut wood).
  • Harwoods such as maple and oak (these types of wood contain higher energy content; therefore, releases more heat).
  • Walnut and black oak (these types of wood also burn longer and creates more heat).

Visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America to learn more about the types of wood that are recommended to burn.
Soil-Away is a family-owned and operated business that has been serving the communities of New Hampshire for the last 25 years. We are always here to help you, regardless of whether it is a fire cleanup, mold remediation or water damage mitigation, we are here for you! Got an emergency? Contact our after-hours emergency number at 603-641-6555.
Written by: K. Gnatowski

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