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Learn What Wood Is Toxic to Burn in Your Fireplace

What wood is toxic to burn


A fireplace can make your house feel cozy and inviting, while also keeping you warm. But, you should know what is best to put in there. In other words, you need to learn what wood is toxic to burn. As a result, you’ll keep your family healthy as well as the environment inside your house.

There are some things that you should avoid burning in your fireplace altogether. For example, trash, cardboard, or colored paper should never go in your fireplace. But, you must know that not all wood is safe to burn. Many homeowners don’t know this. As a result, they are exposing their families to toxic chemicals.

In this blog, we’ll discuss some types of wood that are toxic when making chimney fires. Don’t burn these, and you’ll ensure that you and your family are not breathing in anything dangerous.

Knowing What Wood Is Toxic to Burn Is Crucial

When starting a fire, you shouldn’t throw any log in. This is because not every timber is safe to burn inside your home. There are some that you could use for outdoor fires, for example, for camping. But, there are others that you should avoid burning altogether.

Whether you have a wood stove or fireplace, make sure that what you’re putting in is safe. Even though wood burns when you light it up, this doesn’t mean that you should use it inside your home.

So, what wood is toxic to burn?

  • Pressure-treated wood has a lot of preservative chemicals
  • Driftwood contains high levels of chlorine
  • Wood from poison sumac or poison ivy is poisonous
  • Green wood has a lot of moisture content
  • Wood from oleander is highly dangerous

Continue reading to learn why these are not safe to burn.

Pressure-Treated Wood

Don't burn pressure-treated wood

Do not burn pressure-treated wood in your house ever! Some wood is preserved to protect it from mold, insects, and decay. This method of maintaining the wood involves treating it with preservative chemicals. In other words, it means the chemicals are infused into the wood instead of applying them on the surface.

But, the issue is that these chemicals are highly toxic to humans. Even though the wood will be protected from decay, the air inside your home will be unhealthy to breathe.

Driftwood Is Toxic to Burn

Have you ever been walking around the beach and found a beautiful log or piece of wood that you want to burn in your fireplace? This is most commonly known as driftwood. But, you should never use driftwood for your chimney fires.

When wood floats around in the ocean, it absorbs saltwater, which is basically chlorine. As the wood burns in your fireplace, the salt or chlorine is converted into toxic chemicals.

You may find driftwood in rivers or lakes that contain freshwater. In other words, the wood has not absorbed chlorine. But, we don’t recommend burning this type of wood either. Driftwood usually floats around for months or years. As a result, it has a lot of moisture content, meaning that it will not burn well.

High moisture content can result in creosote buildup. Creosote is a thick material that results from unburned organic matter. If you burn driftwood in your house, then the wood will release smoke filled with creosote. As a result, the creosote will stick to the interior of your chimney.

If this continues for a long time, then it can restrict the airflow to and from your fireplace. But, the most dangerous part is that creosote is highly flammable. So, this can be a cause for a chimney fire. If you want to keep your family and house safe, then don’t ever burn driftwood.

Wood from Poison Sumac or Poison Ivy

Wood from poison ivy or sumac

When winter comes around, what some people do is that they go outside and start gathering any logs or vines from plants that have lost their leaves. However, this is a practice that you should avoid if you don’t know if the plants are poisonous.

If you just take any vine that you see, then you run the risk of burning wood from poison oak, poison sumac, or poison ivy. These types of plants have urushiol in them, which is a toxic compound that causes skin rash on contact.

Green Wood Can Cause Creosote Buildup

Be sure not to burn green wood in your fireplace! Don’t get carried away by its name and think that it is safe to burn. Green wood is basically wood that has just been cut.

After you cut a tree, you have to wait six to nine months before you use it in your fireplace. This is because green wood contains a lot of sap which means it has high moisture content. So, you have to wait for it to dry.

If you burn green wood in your fireplace, then you’ll have a hard time trying to light it up. Besides this, it can be harmful to you and your family. Just as with driftwood, green wood results in creosote buildup. So, avoid this type of wood if you want to keep you and your family safe.

If you don’t know whether a log was recently cut, you can ask the seller the date that it was cut. An alternative is to check the bark yourself. If you scratch the bark and it is still sticky with sap, then it’s a sign that is not dry enough.

Oleander is Highly Toxic

Finally, don’t ever use wood from an oleander branch to burn in your fireplace. This is a shrub that is highly dangerous. Every part of it is toxic. So, you shouldn’t even use the branches to hold your s’mores in your outdoor fires.

Now you know what wood is toxic to burn, but you may be wondering the types of wood that are safe to use. We recommend kiln dried firewood. This type of wood offers the safest and warmest fires. Firstly, it is hardwood, which is much better than soft wood.

After you cut the hardwood, you dry it in a kiln or furnace. As a result, the wood loses its amount of moisture content. As a result, kiln dried firewood offers more warmth and produces less smoke than other types of wood. You can find kiln dried wood as bundles in stores.


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