Chimney CapDo you ever look at warning tags on things and wonder if they’re put in place as a joke? Don’t use your hair dryer in the shower or while asleep; they seriously have to warn people about these potential dangers? Today I want to discuss some actual warnings that you may not be aware of. Let’s talk fireplace safety and what you should never burn in your fireplace.

Never Burn

Pressure treated or painted woods – these may look safe enough, but the chemicals become toxic when you burn them. Never burn pressure treated, painted, or otherwise treated wood such as particle board or pressed board in your fireplace or wood burning stove.

Driftwood from the ocean also contains chemicals that are potentially toxic when burned. Avoid picking up old driftwood to burn in your fireplace.

Household garbage should never be burned in the fireplace. Besides the horrible smell that would permeate your home, the boxes and containers used in most household garbage items release toxic chemicals when burned.

Magazines, cardboard, and anything with colored ink. A lot of people start their fire using some type of paper, including magazines. The colored inks in magazines, as well as the plastic-like coating that protects the pages release toxic chemicals when burned.

Wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood should never be burned in your fireplace or wood burning stove. Mold can be distributed throughout your home and cause health problems for your family, guests, or household pets.

Manufactured logs made from wax and sawdust are created for open-hearth fireplaces, not enclosed units or wood burning stoves.

Cloth, clothing, or other combustibles shouldn’t be burned in the fireplace or wood burning stove. Aside from the smell they would produce, they produce a large amount of smoke and soot that shouldn’t be allowed to coat the inside of your flue. Cloth also burns high and hot, increasing the likelihood of chimney fire due to creosote or soot buildup.

Preferred to Burn

Hardwoods that have seasoned at least 6 months. Properly seasoned wood looks a little darker than unseasoned wood, and has easily visible cracks in the grain. Maple, oak, birch, or ash are the best hardwoods to burn in your fireplace or stove. If you use manufactured woods, use only those made from 100% compressed sawdust with no chemical additives.

Kindling should always consist of real wood, natural or organic fire starters, or newspaper without colored ink. Kindling made from 100% compressed sawdust is a secondary option if you choose to use manufactured kindling.

Safety Precautions

Always use extreme caution when burning wood in your fireplace or wood burning stove. Keep your fire extinguisher nearby, replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries regularly, and have your chimney professionally inspected at least once every year. Perform a visual inspection of your own between professional inspections. Call a certified chimney sweep when you need to have the chimney and flue cleaned.