14 Things You Should Never Burn In Your Fireplace


Fireplaces can burn just about anything you want to toss into it.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should toss anything you want into your fireplace.

In fact, many things can be downright dangerous to burn in your fireplace at home. The risks here aren’t so much about creating fire hazards.

It’s mostly to do with the chemicals that you’d be breathing in if you did choose to burn these things.

We’ve collected a list of 14 things that you should never, ever burn in your fireplace.

#1 – Greenwood

Greenwood is simply wood that hasn’t been seasoned properly.

And seasoned wood just means that it’s dried out enough to have 15-25% moisture content.

If you choose to burn greenwood in your fireplace, you’d likely see that wet wood produces a lot more smoke than dry wood.

This is a problem because excessive smoke will lead to an increase in creosote build-up inside your chimney’s flue.

Creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires each year.

Wet wood doesn’t burn as hot as seasoned firewood either. This means that your fire will have to work harder to produce enough heat to stay lit, because it’s trying to also evaporate all of the water that’s still inside the wood.

#2 – Christmas Trees (or any other kind of evergreen)

Sometimes after Christmas people will toss their Christmas tree into their fireplace.

The problem with burning Christmas trees and many other evergreen trees is that they are full of resin that burns very quickly.

The resin produces embers that pop and can rise up through the chimney onto the roof.

If you are burning your Christmas tree after the holidays, I’d guess that you used your fireplace for the previous few months.

If so, then I’d also bet that you have some creosote built up inside your flue wall.

Since creosote is a highly flammable substance, the embers from burning your Christmas tree could easily ignite a fire inside your chimney’s flue.

#3 – Painted or Treated Lumber

Painted or treated lumber usually contains several toxic chemicals that are released when burned.

Older treated wood used to be infused with arsenic to prevent damage from moisture and insects.

When you burn this wood, the smoke will have toxins from the arsenic.

I probably don’t have to tell you that breathing in those fumes is dangerous for you and your family.

But what may surprise you is that many of those chemicals will also corrode your fireplace.

Corroded fireplaces can lead to cracks and chips that will allow stray embers to escape the flue and potentially catch your house on fire.

Corroded flue liners will also need to be replaced much sooner than if it’s not corroded.

#4 – Any Type of Paper with Color Print

Paper with colored printing has the same issue as treated wood.

Burning this can easily release toxins that you’ll inevitably breathe in. This includes wrapping paper, magazines, cereal boxes, and pizza boxes.

Burning these can release noxious, corrosive, or carcinogenic gases when burned.

While you shouldn’t burn paper in general, it’s okay to use a bit of black and white newspaper to get a fire started.

#5 – Plywood, Particleboard, or chipboard

Composite wood, manufactured wood…

Whatever you choose to call it, don’t burn it!

This type of wood is made by binding small pieces, strands, or particles of wood together with adhesives or fixatives to form a composite.

The wood created is plywood, particleboard, fiberboard, oriented strand board, and a few others.

But the problem with this is that the adhesives are toxic when burned.

#6 – Fire Accelerants or Fire Starters

Never use fire accelerants, such as gasoline or lighter fluid to get your fire going.

The problem with this is that accelerants can cause dangerous flare-ups and can heat your chimney to temperatures that are too high and unsafe.

Accelerants are designed for very specific uses and should never be used to fuel an indoor fire. Partly because they often contain methanol- and petroleum-based chemicals.

These are (you guessed it!) toxic when burned!

#7 – Plastics

Plastics are actually one of the most dangerous items on our list.

Not only do they produce harmful byproducts to our environment, like carbon monoxide, but those byproducts are also terrible for your health.

For example, dioxin, which is released when burning plastics like PVC, is not only a carcinogen but it can have other serious impacts on your health.

Dioxin can also cause headaches, fatigue, weakness, and respiratory system damage!

It’s always best to recycle any plastics that you can.

#8 – Dryer Lint

You’ve probably heard that using dryer lint is a great way to start a fire.

That’s true!

But it should be kept as a fire starter when you’re outside at your firepit or camping.

The synthetic fibers in dryer lint can release dangerous chemical fumes into your home and chimney.

#9 – Cardboard

Small recyclables are often used to start a fire because they do a good job at catching fire quickly.

But the next time you want to get a fire going in your home, don’t use cardboard.

This is because cardboard is frequently treated with chemicals that are harmful to you and your family if you ingest them.

Instead, you should use approved fire starters that you can buy at any store that supplies camping gear.

Or better yet, just use small splinters of wood from your stock of seasoned firewood!

#10 – Driftwood

You’ve probably been to a beach party where driftwood was burned.

It’s so pretty how the beautiful lavender-blue flames dance in the night. The flame probably put you in a trance!

Little did you know that driftwood flame is a female praying mantis and you’re her mate.

Those colorful flames are produced by metal salts that the wood absorbed while it was away at sea.

Unfortunately, the fumes from those beautiful flames are toxic.

So toxic that many beach towns have actually banned burning driftwood!

#11 – Charcoal or Coal

Don’t use your fireplace to burn charcoal or coal.

Use those in your outdoor grill.

Charcoal and coal burn hotter than firewood. The safe temperature levels in your chimney and fireplace can easily be exceeded if you’re not careful.

This can cause issues with your liner, leading to problems with drafting and chimney fires.

Charcoal and coal also produce a lot more carbon monoxide than wood products. Carbon monoxide in large enough doses can be fatal.

#12 – Cloth or Clothing

Just like with burning dryer lint, the synthetic fibers in dryer lint can release dangerous chemical fumes into your home and chimney.

Plus, not only does burning clothes smell bad it also produces an excessive amount of smoke and soot that will stick to the inside of your flue.

And since clothes burn so hot, the likelihood of a chimney fire starting is increased even more.

#13 – Allergen Producing Brushwood

When I was younger, I built a fire outside. This wasn’t uncommon at all.

What was remarkable about this fire was that some of the wood that I used had poison oak and poison ivy all over.

And I didn’t know it.

In the winter, plants obviously lose their leaves. So it can be very difficult to tell if you’re gathering harmless vines or poisonous ones.

The fumes from the burning plants and wood that contained the oils was breathed in by my siblings too.

We only had minor allergic reactions and a few rounds of steroids, but it was definitely miserable.

It could be worse inside, especially if the venting system in your chimney isn’t great.

#14 – Wood Pallets

Wood pallets look really cool when they’re repurposed into a table or a chair.

And repurposing them is a great idea.

Just don’t burn them.

Many pallets are treating with the chemical pesticide methyl bromide to prevent the spread of the emerald ash borer, which is a beetle that wreaks havoc on living ash trees.

Whether you’re inside our outside, you should just avoid burning pallets, especially if they have a stamp “MB” on it.

“MB” will indicate that it’s been treated with chemicals.

I’d recommend veering on the safe side by not burning them at all.


The best wood to use is seasoned wood.

And if you have a gas fireplace, you shouldn’t toss anything into the firebox. You already have fuel!

When the burn season is here, refer back to this list in case you get curious to see if you can burn something or not.

Now you’re one step closer to a safer fire this winter.

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