Thanks to modern-day technology, most homeowners no longer have to light a fire to stay warm during the colder winter months. Even so, nothing quite beats cozying up next to a crackling fire. Since you’ve been a responsible homeowner and kept up with your annual chimney inspections, now that the temperature outside has started to drop, you’re ready to kick back and relax in front of a roaring fire.  

While it may seem that anything that burns should make good kindling for your fireplace, burning some items can cause a major fire hazard. Other items may even release a cocktail of toxic fumes into your home that could be dangerous for you and your family. 

It’s important not to break safe burning rules when using the fireplace in your home. While you might not think much of burning some of the items below, accidents can happen in an instant and lead to a devastating house fire. 

Be sure to fuel your fire only with the right type of fuel. The right type of fuel will keep your fire burning longer and cleaner, creating a comfortable and enjoyable experience inside your home. Using the wrong materials, on the other hand, can cause excess smoke, a weak flame, and emit various toxic chemicals into your living space. 

We’ve compiled a list of eight things you should never burn in your fireplace: 

1.   Wet Wood

Burning wet wood produces more smoke than burning seasoned wood. Wet firewood causes creosote to accumulate on the walls of your chimney system. Also, wet wood generally does not produce as much heat. 

You should make sure that your firewood always remains dry. Dry wood is much easier to light than damp wood. Although you cannot completely avoid creosote buildup, you can help reduce buildup by burning only dry firewood and keeping your chimney professionally cleaned on a regular basis. 

2.  Christmas Trees

The holiday season is over, and you want nothing more than to strip the tree of its ornaments and get it out of the house. It may seem logical to cut up and burn your Christmas tree in the fireplace, but it’s best to properly dispose of it by other means. 

Furthermore, evergreen trees can contain large amounts of resin. These resins can pop and burn quickly, which can cause a chimney fire. 

3.  Painted or Treated Wood

Painted or treated lumber can contain toxic chemicals that are released when the wood is burned. The chemicals can irritate the lungs, skin, eyes, and cause major damage to the interior of your chimney system. 

4.  Plastics

Avoid burning any type of household plastics including bubble wrap, plastic cups, plastic bottles, cartons, etc. Burning these items in your fireplace releases dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to your health. These chemicals can include hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, dioxins and heavy metals that are bad for both you and the environment. 

5.  Cardboard or any type of paper with colored print

Paper that contains colored prints–wrapping paper, magazines, cereal or pizza boxes–can also release dangerous chemicals when burned. The same thing goes for cardboard boxes. The chemicals may create noxious, corrosive, or carcinogenic gases, which can have damaging effects on your health and your chimney system.

6.  Dryer Lint

There’s no denying that dryer lint can be a pretty effective fire starter. Sometimes people use it on camping trips to start campfires. However, burning dryer lint in your fireplace at home can release toxic chemicals into your home and your chimney.

7.  Driftwood

You should never burn driftwood in your fireplace, even if it’s dried out.  Driftwood can release salt that corrodes your fireplace and chimney. The best way to fuel your fireplace is to use dry, seasoned wood or manufactured fire logs that are specifically designed to be burned in your system. Any other types of fuel will put your home at risk  of emitting toxic fumes or chimney fires. 

8.  Fire accelerants or fire starters  

Using accelerants like kerosene, gasoline, or grill starter fluid is extremely dangerous. These accelerants and other fire starters can create flare ups in your fireplace, or heat your fire to such extremely high temperatures that your fireplace and chimney become unsafe. 

Burning the Right Way

Now that we’ve discussed what not to burn, here is a quick suggestion on what you should burn: use seasoned firewood only!

Brick + Ember Outfitters is dedicated to ensuring our clients are educated about how to safely operate their fireplace all season long. Our certified chimney technicians are dedicated to promoting the health of your chimney system. 

Contact us at Brick + Ember Outfitters of Indianapolis for your next chimney inspection or cleaning, especially if you’ve been burning any of the items listed above. Give us a call at 317-500-1250 to schedule your appointment. 

We’re looking forward to working with you!