The key to a roaring fire and a healthy chimney system is using the right fuel. In a recent blog post, we discussed which types of wood serve as the best fuel for your fire. In this post, however, we will be exploring the opposite end of the spectrum: what NOT to burn in your fireplace. While many of these items may seem obvious, you might be surprised by some of the “fuel” we at Brick + Ember Outfitters have come across servicing fireplaces and chimneys in the Indianapolis area. 

Manufactured Wood

It may be tempting to make use of the spare lumber and plywood from your home improvement projects by throwing them onto the fire. However, it is very dangerous to do so. Manufactured, pressure treated wood is infused with harmful chemicals, such as arsenic and chromium. Burning the wood releases those chemicals into the air, exposing them to you, your family and your pets.


Like manufactured wood, cardboard contains dangerous chemicals, glues and inks. Inhaling those chemicals, released during the burning process, could be seriously harmful to your health.

Coated Paper

Paper is of course very helpful as supplemental fuel when building a fire. That said, don’t just blindly reach into the recycling bin when you next use your fireplace. Paper with a waxy coating—such as magazine pages and wrapping paper—is, again, manufactured with chemicals that are harmful when burned. Only use uncoated paper, like newspaper, as fuel.


Plastic is one of the worst materials you could put in your fireplace. As a synthetic substance, plastic has an entirely chemical makeup. Burning plastic produces one of the most harmful gases you could inhale—not to mention a very unpleasant odor.

Dryer Lint

Dryer lint will certainly accelerate any fire. That’s why it’s so important to keep your dryer vent clean and clear. However, don’t take all that lint and throw it into your fireplace. Why? You guessed it: chemical content.

Liquid Accelerants

In addition to dryer lint, you should avoid using other accelerants in your fireplace. Lighter fluid, kerosene or gasoline will certainly speed the burning process but could easily lead to an out of control fire. Liquid accelerants can also bring fires to temperatures that are damaging to your chimney and your home.

Christmas Trees

While it may seem convenient and rustic to use your Christmas tree as firewood for the new year, please don’t do it. The wood of your tree has not been properly dried and seasoned for burning. In addition, the highly resinous pine or fir will create dangerous creosote deposits that could cause a chimney fire.

What You Should Use: Dry, Seasoned Wood

The only safe fuel for your fireplace is wood that has been dried and seasoned. Burning unseasoned wood or other materials could have seriously negative consequences for your chimney, your home and your health. Be sure to purchase your wood from a reputable source, and, when in doubt, call your local Brick + Ember Outfitters with any questions you may have. We’re always happy to help!