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Not all firewood is equal. There are some types of firewood that burn crisp and dry with good strong heat while some firewood will burn but will make your home a filthy, smoking mess. Yes, there is some firewood that is just toxic to health when burned. You need to be aware of this because you may only end up ruining your family’s health especially if you have someone with respiratory illnesses at home.
Wood that is very toxic to burn
Whether you have a wood burning fireplace or a wood burning stove, it pays to know which wood will burn well and which ones are very toxic to use.
Never burn trash
There is firewood and there is wood that just cannot be burned, especially indoors, because these contain very harmful additives like paint, varnish and pressure-treatment chemicals. If you burn these trash, you will release all kinds of toxic chemicals to air and just pollute your home.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these harmful chemicals can cause health conditions and will cause toxic gases to be released in the atmosphere. Do not dispose of treated, painted or pressure-treated wood by burning. Let garbage collectors take these or do all you can to reuse wood.
Using green wood
Green wood contains a lot of water and sap, these make it bad for burning. Green wood has to be seasoned or dried completely at about six to nine months before use.
First of all, green wood is very hard to light and when you do get a fire going, it will burn but not very efficiently.
Green wood smoke is very thick and this is combined with ash and creosote which can stick to the walls of your fireplace chimney, the walls of the exhaust of your wood stove and it will cover the glass windows of your stove. It is hard to clean up ash and creosote and usually these will obstruct your chimney and the flue of your stove.
Using big wood
Usually, this happens when you have a large felled tree in your hard or you just have a large log or a large piece of wood in your backyard that you would like to burn. If the wood is more than five inches in diameter then you must chop it or split it before use. A large piece of wood will be very difficult to light and will only cause a lot of smoke and ash.
Using non-local firewood
Always ask your supplier where the wood you’re purchasing is from to avoid any invasive wood pests and molds. According to the Don’t Move Firewood Campaign, firewood that travels too far is the most common way that invasive insects and diseases spread at an alarming rate. And the most common pests that tend to move with firewood are the emerald ash borer, the Asian longhorned beetle, and the gold-spotted oak borer.
Outbreaks of wood pests almost always originate in or near public campgrounds. Infestations usually link back to a homeowner who bought firewood that came from an infested area. Therefore you must never leave questionable wood lying around and never take any home with you.
Never use salt-saturated driftwood as firewood. This can release toxic or harmful chemicals when burned, according to the EPA. It is simply best to leave driftwood alone or use it for décor or home accessories.
Using poisonous wood
Never burn wood that is covered with vines. There are poisonous vines like poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak or anything else with “poison” in the name releases the irritant oil urushiol into the smoke. Breathing the smoke from these vines can cause severe lung irritation and can trigger allergic respiratory conditions.
Every part of the oleander shrub is pure poison. Oleander shrubs live in frost-free climates and will not burn. Do not use the branches for smoking and don’t even use the twigs to toast marshmallows, grill fish and more.
Burning endangered species
Although it is unlikely you will find endangered firewood being sold as firewood in a supplier’s yard but just to make sure, never burn a blue ash, American chestnut, the Kentucky coffee tree. There are more than 20 endangered native trees in North America. You must be aware of this list as long as you are using firewood for warmth and cooking.
There is good, powerful and hot wood to use and yet there is also wood that is not fit for burning. These are toxic and will only cause more harm than good for your family.