Why Should I Burn Wise?
Approximately 10 million wood stoves are currently in use in the United States, and 65 percent of them are older, inefficient, conventional stoves. Just 20 old, non-EPA certified wood stoves can emit more than 1 ton of fine particle pollution (PM2.5) into your area during the cold months of the year.
Smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contain a mixture of harmful gases and small particles. Breathing these small particles can cause asthma attacks and severe bronchitis, aggravate heart and lung disease, and may increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses.
What Should I Do to Burn Wise?
1. Burn the Right Wood. Use Seasoned (Dried) Firewood.
Split, Stack, Cover, Store: Four Simple Steps to Drying Firewood
Burn the Right Wood. Not all wood is the same. Burn dry, seasoned wood to reduce particle pollution. Softwoods such as Douglas fir need six months to dry and hardwoods such as oak need at least 12 months. Garbage, plastic, treated lumber, and driftwood should never be burned. They emit toxic fumes and unhealthy particles.
Don't Burn Wet Wood
Wet wood is a problem for your health and your pocketbook. It creates a lot of smoke and burns inefficiently, meaning the heat literally goes up in smoke.
2. Operating Your Wood Burning Appliance
Operate Your Wood Stove More Efficiently
Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling or consider having a professional install a natural gas or propane log lighter in your open fireplace.
Burn hot fires.
To maintain proper airflow, regularly remove ashes from your wood-burning appliance into a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.
Items You Should Never Burn in Your Appliance
Never burn household garbage or cardboard. Plastics, foam and the colored ink on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned. They may also damage your wood-burning appliance.
Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases toxic chemicals when burned.
Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release toxic chemicals when burned.
Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.
More Wood Burning Resources
- News Article: www.epa.gov/burnwise/pdfs/kitarticle.pdf
- Fire and Health Safety Fast Facts: www.epa.gov/burnwise/pdfs/kitfacts.pdf
- Four Easy Steps InfoGraphic: www.epa.gov/burnwise/images/infographic_square.jpg
- Asthma Video PSA: www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJQ4IVDDA6Q
- Additional Health Resources and Tools: www.epa.gov/burnwise/kit.html