Fireplace 101: Best Burn Practices

When burning a fire in your wood-burning fireplace, it is essential to observe several best practices to enjoy a more responsible fire. Read on for a lesson entitled, Fireplace 101.

Winter is nearly upon us, and that means a few things: warm clothes, holiday fun and nestling up to loved ones by the fire.  However, when burning a fire in your wood-burning fireplace, it is essential to observe several best practices to enjoy a more responsible fire.  Read on for a lesson entitled, Fireplace 101.

It is important to avoid hazards when using your fireplace.  These are relatively common sense, but we sometimes forget the most basic things. Consider these safety measures whilst using your fireplace:

  • Only start a fire with newspaper and other dry kindling.  Do not take a shortcut with gasoline or other starters.
  • Clear the area of fire hazards.  Move all newspapers, shoes, curtains, furniture, and other items away from the fireplace.
  • Build a hot fire.  Get the most out of your fireplace instead of letting it smolder, which is neither safe nor very helpful.
  • Keep the door closed.  A fireplace with its doors open presents health risks to you and your family, as CO may get into your home.  Keep the door shut unless you are somehow maintaining the fire.


The fire burner’s Bible indicates that thou shalt NEVER...

  • Burn chemically-treated wood.  Wood items that have been affected by chemicals release these toxins into the air when the wood is burned.  Such items include paint, lacquer, glue and others. 
  • Burn driftwood, plywood and particle board.  These, too, release harmful chemicals.
  • Burn cardboard or trash. Plastic has always been known to be particularly harmful.  Items such as wrappers or paper treated with ink (i.e. books, magazines, etc.) and foam may also not only damage the fireplace, but also produce nasty chemicals.
  • Use wet/green logs.  Only use dry wood that has been seasoned outdoors for 6 months-1 year.


Pollution is also a great concern in today’s world.  There are several ways to do your part in reducing polution when using your fireplace, notably in reducing smoke in the air.  Practice these environmental-friendly habits:

  • Burn clean.  Different fireplace units affect the air in varying degrees.  There are a number of appliances that burn wood in a cleaner way.  Wood-burning units are generally required to meet EPA standards, but smoke emission levels do vary.  Consider checking the EPA list to make your choice.
  • Do not burn during health alerts.  Local news services will often alert residents to any immediate environmental concerns.  If an air pollution episode is occurring in your area, the Air Quality Index has been affected, and burning a fire is an unwise choice.  For convenience, the linked site allows users to search their region on the top of the page.  The table below gives a quick run-down of air and pollution levels:


We all want to enjoy our time by the fireplace.  This is easily done, so long as we understand the dos and don’ts associated with burning a fire.  Add the information learned here to your winter checklist and indulge in a toasty winter season!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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