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Last week, we shared a helpful guide on what types of wood burn well in your backyard incinerator. This week, we’re looking at what to avoid burning so you can have the best experience possible while still being environmentally friendly.

When deciding what not to burn, there are a few basic rules to keep in mind. While you can burn many things in your burn barrel, it is important to remember that you can’t burn everything. If you’re unsure of a certain material, always do your research before throwing it into the fire pit.

Non-Local Wood

Any firewood that has traveled a long distance risks exposing new areas to invasive diseases and insects. Just one infected log can put an entire forest at risk, so it is vital to always source your burning materials locally. Especially during warmer months, many local retailers will carry firewood that you can use to fuel your incinerator safely.


Wood that has been exposed to water or other unknown conditions can lead to dangerous chemicals forming on the wood. Salt and chlorine can turn into carcinogens, which are toxic and should be avoided at all costs when burning. If you find driftwood, consider cleaning it up from the ground and choosing an alternative disposal method.

Painted & Treated Wood

Wood that has been painted or treated can be a hazard to your health and the overall environment. Especially in older woods that have been preserved with treatments, toxic chemicals such as arsenic can be found. If burned, this releases all of the dangerous toxins into the air. This is also true of painted wood, which can include its own set of chemicals.

It is best to avoid burning these types of wood all together and find a different disposal method. If you are unsure if your wood was treated or not, try out this simple test kit to help make smarter burning decisions.

Green Wood

It is always best to let your freshly cut wood dry out, otherwise you may end up burning green wood. In addition to being difficult to light, the high sap and moisture content leads to more smoke and results in an inefficient burn.


Always do your research before burning and remember to follow our Safety Precautions for the best experience possible.

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