Wet wood damages a fireplace
Burning high moisture-content wood in your fireplace produces more smoke than seasoned wood. This, in turn, can cause dangerous creosote to build up on the walls of your chimney. Burn only dry wood. Be sure you always check your chimney before using your fireplace.
It may be tempting to throw dried up plants in the fireplace—they’re kind of like firewood, right? Well, the smoke from some plants, such as poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak can cause an allergic reaction when burned and inhaled. Leave all plant matter outside.
Painted or treated wood
Because burning painted and treated wood can release dangerous, toxic chemicals into your home, keep them out of your fireplace. Not only can these chemicals irritate lungs, eyes, and skin, but they can damage the inside of your fireplace. FYI: Never mount your TV above your fireplace.
It seems logical that you could get rid of your old Christmas tree in the fireplace, but it’s best to dispose of it by other means. Not only is the wood not properly seasoned, evergreen trees often contain high levels of quick-burning resin which can reach high temperatures and result in a chimney fire or even crack your chimney.
© TEERASAK LADNONGKHUN/SHUTTERSTOCK
It doesn’t matter what type of plastic you have—plastic bags, bubble wrap, plastic bottles, or cartons—never throw it in the fireplace. When burned, plastic releases harmful chemicals that can be dangerous for your health. Or, try to reduce your plastic consumption entirely.
Some papers and cardboard
It may be tempting to toss old papers, wrapping paper, or that cardboard pizza box in the fireplace, but you should dispose of paper and cardboard with colored print another way (though, make sure you check if you can recycle these things—because many times, you can’t). The brightly colored inks may release toxic gasses when burned.
While you may use charcoal products in your barbecue grill, keep them outdoors. When you burn charcoal, it releases carbon monoxide into the air, and that’s the last thing you want inside your home.
While dryer lint may work as a great fire starter when you’re on a camping trip, keep it out of your fireplace. The synthetic fibers in dryer lint can release dangerous chemical fumes into your home and chimney. Choose a healthier way to ignite your fire.
That large piece of driftwood you found on the coast may seem like a good choice for firewood, but it can potentially release salt and thus corrode your fireplace and chimney. Leave driftwood to its best use: a decoration.
Never use fire accelerants such as gasoline, grill starter fluid, or kerosene to start a fire. These highly flammable liquids can cause a fire that quickly becomes too hot for your fireplace and chimney, putting the integrity of your chimney and your home at risk. It’s best to keep these accelerants out of your home.
Article for Reader’s Digest by Rachel Brougham