When you’re firewood stack runs empty, you may attempt to burn other forms of wood and items in your fire pit. But you should think twice before burning anything other than firewood, because it could prove dangerous. Here’s a short list of some of the things that you should never burn in a fire pit.
What’s wrong with burning wooden pallets in a fire pit? As explained by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, some pallets are treated with the toxic chemical methyl bromide, which is released into the air when burned. Furthermore, some pallets are exposed to other toxic chemicals during their use, which is particularly common in commercial and industrial applications. While not all wooden pallets contain these toxins, it’s best to err on the side of caution by not burning them in your fire pit.
Inexpensive furniture is often made with particle board or chipboard. You should NOT attempt to burn these materials, however. Particle board and chipboard is held together with high-strength adhesive. And conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that it’s a bad idea to burn adhesives such as this.
Pressure-treated wood is a big no-no for fire pits. When used in the construction of a home or building, lumber is often treated with harsh chemicals like arsenic and chromate, making it resistant to pests and fungi. Known as CCA treatment, this process involves the application of some 27 grams of arsenic for every 12-foot 2×6 piece of lumber. Aside from the serious health risks, it’s illegal to burn pressure-treated wood in all 50 states.
If you live near the ocean, you may stumble upon some driftwood, assuming it’s okay to burn in a fire pit. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), though, driftwood releases toxic chemicals when burned. If it came from an ocean (not a freshwater lake), it may also release salt when burned, which can lead to corrosion. Leave the driftwood on the shore and stick with natural, locally sourced firewood for your fire pit instead.
It may sound like harmless enough, but you should avoid burning magazines or other paper with printed ink in a fire pit. The paper itself typically isn’t necessarily harmful. Rather, the ink — when burned — releases harmful chemicals into the environment.
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