Wood burning stoves can add a cozy ambiance to any home as well as significantly contribute to reduced fuel costs, but you can't burn just anything in them. In fact, some items may pose a threat to human health and safety when tossed into a wood burning stove and ignited. Following are six things that should never be put into a wood burning stove.
Magazines, catalogs, and newspaper advertising inserts are all perfect examples of the type of glossy paper that you should never burn in your wood stove. This paper includes dyes, paints, and other chemicals that may release toxic fumes into the atmosphere when burned. Plain black and white newspaper can be safely used in wood stoves as fire starter if necessary, but many people prefer to use commercial products specifically designed for use as fire starter.
Wet firewood will smolder, smoke, and create creosote deposits on the interior of your chimney. Creosote is formed when smoke condenses and is a highly flammable substance. If you have been burning wet wood in your stove, you should have your chimney cleaned by a professional service as soon as possible. Always purchase well-seasoned firewood or be prepared to season it yourself by keeping it in a dry, well-ventilated location for a minimum of six months for softwoods such as fir and pine and eighteen months for hardwoods such as ash, oak, and maple.
- The moisture content in your wood should be less than 20 percent. Small devices designed to test the moisture content of wood are available at home and garden retailers.
- Store your wood in an area that provides protection from overhead precipitation. If you don't have woodshed or other appropriate wood storage area, you can easily and quickly make one by staking four wooden poles around your woodpile and attaching a weatherproof blue tarp to them.
- Storing your firewood off the ground will also help keep it dry.
Many people who are new to wood stoves may not realize that burning old, broken wooden furniture can result in toxic chemicals being released into the atmosphere. Even if the furniture isn't painted, it may have been varnished at one point, or it may have been made from pressure treated wood.
Those who live by the beach are often tempted to collect driftwood as a source of free fuel, but this is not advised due to the fact that driftwood contains significant salt content. Salt is a corrosive substance that releases toxic fumes when burned. Fresh water driftwood can safely be used in household wood stoves. However, because it can contain large amounts of gravel and silt, be careful when cutting it -- silt and gravel can ruin the blades on your saw.
Logs Made From Wax and Sawdust
You've probably seen these available at home and garden retailers. While these products are perfectly fine for use in open fireplaces, they were not designed to be burned in enclosed wood heating appliances such as wood stoves or fireplace inserts. However, logs made from 100 percent compressed sawdust are safe to use in your wood stove. Be sure to check labels carefully because these items closely resembles one another.
Although it may be tempting to dispose of fallen leaves, twigs, and small branches by including them in your wood stove fire, this is another practice that can result in toxins being released into the air, particularly if you use fertilizers or pesticides in your outdoor living space. Leaves, clippings, twigs, and other garden waste may also contain substantial mold and mildew spores while others, such as pine or fir needles, may contain resins that cause them to be highly flammable.
For more information, contact a local fireplace installation company, like Alpine Fireplaces.