what kind of wood is toxic for firewood

There are a few types of wood toxic in the United States and Canada. Kind of toxic wood that burns, such as Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, contain urushiol and can cause severe allergic reactions in those who contact the sap.

Wood from the Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is toxic and should never be used in a fireplace.

Other toxic woods include cedar elm (Ulmus glabra), cypress (Taxodium distichum), and white pine (Pinus strobus).

In a nutshell, most woods are not toxic. There are just a few types of wood that are capable of causing severe burns to the eyes, nose, and throat. Cedar is one of these plants.

Poisons wood to avoid for firewood

Some of the woods you don’t want to burn in your fireplace have the word “poison” in their names. They’re all made of poisonous plants such as poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak should all be avoided.

It can be harrowing for people to touch these plants because they make chemicals that cause a rash. Don’t burn anything that says “poison.”

In this case, things with poison in the name get burned. An oil that can be irritating comes out of them and into the air.

Mexican elder

Mexican elder is one of the most dangerous trees in the southern United States. When the wood and leaves of Mexican Elder are burned, cyanide is sent into the air. And It should never be burned.

Even after the wood has dried out, cyanide will be released into the air, causing cyanide poisoning if inhaled.

Poison sumac

can cause severe skin reactions.

Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix) is a shrub that has sharp, spiny leaves. It has a high concentration of the toxic oil urushiol.

Poison sumac is one of the most common plants that can cause a severe rash if touched. It is not recommended to burn poison sumac.

The poison oak

Poison oak (Acer rubrum) is a species of a maple tree. It can produce a toxic oil called urushiol.

The leaves of poison oak have a shiny, smooth, green surface. The tree has two to four pairs of leaflets.

Burning poison oak can let its toxins into the air, which can harm you or other people downwind by causing them to get on their skin or clothes or making them breathe in the fumes.

People may not notice poison oak because it looks like a normal oak. It’s even more difficult to tell when it’s been stripped of leaves and berries.

Hemlock tree

Even though hemlock is a coniferous tree, the wood is tough to split, burns horribly, and generates many sparks.

Even though hemlock is a coniferous tree, the wood is tough to split, burns horribly, and generates many sparks. Hemlock is not good for burning in a fireplace because it produces a lot of smoke.

Hemlock trees have been used as a symbol of death since ancient times. Hemlock is toxic. It is deadly to humans and animals.

In addition, it is an invasive species in North America. It is a native of Europe, Asia, and Australia. It is also an invasive species in the United States.

Manchineel Tree

There are many places where the manchineel trees can be found, but it is mostly found in Florida in the United States.

It can also be found in Mexico, Central America, northern South America, and The Bahamas.

Manchineel is a tree known as the “butter tree.” It has large, broad, glossy green leaves.

People who consume the Manchineel tree’s leaves and bark may get skin blisters due to consumption.

The sap might even harm your car’s paint, which is due to the sticky nature of the sap.

It’s not good to breathe or use wood from a Manchineel tree for any reason, so don’t do that.


Oleander thrives in warm areas and is harmful in all forms. Don’t burn it, and don’t use a branch to toast it. Oleander trees are attractive yet poisonous.

It is one of the most dangerous garden plants and is frequently cultivated as a shrub. Toxin oleandrin comes out of oleander and can hurt your heart, lungs, and brain.

It is also known as Nerium. Humans and animals feel its toxicity. The plant’s consumption can influence the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and neurological systems.

Keep away from it, don’t burn food on it, and don’t inhale its smoke. Oleander is a hazardous plant that should be avoided at all costs. One leaf from these bushes may kill an adult.

Burning it doesn’t help either. This plant emits chemicals that can harm any living thing around the fire, and this is also not a plant to cook on.

Mango Wood is Toxic to Burn

If this one surprises you, you are not alone. Many people enjoy burning fruit tree wood for fuel. Sorry, but mango wood is not suitable for burning.

While wood from fruit trees is commonly sought after for firewood, the mango tree is hazardous and should not be used.

Urushiol is an allergen found in mango leaves and sap. It’s found in poison ivy and bee stings. Inhaling smoke from a burned mango tree causes respiratory issues, which can have long-term consequences on one’s health.

Brushwood is allergenic, and it produces allergens

When you burn this kind of brushwood, you can imagine how bad it is for your skin and health because it causes allergies. You should never do this.

They also have urushiol, and the air will be highly hazardous. They are known to trigger severe allergic reactions, which are highly detrimental to one’s health.

Types of wood not to use in a fireplace Indoors

There are more things to think about when you start a fire inside. Indoors, there is less ventilation, and you are more likely to get sick from fumes and smoke.

Beyond the hazardous woods, you should not burn inside. There’s more to consider.

Ensure the stove or fireplace area is clear before lighting a fire. This is easy to prevent, but it can be dangerous.


People should never burn green or fresh wood. Inefficient: It’s a waste of time and money before getting to the bad parts. The heat from the fire will slowly boil the water and sap in the wood.

The smoke and creosote in your chimney will be horrible if you burn still greenwood; it could make your room smell bad if you use wood that smokes too much.

To get the best firewood for a fireplace, you should use wood that has been dried out.

When you buy green wood, you should ask about the drying process, the wood storage, and how long the wood has been in the store, and if you can, check the pack of wood. If you see sap, it’s not a good sign.

The most important thing is that the wood dries out fully when curing wood. A lot less smoke comes out because of this.

Why don’t we want our wood to have great moisture?

Because the combustion we’ll have in our fireplace will be incomplete, and the gas residues would be very toxic.

The Carbon Monoxide ( and more ) would be at the highest levels, making the atmosphere dangerous and harmful for all.

Large wood

Wood that is too wide for your fireplace or fire pit is not good for making firewood. You must chop or split any wood bigger than 5 inches across before you can use it. The effort is good for exercise, but it’s a huge hassle if you want a quickfire.

If your firewood won’t fit in your firepit, fireplace, or campfire, it isn’t safe for you to use.

When this wood burns down, its weight can change so that embers or even a piece of burning wood fall out of the fire area, making it dangerous.

It would be best to split or cut wood more than 6 inches wide.

Christmas Trees

Many saps are found in Christmas trees and evergreens, which are flammable and can clog your chimney.

Fires may start in the chimney because Christmas trees are full of sap that burns quickly and pops.

Dry pine needles can also be dangerous because they often float above the fire because of the heat. It is even more dangerous in places like a house because pine needles in the air could start a fire.

Soft Wood and Coniferous trees

To start a fire or build a fireplace, you should avoid using softwoods. Softwoods should not be used if you want your fire to burn for an extended period.

It is good to start a fire with a softwood like pine or cedar, but they aren’t very good at keeping it going for long.

Softwood has more resin than hardwood, giving off a thicker, darker smoke than hardwood. This smoke can quickly fill your room and clog your chimney.

Many coniferous trees have ” softwood,” which burns quickly, leaves few coals, and makes a lot of smoke.

The softer the wood, the more smoke it makes, especially if it hasn’t been fully cured.

These trees are called “softwoods.” They include Douglas fir, European spruce, Lodgepole pine, Scots pine, Southern yellow pine, Western red cedar, Eastern white pine, Parana pine, Western hemlock, and other types of trees.

Rotten trees and wood that has rotted or molded

This means wood that has turned rotten is likely to have done so because it has been wet. Burning wood with more water will have the same problems as burning greenwood.

An old fire will make a lot of smoke and fumes, blocking your chimney and making your room smell bad. Rotted wood can also be full of fungus or other things that can be very harmful when burned.

The mold is created by moisture – fluids – temperature and climate switching, and bad conditions for the wood.

Mold attracts wood bugs and fungi. If you burn it, toxicity is inevitable. It risks inhaling the spores or transferring them to your food while the wood burns.

Before starting a fire, always check your wood to make sure it’s dry and clear of insects or mold, and then start the fire.

Creosote Wood

Burning creosote wood is bad for you and should be avoided.

Even though you don’t want it, it makes your chimney look bad because it looks corrosive and flammable.

The inside of your chimney is not where you want to rust or catch fire.

Resinous wood

Like pines and other conifers, Resinous woods can be very appealing to burn, and they can make a good fire. These woods are easy to find and break into pieces that can be burned.

When these logs burn, small pockets of flammable resin can happen to the surface. These resin pockets can spit for a long time.

Ensure you don’t touch this hot resin because you could get burned.

Resinous smoke can get stuck inside your chimney and stay until it is burned off, so It can be flammable until then.

Make sure your fire is hot enough to burn off the resin. This is because resin fires, usually made of wood, don’t burn very hot.

Sassafras Wood

Sassafras wood is safe to use for fires, and it’s also very easy to split and dries quickly.

It’s good for making fires, but you should be careful. Using this wood will make it pop and spew all the time, so you should cover it with glass.

Russian Olive Wood

The wood from the Russian Olive tree is safe to burn, but it doesn’t smell good. A lot of smoke comes out of this wood if it isn’t scorched.

It takes more than a year for the wood to dry out completely. If you need firewood, it’s not likely to be the first thing that comes to mind.

Other Types Of wood that toxic to burn

Many people have a fireplace at home, but some are afraid to use their fireplaces because of the potential danger. It is best to know what materials are safe for burning in your fireplace.

If there are no safety issues with your fireplace, you may even want to use it during the winter months.

Do you want to utilize your new wood stove or fire pit? Remember that not all wood burns well.

Furniture wood is toxic for firewood

Most woods used to build furniture are not harmful; however, furniture is not intended to be burned. “Dangerous” wood is defined as wood that should not be burned.

Chemicals are frequently employed in the production of manufactured wood. Certain producers also apply a chemical treatment to the wood to protect it from termites, but this is not always done.

Furniture wood has been treated with glues, dyes, and pesticides that can be dangerous if inhaled, so it is not recommended that you touch or breathe in the wood.

Painted, coated, or stained wood

Wood painted or stained may contain poisonous chemicals released when the wood is burned and are hazardous to your health.

Wood that has been processed or coated for use in construction is more likely to contain a higher concentration of toxins than untreated wood.

Processed wood, such as plywood and chipboard that has been glued together, is also extremely hazardous. These glues include harmful compounds that might cause immediate health issues if inhaled.

Varnishing wood makes it smoke more than it would without. This smoke will be much more toxic. Also, don’t fire painted wood. Older lead-based paints should also not be burned.

Wood Pallets

Avoid using your fireplace to burn wood pallets. Pesticides and preservatives are frequently used to treat wood pallets before they are used as shipping pallets.

Inhalation of these compounds is exceedingly hazardous, so burning wood pallets is not recommended. Repurposing old wooden pallets is a great way to reuse the wood.

Trash Wood

It’s a bad idea to burn waste wood in your fireplace, just like it’s terrible to burn cardboard in your fireplace.

Toxic chemicals will be released into the air when we burn trash wood, which is not good for our health.

You can find a wide range of uses for the wood in the trash. Table scraps, cereal boxes, egg crates, wrappers, and so on are all included in this category.

Pressure Treated Wood

Wood that has been pressure treated has dangerous chemicals, like arsenic, that can hurt you.

Toxins can be released when pressure-treated wood is burned, and even a small amount of ash can be lethal to some people.

Because pressure-treated wood is dangerous, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers it hazardous waste.

When those chemicals are burned, they can cause discomfort, shortness of breath, and lung damage in certain people. It is preferable to dispose of the wood in a landfill or recycle it rather than burning it.

Plywood, particleboard, or chipboard

Inexpensive furnishings are frequently constructed of particleboard, also known as chipboard, which is held together with high-performance adhesive.

When this glue is heated, it emits toxic smoke hazardous to your health and well-being. A free or for sale sign on the curb will help you get rid of unwanted furniture.

On the other hand, plywood should not be burned in your fireplace. The layers of sheet material are bonded together to form a single unit.

Impregnation method wood

We mostly use the impregnation method and other methods when we want to protect our wood from outdoor conditions.

The preservatives, several kinds of chemicals, salts, petroleum derivatives, tar, etc., are extremely toxic.

They produce very “strange” and unusual smoke, and for sure, it isn’t good for your respiratory system. The flame they produce is blue, orange, and very dark black, caused by the chemicals.

All these are very bad for you and the atmosphere of course.

Construction wood

The wood boards they used for helpers and other things have been through everything you can think of. at work in the building field

They’ve been outside in all the weather. They may have all the chemicals in a construction area, like paint, varnish, acids, solvents, and petrol, on top of them and inside their bodies, like sand.

They have rust inside from the nails and screws. Even if you take the pin, the rust is still there.

They have a strong possibility of being moldy and rot. Avoid burning construction wood for the fireplace, for sure.

Wood pulp

Wood pulp is made of several kinds of wood and is a manufactured one. It is the basic ingredient of paper and cardboard products.

The wood pulp consists of fibrous materials like wood, cotton, jute, grasses, and straw that are chemically treated and mechanically processed to become paper.

All this is combined with chemicals and produces more “cheap” paper and wood products, so don’t burn this kind of wood, and its smoke will be toxic and unhealthy.


Burning driftwood that has been salt-soaked is not a good idea because it can release toxic or harmful chemicals when burned, the EPA says.

When you burn driftwood, you’ll get beautiful blue and lavender flames, but it’s not a good idea to use it in your fireplace.

Don’t burn driftwood in your fireplace. Instead, use it as a piece of decor in your home.

You can use neither driftwood from the ocean nor wood from a source of fresh water can be used for fires.

It is perilous to burn driftwood from the ocean in a closed space like a cabin, and there are stringent rules against it.

Other material that is toxic when burned

There is so much material that you might know is harmful when burned in your fireplace, so use your common sense.

Toxic materials to burn in fireplaces include paper products, metals, plastics, and some household items. Do not attempt to burn anything with these materials in the fireplace.

You don’t need to search whether these materials are harmful or not. Below is the list of fabrics that are mostly known as very bad and poisonous when you put them on your fireplace.


Never use lighter fluid or kerosene to ignite a fire in your home. There are a variety of reasons why this isn’t a good idea.

They frequently contain methanol and other petroleum-based compounds that emit poisonous fumes and are highly combustible.

They should never be burned in a fireplace since the smoke they produce is exceptionally harmful. The chemicals they contain are typically used to paint, polish, repair, protect, and varnish wood.


Burning plastic in your fireplace? Do not burn plastic in your fireplace. For starters, it emits harmful gases and nasty black smoke. Plastic will not entirely burn, leaving a mess in your fireplace.

Not recommended for use in a fireplace. Many plastics are recyclable. Consult your local recycling center. You may recycle your plastic milk jugs or coke bottles or throw them away.

Paper & Magazines

Anyone who has ever tried to light up the paper and watch it take off in the air will understand. If you use your fireplace to burn paper without a screen, this is what will happen to you.

Using paper is a risk since it can go through your chimney and ignite a fire outside. Burning paper in a fireplace should only be done with extreme caution.

One approach to reducing the number of fireballs is to twist your paper before lighting it tightly.

As is true with burning paper in a fireplace, the most dangerous aspect of burning magazines is the ink printed on the pages of the magazines themselves. When the ink is burned in your home, it releases potentially hazardous substances into the air.


The styrofoam in your house is likely to be a lot more than you need. There are a lot of vegetables that come on a styrofoam tray that you have to throw away. It will make a gas that can hurt the nervous system if you burn it, so be careful.

It doesn’t burn very well. Instead, it burns with a black sooty flame. It’s better to keep it as packing material for a future package or find a way to get rid of it, like giving it to a craft shop in your town.


There is much more heat in coal than in wood, so using coal in your fireplace could be dangerous.

Many carbon monoxide is released when coal is burned, which could be bad for you or your family.

If you plan to use coal to heat your home, you need to buy a coal fireplace.


While fireplaces are intended to burn wood, we tend to use them as a garbage can and toss everything in them.

Artificial substances in cardboard might cause dangerous gases to be released into the air if it is burned. Avoid burning cardboard in your fireplace if at all possible.

Clothes and other things

In your fireplace or wood burner, don’t put clothes or cloth in there and burn them. It will not only smell bad, but clothes will also make a lot of smoke and soot that will end up in the chimney.

Wood that is not toxic but not recommended to burn

Most of the woods in the United States are safe to burn and cook on, so that’s good.

Below is a list of wood you still need to consider before using it for the fireplace.

Vitex Wood

Vitex is a hardwood that has a good burn quality. Although there have been no studies demonstrating that burning vitex is harmful, you should use caution.

Some people develop skin allergies to the plant due to touching it. It might have a possibility that the smoke will exacerbate these symptoms.

Yew Wood

It is uncommon to find yew in large quantities, making it a less popular fuel source.

Even though this hardwood burns hot and well, it should not be used for food preparation.

Toxicity can be caused by ingesting the bark, leaves, or seeds of the plant.

Cranberry Wood

There is no evidence that cranberry wood is dangerous or toxic to burn. There are a lot of small shrubs that can cause allergic reactions in some people, so you should be careful.

Certain Deciduous Trees

Specific deciduous trees, such as willow, aspen, and basswood, do not burn well and provide little heat. Thus, while they are somewhat safe to burn in a survival situation, they are not useful for much else.

Wood for habitat

It’s beneficial and ethical to refrain from using wood for our fireplaces because it is essential for the existence of animals that are either smaller or larger in stature.

Nature is our wide home, and we should do everything to ensure that it is safe and healthy for future generations to live in and enjoy.

As a result, avoid burning this type of wood in your fireplaces whenever possible.

Endangered wood

In North America, more than 20+ species of natural trees are threatened with extinction.

Some of the most endangered trees are the Maple Leaf Oak, American chestnut, Florida Yew, Blue ash, Fraser Fir, and Kentucky Coffee tree.

Burning endangered trees is prohibited, not because the trees are harmful, but because it is not permitted by law.

Non-Local wood

Burning endangered wood isn’t dangerous to you, but it’s not good to do. Check if any species might be at risk in your area, and don’t cut or burn them.

Wood that is not from the area can bring in pests and diseases that aren’t good for the area. When you move wood even a few miles, it can significantly affect the ecosystem.

If you buy firewood, only buy wood from your area.

To avoid introducing non-native pests to the area, never bring wood from home when you go camping. These pests can spread and do damage to the environment.

When you buy wood from outside your area and stack and store it on your land, it gives them a perfect chance to damage more forests and trees.

By buying local wood, you can be sure that nothing harmful will be brought into your trees.

Hardwood or softwood for burning in your fireplace?

Hardwood is a type of more dense wood, like oak or cherry. Because this wood is thicker, it takes more heat to start it.

Hardwood is good for keeping fires going longer and making coals that can be used to cook food at a high temperature. However, hardwood takes a long time to dry after being cut.

A wood called softwood is not as dense as a wood called hardwood. Softwood is safe to burn and often better to start a fire than a wood called hardwood.

They often have a lot of resin in them, which can spit out of the fire. It also tends to smoke more and hold more liquid than hardwoods.


So be a little picky when choosing what to burn in your fireplace. You don’t want to cause a chimney fire or release harmful toxins into the air for you and your family to breathe. Just because it’s free wood doesn’t make it a great and healthy heat source.

How do you know which wood to burn? Keep an eye on the fire before you add any more logs. There are health risks from inhaling smoke and the air pollution from burning wood.

Avoid breathing in smoke from a campfire, chimney, or fire pit. Make sure you’re far enough so you can get some fresh air.

Scroll to Top