What Not to Burn in an Outdoor Firepit

fireplace.co.uk What Not to Burn in an Outdoor Firepit

Summer is here, time to light the fire pit and while-away the evening outdoors enjoying the onset of dusk and the warm nights in front of the fire pit, chimaeras or plain old fashioned open fire.

Whether it is at home in the garden, camping, or caravanning the same rules apply to fire safety and what it is safe to burn on the fire. As you will be standing or sitting around the fire you will be more susceptible to toxic fumes from plastics, treated wood such as plywood, MDF and painted woods so do not be tempted to burn the old shed, telegraph poles,blog- what to burn on fire pit-firepit and railway sleepers, or laminated woods.

You should know by now these things are bathed and impregnated with chemicals which are not just hazardous to your health and your family and guests but contain industrial compounds that when burnt release particulates into the atmosphere. Not only does burning these inappropriate materials add to the Green House Effect but certain toxin can be carried by the wind and accumulate in the soil and water course.

Avoid burning newspapers and high gloss magazines and catalogues especially if they contain a lot of coloured inks.

To stay safe try to stick to traditional firewood and untreated timbers. Of course there are good and bad woods to burn on your outdoor fire but in the main you are not so tightly governed by the rules applied to indoor fires and stoves. You do not have to worry about how sappy or resinous the wood is and you can burn the fire as hot as you like.

An outdoor fire pit does not require a lot of maintenance, there is no chimney to clean or to accumulate highly flammable blog-what to burn on a firepit-impmrto firepitcreosotes and there is no roof or thatch to catch fire.  As long as your fire is safely situated you do not have to be too concerned with stray sparks and embers or the fire spitting.

Unfortunately there is no such thing as perfect firewood and if there were it would be horrendously expensive and in such dire short supply you would be lucky to ever get your hands on it even if you could afford it. Experiment you will find different woods will suit different occasions.

If you have a bunch of friends round in desperate need of warmth or a nice roaring fire to cluster around like moths around a candle a warm blazing fire can be quickly achieved by burning well seasoned pine.

Alternatively you may want to create a softer less vigorous ambience to share a quieter, closer and more romantic moment with a loved one in which case a nice hardwood will create the necessary heat and long lasting tamer atmosphere. For more information on the burn  qualities and calorific values for different woods click the highlighted links  for hardwoods and softwoods.

Never use accelerants such as petrol, white spirits etc as they are highly combustible.  If you need something to get the outdoor fire going use barbeque charcoal lighter fluid or good old fashioned paraffin and add it before lighting the fire and never add these otherwise safer accelerants to an already lit or smouldering fire.    

Finally a little like children never leave a fire without adult supervision and let commonsense prevail….enjoy!


by Phil Cleaver


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