10 Things You Should Never Burn in Your Backyard Fire Pit
Backyard bonfires are a terrific way to gather family and friends and enjoy being together outside. Make sure you and your guests stay safe by never burning these 10 items in your backyard fire pit.
When burned, plastic releases toxic chemicals fumes (like dioxins, furans and styrene gas) into the air that are bad for you and the environment. Instead of burning the plastic, recycle it using these great recycling tips.
The whole idea of having a backyard fire pit is to create a place for friends and family to gather, relax and enjoy each other. It’s best to take a calm approach to lighting the fire, as well. If the backyard fire isn’t roaring, you may be tempted to apply an accelerant, but accelerants like gas or other flammable liquids are too unpredictable and can cause explosions. Don’t risk it. If your fire is slow to start, add more small, dry kindling.
Magazines, junk mail and colored gift wrapping paper may seem like a harmless item to burn in a backyard fire pit, but the ink printed on the paper is what can release toxic fumes when burned. Recycle magazines and junk mail instead.
It may come as a surprise, but wooden pallets are NOT a good option to fuel a fire pit. Some wood pallets are treated with a chemical called methyl bromide (labeled with the initials MB), which can be released into the air when the wood burns. Unless you know for sure that the pallet wasn’t treated with chemicals, it’s best to use something else in your fire pit. Learn about other things you shouldn’t do with wood pallets, here.
Inexpensive furniture is often made of particleboard. Burning particleboard may sound like a good idea if you have some busted furniture sitting around, but the particleboard is held together by high-strength adhesives that are often not safe to burn because they emit toxic gasses.
When wood is painted, it’s best not to burn it because it may give off toxic fumes. And if the wood is very old, you could be burning lead based paint, which would be very toxic! If you have lead paint in your home, here are some helpful tips on how to safely remove it.
Cardboard seems like an innocuous material, but that’s not always the case. One danger with cardboard is that it can cause a surge of fire that could cause injury if someone is sitting or standing too close to the backyard fire. According to the USDA Forrest Service, cardboard also releases chemicals into the air from the ink printed on the boxes. Here are 20 hacks that utilize everyday items and will make your life easier.
Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac
You might be tempted to get rid of weeds you’ve removed from your yard in your backyard fire pit. Don’t! Burning the irritant oil in the plants, called urushiol, releases fumes into the air. This can cause lung irritation and severe allergic respiratory problems. Use this guide to help identify invasive plants that can take over your yard.
Green or Soft Wood
Burning green or softwoods (pine, fire, cypress) can cause a lot of smoke that will make it unpleasant to sit around the fire. Here are our expert tips on choosing the best firewood.
Burning trash may seem like a good solution to get rid of it, but it’s one of the worst materials to burn in your backyard fire pit. According to the Enviormental Protection Agency the burning of trash releases toxins into the air and produces a lot of smoke. And, in many locations, burning trash is illegal. If you’re looking to up your fire pit game, check out these ideas.