Check your wood is aged and dry
Always burn small pieces of aged, dry hardwood. Green or unseasoned wood contains up to 50% water, which causes fire to smoke.
When storing wood, stack it under cover in a dry ventilated area. Freshly cut wood needs to be stored for about eight to twelve months.
Bang two pieces together. You should hear a loud, hollow crack. Or, tap the wood with a key or coin. Dry wood makes a sharp resonant sound, wet wood makes a dull sound.
If buying wood to use immediately, ask your wood seller to verify the wood has been aged.
If collecting wood yourself, please be aware of where you take it from. Firewood harvesting is destroying some of our most threatened vegetation and animal habitats. Find out more about the impact of firewood collection and use and how people can continue to use firewood with as little environmental damage as possible.
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Never burn household rubbish, driftwood or treated or painted wood. It is sure to pollute the air and it can produce poisonous gases.
For example, the black part at the bottom of old telegraph poles is saturated with pesticides like creosote.
Green pine logs used for constructing garden edges and park and playground equipment are treated with copper-chrome-arsenate (CCA). These logs are safe to handle but release toxic substances when burnt.
Most old painted wood is likely to contain lead-based paint and should not be burnt.
Never burn coal or coke as they emit sulphur dioxide that can cause health problems.
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Page last updated: 18 June 2013