What to Burn and What to Avoid Burning in Your Fireplace

Having a fireplace is different than having an outdoor bonfire or a grill. Fireplaces require specific materials to be burned, due to the fact that they are in your home with little ventilation.

There is misinformation about what can and cannot be burned, so we are here to set the record straight!



Hardwoods, such as: oak, maple, ash, and birch* are widely regarded as the best types of wood to burn in your home’s fireplace.

*Birch does have a thick inner layer of bark that can retain a lot of moisture. It’s best to mix birch with other woods rather than just on its own.

Another great option is softwoods. Softwoods are the less expensive option, but they come with downsides such as finer ash, which lead to a messier clean-up, and they burn faster. Softwoods include: fir, pine, spruce, balsam, and cedar!

Note: One of the most important factors with your wood is ensuring that it is properly “seasoned”- and no, we aren’t talking about salt and pepper! Seasoned wood means that the wood has been dried to remove as much moisture as possible.

The general rule is to use wood with no more than 20% moisture.



Items to Avoid Burning:

  • Wet Wood. Wet wood is harder to light and produces more smoke and less heat. Overall a bad experience- especially inside your home!
  • Plastic. When burned, plastic releases toxic chemicals that are not only respiratory irritants, but potentially carcinogenic.
  • Garbage. Burning garbage in your fireplace releases toxic chemicals that are harmful to inhale! Plus, it has an unpleasant odor.
  • Christmas Trees. Burning a Christmas tree in your fireplace can cause creosote deposits to ignite, resulting in a fire that can rapidly spread into your home.
  • Old Paper, wrapping paper, cardboard, and newspapers. Like much above, these release dangerous chemicals that irritate the respiratory system. Also, paper debris can float up the chimney, igniting creosote deposits.
  • Painted Wood. Painted wood releases toxic chemicals when burned.


Now that you know what to burn and what to avoid burning, the next step is making sure you burn safely! Having a properly prepared and cared-for chimney is a great way to start!

At Old Tyme Chimney Sweep, we proudly provide the greater Cape Cod area with our chimney, fireplace, and masonry services. We take pride in our work, and our reviews show just how professional and expeditious we are. To inquire about our services, call us at 508-759-0930email us, or visit our website.