16 Types of Firewood Not To Burn (User’s Guide)

A cozy fire with a good book and some hot cocoa can chase away the chill. But what kind of firewood should you buy? There are so many different types available! This blog post is here to help you make sure that you purchase the best type for your needs.

We will discuss 16 types of firewood not to burn (user’s guide), including pine, cedar, oak, apple wood and more! You will learn about their characteristics as well as why they don’t work in certain situations.

A fire is a comforting and warming sight, but not all fires are created equal. There are some types of wood that you should never burn in your fireplace or stove because they release chemicals into the air that can be harmful to your health. This blog post will discuss 16 different types of wood commonly found in North America and Europe, as well as the risks associated with burning them.firewood


Driftwood is another term for “beach wood” which can be used to build a fire. However, it does not come in the form of pieces that you would typically imagine like logs or chunks. Driftwood often comes in long shavings and flakes which are hard to transport. It also has the disadvantage of being wet because it is often used by the sea. When it is dry, however, you can use driftwood to build an excellent bonfire that keeps all your friends warm and satisfied.

Another type of wood not to burn includes sawdust logs which are also known as pellets or compressed chips (such as waxed paper). Manufacturers pack these pieces into bags and sell them as a product that is ready to light.

Lumber scraps are another type of firewood you should avoid burning in your fireplace or wood stove. This material often contains nails and other pieces of hardware which could damage the chamber where it burns or even cause injury if they come into contact with people’s bodies. Power companies also often will not allow you to use this type of firewood for a similar reason.

Green Wood

Green wood is the best to burn in a fire. Green logs and branches take more time than seasoned or “dry” wood, so they won’t pop and crackle as much when added to your fireplace. But you can still use green wood if it’s been cut for at least six months (but not longer than a year).

Ash: green wood is good for burning in a fire because it has less smoke and makes excellent coals. It’s commonly used to heat homes, but the tree itself does not grow well near salt water. Green ash burns very hot with little flame or smoke; however, its tendency to explode when heated may make it dangerous.

Birch Wood

Green birch is good for burning in a fire because it has less smoke and makes excellent coals. It’s commonly used to heat homes, but the tree itself does not grow well near salt water. Green ash burns very hot with little flame or smoke; however, its tendency to explode when heated may make it dangerous.

Pine Wood

Pine is easy to come by and it has a pleasant smell. However, it’s not very good for cooking because sap can ruin your meal with its resin build-up. It doesn’t burn as hot or fast as other types of firewood either so you might find yourself stoking the flames more than usual if you use pine to keep yourself warm. Pine is not great to cook with, but it does make good kindling because of its low moisture content and therefore easy burning qualities.

Cedar Wood

Cedar wood is a popular choice for firewood, but it only burns well if the logs are split first. Cedar has very fibrous wood that can be difficult to ignite and burn because of its moisture content. It also produces more creosote buildup than other types of softwoods like pine or fir.

  • Moisture content is too high.
  • Difficult to ignite and burn; produces more creosote buildup than other types of softwoods like pine or fir.
  • Lasts longer than most other softwoods.
  • Produces a pleasant and fragrant aroma when burned, which some people enjoy.firewood

Douglas Fir Wood

Douglas fir trees are found in many states on the Pacific coast, as well as Canada and Alaska. Douglas fir wood is strong and durable with a moderate amount of resin that makes it easy to light up. It has an excellent reputation for burning hot and long with nice coals for cooking over.

Douglas fir is a popular choice for the fireplace and it makes excellent firewood. Fireplaces are usually made from brick or stone, so Douglas Fir wood will burn well in those circumstances as long as there’s enough space between logs. When you use Douglas Fir firewood in your fireplace, make sure to have an adequate amount of airflow and don’t pack it too tightly.

Douglas Fir firewood is also an excellent choice for wood stoves because of its hot burning capabilities. It will produce a good heat output so you can keep the stove at a comfortable temperature while your home stays warm. If you use Douglas fir to burn in your wood stove, make sure you have enough room around the firewood and that you’re using dry pieces.

Red Maple Wood

Red Maple wood does not have a very distinctive smell or fire quality, but it is easy to light. It has low BTU’s and doesn’t burn well in hotter climates because of its density. Its water content can cause problems with burning as well; there are many complaints about the smoke produced by Red Maple Wood and it can be very smoky. It is recommended to not burn Maple wood if you are looking for a good fire because it does not produce enough heat or flame.

Sweetgum Wood

Sweetgum trees are one of many types of wood not to burn. The sap found in the sweetgum tree is extremely flammable, and can cause firewood to spontaneously combust (or burst into flames). This rare type of “self-heating” occurs when it comes into contact with an open flame—and there’s no way to prevent it.

Black Walnut Wood

Black walnut is highly prized for its dark, nearly black wood. It’s an excellent choice for making fine furniture and cabinets.

See also
How to build a Square Fire Pit?

However, it is very hard to split because of its tight grain. That’s why I always recommend choosing this wood for burning in a fireplace or outdoor fire pit.

You can also use black walnut as kindling on the bottom of your fire, but only if you have something else that will burn easier above it like pine, birch or oak.

Construction and Furniture Wood

Don’t burn pressure treated wood because the chemicals are toxic to humans and animals when burned.

Wet wood will not burn well. If you have a lot of wet firewood, it’s best to add dry pieces one at a time until the fire is burning hot and quickly drying out your supply or move on to other sources for heat during extended periods of rain.

  • CARB compliant wood refers to pressure treated wood that is treated to meet California Air Resources Board’s low-emission standards.
  • It’s important not to burn painted or stained woods because the chemicals are toxic when burned and often have high moisture content, which can cause incomplete combustion of these materials leading to creosote buildup in your chimney.
  • Don’t use untreated wood from any domestic or wild animal as this can carry parasites and other diseases.
  • Don’t burn garbage, trash or yard waste because it will produce toxic chemicals when burned.
  • -Dead trees (standing deadwood) such as those killed by beetles are great for burning in outdoor fireplaces if they have not been treated with chemical fire retardants.
  • Don’t burn plywood, particle board or pressed wood because they can emit formaldehyde gas and other chemicals when burned.

Non-Local Wood

The term “local wood” is used to distinguish what you can source from local sources such as your own backyard or a nearby sawmill. Just because it comes from near doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work well in burning stoves and fireplaces, though. A few examples of non-local woods not suited for heating appliances are:

Pine from tropical areas – Pine wood produces a bitter, resinous smoke which is unpleasant to breathe. If you have ever been camping in the tropics and tried using pine for your fire, then you know how pungent its smoke can be! You really do not want that type of intense smell inside of your home, do you?

Cypress Wood

Cypress is a great wood if you happen to live in swampy areas and can easily source it. It burns very hot and lasts for hours; however, the downfall is that its smoke also has an intense smell which does not go away quickly. While cypress may burn well inside of your fireplace or stove, it is not recommended that you burn cypress inside of your living room because the smell can be overpowering. It will definitely take all of the enjoyment out of spending time with friends and family around a fire pit in your yard!

Palo Santo

This wood comes from South America where tribes use its smoke during religious ceremonies. It is very fragrant and has a lovely smell that you may fall in love with; however, there are many other types of wood which will provide great burning qualities without the intense scent. Burning this type of wood indoors can be overwhelming to some people who do not like strong smells.


Cherry is an excellent firewood to use, but only if it is very dry. If you are able to find cherry wood that has been sitting around for at least a year or two, then go ahead and burn it! However, many people have trouble finding this type of firewood because most people who cut down their own trees tend to sell them right away instead of letting them dry out.

Local woods

Of course, you can also burn wood that comes from your own property or a nearby sawmill. Many people think that because they cut down their own trees and it is coming right off of their land that the wood will be perfect to burn; however, this may not always be the case! If any tree species has been treated or sprayed with chemicals, then you may want to avoid burning it.

In addition to this, if a tree was cut down during the winter and did not have enough time to dry out before springtime arrived, then your wood will also be too wet for burning purposes. You can still use local wood that is fresh from the sawmill, but it may not burn well inside of your fireplace or stove.

Local wood that you can source from deadfall – If you are able to find fallen trees in the forest or deep within a woodland area where nobody has ever touched them before, then this type of firewood is perfect for burning purposes! Deadfall which sits for a long time can become very dry due to the lack of moisture in the ground.

Deadfall is often found on slopes or areas where it has been blown over by strong winds during storms. It may be hard to find deadfall that was not subjected to weather conditions, but if you are able to locate some then this type of wood is perfect for burning inside of stoves and fireplaces!

Just remember that if you have any questions about the types of wood which are safe to burn, then it is best to contact a local fireplace or stove dealer. They will be able to recommend certain species based on your location (for example: Alaska vs Florida), climate conditions, and type of wood stove or fireplace that you own.

Poisonous Wood

Poisonous wood is not a very common type of firewood. However, it can still cause harm and should be avoided at all costs. Poison oak and poison ivy are the most common types poisonous woods but there are many others as well that you need to watch out for Buy some from your local hardware store or home improvement center instead.

Poisonous wood is not a very common type of firewood. However, it can still cause harm and should be avoided at all costs. Poison oak and poison ivy are the most common types poisonous woods but there are many others as well that you need to watch out for Buy some from your local hardware store or home improvement center instead.

Endangered Wood

Some woods are so rare and valuable that they can no longer be used for firewood. This is the case with sandalwood, a tropical hardwood in high demand by luxury perfume makers because of its distinct scent. Sandalwood trees aren’t endangered in their native habitats in India and Sri Lanka, but taken into consideration that wood can only be harvested from living trees, and then processed by hand to ensure quality, it is an expensive wood that should not be burned.

See also
Kiln Dried Firewood (A Complete Guide)

Habitat Wood

Habitat Wood is best for burning and is the most popular. It burns hot and long, producing a bed of coals perfect for slow cooking or overnight warming in wood stoves.

It is a good choice for cooking fires, wood stoves and fireplaces.

Habitat Wood can be found on the edges of forests where trees have been harvested or died from natural causes. It typically has a moisture content under 20%. Look for areas with scant vegetation since this indicates low ground moisture. Habitat woods may also be referred to as “wood with low BTU” or simply “low energy wood.”

Rotten and Moldy Wood

This type of firewood is dangerous to burn as it can lead to serious health conditions like asthma and allergic reactions. Rotten wood also emits a chemical byproduct called creosote, which may build up in your chimney and be extremely hazardous for you and the environment.

Products Containing Wood Pulp

One of the most common types of firewood not to burn is wood pulp. Wood pulp can contain many chemicals like formaldehyde, sodium hydroxide (lye), and chlorine bleach. These are toxic when burned in your home fireplace or stove; they release harmful toxins into the air that you breathe.

  • Evergreen wood is a tree that stays green year round. They are an excellent choice for burning because they maintain their moisture content throughout the seasons and produce less smoke when burned.
  • Cherry, apple, oak, maple… these hardwoods all make great firewood choices as well because of how long they burn without losing much heat.
  • Another great type of firewood not to burn is bamboo. These have been known to emit chemicals that can cause respiratory issues when burned indoors, and they also produce a lot of ash due to their high silica content which contains carcinogens like arsenic and boron nitride.
  • Pine needles are another example of a type of firewood not to burn. This wood contains oils that can cause serious respiratory problems when burned indoors, and it also releases creosote into the air which can lead to chimney fires if you are burning this in an indoor fireplace or stove.wood

Not Wood

At All Some people burn dangerous things like:

  • Plywood, particle board and other manufactured wood products (including cardboard) release toxic chemicals when burned. Manufactured wood releases formaldehyde that is linked to cancer. It also emits benzene which damages the nervous system as well as hydrogen cyanide which can cause headaches, vomiting, dizziness and nausea.
  • Plastic releases benzene, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide when burned. It also emits styrene which causes cancer in animals as well as neurological problems like headaches, irritability and memory loss. The burning of plastic produces dioxin that is linked to birth defects, reproductive failure.
  • Rubber tires release benzene, toluene and other petroleum distillates when burned. Benzene causes cancer while styrene emission causes headaches, nausea and vomiting among others. Burning rubber also produces dioxins which cause birth defects as well as reproductive failure in animals. Apart from all these chemicals released by burning manufactured wood products and plastic, they also emit a lot of smoke that pollutes the air.
  • Coal emits carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and other harmful pollutants when burned. Inhaling these dangerous chemicals can cause cancer, respiratory problems as well as heart disease among many others.
  • In addition to not burning any wood at all, there are certain types of wood you should avoid burning. Some of these include:
  • Ironwood emits poisonous fumes that can kill humans and animals upon inhalation. These deadly toxins are hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide as well as sulfur dioxide among others. Burning ironwood releases a lot of smoke which is not only dangerous to inhaling but also causes air pollution.

Environmental Protection

One of the most important things to consider when burning wood is how good it will be for the environment. Some types of firewood are better than others because they burn hotter, longer, and cleaner. If you want your fireplace or campfire to leave as little trace as possible on Mother Nature then this list can help.

The best types of firewood are the ones that burn for a long time with little smoke. They also produce less ash, which is both more efficient and better for your fireplace or campfire.

Safety Tips

  • Keep an eye on kids and pets. Make sure they are not in the yard when burning firewood is taking place.
  • Properly store any chemicals, fuels or other combustibles away from where you will be cutting or chopping wood for your fireplace/stove.
  • Before using a chainsaw it’s a good idea to make sure it’s oiled and has a sharp chain.
  • Make sure the person operating the machine is wearing protective gear such as boots, gloves, goggles or safety glasses; no loose clothing or dangly necklaces (chainsaws can be dangerous).
  • Remember that even seasoned firewood may have bugs. If you are not sure, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid burning wood with bugs in it.
  • Make sure that your firewood is dry prior to burning it. Wet or freshly cut wood will smoke excessively, reduce heating efficiency and can result in an increase in creosote buildup inside your chimney.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure your chimney is free from clogs and heavy creosote build up.
  • Keep the area around where you are burning firewood clear of debris to prevent fires from spreading out of control.
  • Always practice safety when dealing with wood heaters or other appliances that burn wood for fuel.
  • Remember to always stack firewood off the ground and never on a combustible surface such as wood or plastic. This will help prevent insects from being inside your fuel source, avoid decay and reduce the possibility of other chemicals that can cause dangerous fumes when burned coming into contact with something flammable like gasoline containers.
  • If you are building your own firewood rack, make sure it is sturdy and cannot collapse.
  • Do not burn treated or painted wood in stoves or fireplaces that reach high temperatures (over 1000 degrees F). It can release toxic gases into the air when burned.
  • If you use a fireplace instead of an open flame to heat your house, make sure the flue is open before lighting a fire.
  • If you are burning wood in an enclosed space such as inside your fireplace or furnace room, use only seasoned hardwoods instead of softwood because they burn cleaner and release less creosote (a substance that builds up on chimney walls).
  • Never allow children to play near where you are burning firewood.
  • Make sure that the person operating a chainsaw is wearing protective gear such as boots, gloves and safety glasses at all times to avoid injury.
  • Never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start your wood fire; these substances can create dangerous fumes when burned in an enclosed space.
  • Be careful when splitting wood as this can be dangerous and lead to injury.
  • Never burn wet or freshly cut firewood in your fireplace, stove or other appliance that burns for fuel; make sure it is dry first! This will result in excessive smoke production, wasting energy because the heat escapes up the chimney instead of warming your home and can result in a build-up of creosote inside your chimney, which is highly flammable.
  • If you have a fireplace or wood stove that reaches high temperatures (over 1000 degrees F), it’s best to avoid burning treated or painted wood as this could release toxic gases into the air when burned.
  • If you stack your firewood on the ground, make sure it is raised off the surface and never on a combustible material such as wood or plastic. This helps prevent insects from crawling inside your fuel source and reduces contact with chemicals that can cause dangerous fumes when burned coming into contact with things like gasoline containers.
See also
How to make Firewood?


How often should I have my chimney cleaned?

Chimneys need to be swept at least once per year. This is especially important during the winter months when your heating system is in use most of the time. The buildup can become dangerous if it isn’t removed, so having a professional come out every few months will make sure there isn’t a problem.

I can't afford to hire someone to clean my chimney every few months; is there another way?

I forgot to have my chimney cleaned during the winter; is it too late now?

It’s never really too late, but if you want your fireplace working at its best then having a professional come out and clean it before spring will be worth the money. If you wait too long, the buildup can become dangerous and expensive to fix!

I think my chimney is clean; should I still have it swept?

Probably not. It’s a good idea to get your fireplace inspected every few years by a professional just in case there are problems that might be hard for an untrained homeowner to spot.

How do I know if my chimney is too short?

A professional should be able to tell you whether or not it’s the proper length for your fireplace by measuring both with a special tool. If they think that there may be an issue, the best thing to do would be to get it repaired.

Can I burn wood in my fireplace if there’s a crack?

No, you definitely should not try to do this because it could be dangerous and cause your house to catch on fire! If there is a crack, the best thing would be to get that fixed before trying anything else.

What’s the difference between a single wall and double wall chimney?

A double wall has two flues, one inside the other. The inner flue is for exhaust to leave your fireplace and go up through your roof; this can help prevent heat loss because it goes straight out of your house instead of going into another room.

What’s the difference between a brick fireplace and an artificial one?

Artificial fireplaces are much cheaper than real ones, but they don’t look as nice because they aren’t made of bricks or stone. If you want to go with something that looks more like what your neighbors have, it will cost much less to add one of these fireplaces instead.

Can I put a gas stove in my fireplace?

No, this won’t really work because the heat from your chimney will be enough for it! There is nothing wrong with putting a gas stove in another room; many people do that and enjoy the convenience.

What kinds of wood burn the cleanest?

Cedar, pine and other resinous woods don’t really make as much creosote buildup because they are not very dense; this makes them good choices for people who want to minimize the amount of cleaning that needs to be done after a fire each day or night.

Can I burn old furniture in my fireplace?

No, this is very dangerous because it could catch on fire and spread to your first floor! If you really want to use the wood from an old table or chair for heat, then having a professional come out with their equipment every few months will be much safer.

Is it dangerous to burn anything without a chimney?

Yes, if you don’t have the right equipment, burning any type of wood inside your house is very dangerous! It can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and even lead to fires that destroy everything. If you want heat for your home but do not have access to a fireplace or stove, there are other options available.

Can I burn pallets in my fireplace?

No! This might seem like a good idea because you can get them for free from your local hardware store, but they have been treated with chemicals that shouldn’t be burned inside your home. If you want to use reclaimed wood as firewood, do your research and make sure that it’s safe to burn.


Don’t burn any of these 16 types of firewood in your fireplace. They can be used for other purposes, such as making art or lighting a campfire. If you are looking to buy firewood online then check out our article here where we review several different places that sell dry wood!