The warm, romantic crackle of a fireplace is a part of the cooler months many people look forward to. The fireplace brings holiday comfort for many people, but it can also be dangerous if not used properly. Although it may be tempting to simply discard trash into the fire and watch it burn away, you should never burn anything other than properly seasoned wood in the fireplace. Small pieces of trash that burn easily may seem harmless, but come with hidden consequences. Here are 11 things that should never be burned in your fireplace.

Treated Wood

If you have some wood lying around from your latest home improvement project, don’t throw it in the fireplace. Painted or treated wood is full of synthetic chemicals that can have harmful effects when burned. Not only will treated wood release toxic substances into the air, it can also do a lot of damage to your fireplace. The only wood you should burn is properly seasoned, dry firewood.

 Wet Wood

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, wood with a moisture content above 20% should not be burned. Wet wood creates more smoke than seasoned wood, which leads to more creosote buildup. The more creosote buildup a chimney system has, the more likely it will be to cause a chimney fire.


Cardboard can contain harmful chemicals, especially if there is any type of printed design on it. Although it may seem harmless, cardboard, like many of these other materials, can release toxic chemicals into the air.


Don’t burn any trash in your fireplace. Trash tossed into the fireplace can contain paper, cardboard, plastic, and other materials that can cause damage to your fireplace. It is always best to dispose of trash properly to avoid any dangerous chemicals from being burned and released into your home.


Like many of the other items on this list, plastic contains chemicals that can be toxic. When plastic is burned, these chemicals are released into the air, which can lead to health problems.


Many types of paper are chemically treated, especially if there is any kind of printed design on it. Another reason paper is dangerous to burn is because embers can float out of the fireplace, causing anything flammable to ignite.

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees should never be burned in the fireplace because they contain sap and tar. Additionally, Christmas trees are full of wet wood that can cause excessive smoke.

Christmas Decorations

Christmas decorations are made with lots of synthetic chemicals that release harmful fumes when burned. Even “natural” decorations such as wreaths are often treated with materials that can become toxic when burned.

Wrapping Paper

During the holidays, when the floors are littered with wrapping paper, it may be tempting to throw it in the fire. However, wrapping paper often has printed designs that are made with toxic materials. Also, the paper itself is typically coated in chemical treatments.


Don’t use accelerants or fire starters in your fireplace. Accelerants like lighter fluid can cause large flare ups that can easily ignite any surrounding objects.

Dryer Lint

You may have heard that dryer lint makes a good fire starter. The truth is that dryer lint should never be burned in your fireplace. Most clothing nowadays contains synthetic material. This material is picked up in lint when your clothes are dried, and can produce harmful fumes when burned.


While throwing trash in the fire may seem like a quick way to dispose of it, it can be extremely dangerous. Burning materials other than seasoned wood in your fireplace can lead to health hazards and a buildup of creosote in your fireplace and chimney. If you have burned any of these materials in your fireplace, schedule a chimney sweep and inspection. Our chimney sweeps can clear away buildup and ensure that your chimney system is operating properly.