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Fireplace Safety: What NOT to Burn in your next Fire

Updated: Jan 6, 2023

Your fireplace is the coveted spot in your home during the cold weather, offering a place of coziness, comfort, and respite on a chilly day. While it can be tempting to toss a few household items in your fireplace to get the fire going, it’s important to remember that this quick fix can have long-term health and safety consequences. Before you start your next fire, read what the pros at Admiralty Chimney say should not be burned in your fireplace.


Cardboard is often treated with chemicals that when burned can release hazardous fumes into the air that are harmful to breathe. It is also possible for burning cardboard to escape through an unscreened hearth, or float up the flue through an uncapped chimney. This is especially dangerous since any burning cardboard that enters the chimney can ignite creosote within the flue.

Colored Paper

The inks used in newspaper inserts, coupon handouts, glossy magazines and other items contain metals and pigments that release toxic fumes when burned. Like cardboard, bits of burning paper can float up and out an uncapped chimney, putting your roof and nearby structures at risk of fire.

Seasonal Decorations and Wrappings

The holidays bring with it festive decorations and wrappings that contain chemicals and coloring that can generate hazardous fumes. They are probably very light and can easily go airborne once they catch on fire.

Wet Firewood

Unseasoned, or wet, firewood can contain up to 45 percent water. Burning high-moisture content wood will smoke and lead to rapid creosote buildup in the chimney liner. Reduce the risk of buildup by burning only dry firewood and having your chimney professionally cleaned and inspected.

Christmas Trees and other Evergreen Wood

It can be tempting to cut up and burn your live Christmas tree in your fireplace. But your tree, wreath, and other evergreen woods are not safe to burn. In addition to not being properly seasoned, evergreen wood contains high levels of resin that catch fire quickly and produce a hot flame. This wood burns so fast that the fire will fizzle out quickly, and the high resin content leaves heavy creosote deposits in your chimney.


Many people have fallen into the habit of tossing a used plastic-foam cup or paper plate into an open fire. Most consumer products contain chemicals that produce hazardous fumes when burned. Toxic trash items contain plastic, which releases a category of toxins known as dioxins. When inhaled, this level of toxin can lead to major health risks, such as internal organ damage, respiratory symptoms, and headaches.

Fresh Fruit Peels

Adding scents to your fireplace delivers aromas of oranges, lemons, and apples, however fresh, moist fruit peels will smolder in a fire, and lead to abundant smoke and creosote buildup. A better course of action is to dry your fruit peels at a low temperature in the oven, and then toss them on your fire. You’ll still get the fresh scent you want, but without the moisture.

Dryer Lint

Dryer lint may be an effective campfire starter, but keep it out of your fireplace. The synthetic fibers in dryer lint can release dangerous chemical fumes into your home and chimney.

Professional Chimney Inspections

Talking with your CCP-certified chimney technician during your annual inspection is a great time to get answers to your questions. Whether it’s asking what is safe to burn or about the condition of your system, they have the expertise to provide you with the information you need to keep your home and family comfortable.

Chimney Inspection, Cleaning, Service, and Repair in NH and MA

Is it time for your chimney cleaning or inspection? Contact Admiralty Chimney’s CCP-certified technicians. We’re always ready to take special care of your fireplace system.

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