Types of Wood You Should Not Burn in Your Fireplace

Types of Wood You Should Not Burn in Your Fireplace

Whether you have a beautiful open fireplace in your home or you’re off out on an exciting outdoor camping trip into the wilds, nothing on earth beats the beauty of a real fire for warmth. What you may not have yet considered, however, is that not every piece of timber makes good fuel, and some logs are greener than others.

Let’s take a look at some types of wood that should never be burned in your fireplace:

Soft wood

Soft wood from trees like cypress, pines, or firs burns very rapidly, creates a great deal of smoke, and rapidly coats your chimney with soot. It’s OK to be used in outdoor fires, however, isn’t ideal for using within your home.

Endangered species wood

There are approximately 12 or so threatened or endangered native tree types in North America, including the Kentucky Coffee Tree, American Chestnut, and the Blue Ash. As these trees are rare, you are unlikely to ever find their branches in any batch of firewood for sale. However, if you’re collecting your own wood, it’s crucial that you don’t burn any that’s endangered.


These shrubs are completely toxic and thrive in mild, frost-free climates. This wood should never be burned or even placed near any foodstuffs.

Mexican elder

Found in the Southern States, the Mexican Elder is a semi-evergreen, and fast-growing tree that is a natural cyanide source. If you ever see one in the wild, don’t cut it down for firewood, as even breathing in the smoke can cause cyanide poisoning.

Anything Named Poison

It makes complete sense that any plant or tree that’s named “poison”, is not something that you’d want to get too close to. With this in mind, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, and Poison Ivy should never be burned as the they can release the irritant substance urushiol into the smoke, which can be life-threatening for some people.


Driftwood is saturated with salt that contains chlorine, and this can be converted into cancer-causing substances when it’s burned.

If you’re ever in doubt about what woods are safest to use in your fireplace, it’s crucial to do your research. As you’ve found out already, burning the wrong wood in your fire can be very dangerous to your health and can create creosote buildup that can lead to chimney fires.

Be sure that your homeowners insurance policy is up-to-date to offer protection from a fire in your home. For a complimentary homeowners insurance quote from us here at BOLT Insurance Agency, complete our online quote form.

Frequently asked questions around wood burning

Are there types of wood that you should only burn outdoors?

Are there endangered trees in the same way there are endangered animals?

Are there any types of wood that are dangerous to burn?

Is it safe to burn driftwood?