Nature and Environment

Because at 160,000 years, the party is just getting started.

Add to My MSN

Earth Gauge Tip of the Week: Burn Wisely

1/9/2014 11:22:00 AM

Tags: firewood, fireplace, Earth Gauge, Washington D.C.

With frigid temperatures gripping many parts of the U.S., some people are turning to fireplaces and wood-burning stoves for warmth. It may smell good, but wood smoke can impact indoor air quality and your health. Smoke is a mixture of tiny particles and gases produced when wood burns – the fine particles can get into your eyes and lungs, where they may aggravate some health conditions like lung disease, bronchitis and asthma.

Use these “best burn practices” at home to minimize wood smoke and protect your health:Before you burn, make sure your chimney is clean. A clean chimney provides a good draft and reduces the risk of a chimney fire:

Have your chimney inspected by a professional at least once per year and regularly clean ashes from your fireplace or wood-burning stove to increase efficiency.

Only use seasoned wood for burning. Seasoned wood looks darker, has cracks in the ends and sounds hollow if smacked against another piece of wood.

Use newspaper and dry kindling to start a fire. Never use gasoline, kerosene, charcoal starter or propane.

Build hot fires, which are more safe and efficient than smoldering fires.

Never burn garbage or cardboard, coated or painted wood, particle board, plywood or wood with glue on it.  Burning these materials can release harmful chemicals into the air inside your home.

If you burn wood at home – even occasionally – install a smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector to keep you and your family safe. If you already have detectors, check the batteries to make sure they are working properly.

Burn Wisely

(Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Burn Wise: Consumers – Best Burn Practices. Read more Tips of the Week at

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Jeremy D'Herville
1/10/2014 7:39:45 PM
Got it. No coal, no natural gas. I'll insulate well, keep my clean wood burner, off-grid solar, small scale hydro, wind generator and my diesel generator. Imagine the steel we could save from less power pylons.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.