Earth Gauge Tip of the Week: Burn Wisely

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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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.

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

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