Many people have a love/hate relationship with pinewood. It’s widely available and quick-growing, but it also causes problems as it’s a sappy softwood. Because of this, it doesn’t last long when used as a building material. So, what is it good for? At the very least, can it be burned? I did some research to find out more.
Pinewood can be burned in a fireplace if it’s properly dried (seasoned) for at least 6-12 months. For best results, use a moisture meter to ensure it’s under 20% moisture content. Avoid burning pine that’s unseasoned or treated.
While pine doesn’t burn as long as hardwoods, they season much faster and are quick to ignite. But what else should you know before burning pinewood? Let’s take a look at some more details.
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Can You Burn Pinewood Indoors (Is It Safe)?
Pinewood generates heat quickly and lights easily. You may have used pinewood for campfires because of its crackling ambiance and quick-lighting wood, but it’s also okay to burn in your fireplace with a few important precautions.
As a softwood, pine makes an ideal fire starter because of its higher sap density, but this also means your fire is going to be burning at a quicker rate than it would with hardwood. More sap can also generate more smoke in your home.
Now unless you want that campfire smoke effect in your home, it is important to purchase seasoned wood with at least 20% or lower moisture content to have better control of its burn and smoke rate.
Properly seasoned pinewood takes six months to a year to fully dry out and is highly recommended if you plan on using pinewood indoors.
Recommended: The 10 Fastest Ways to Season Firewood
Also, consider burning hardwood with pine to keep the fire strong.
Hardwoods like oak and apple are used for steady burns but are tougher to ignite versus softwood such as pine. Mixing both soft and hardwood can create an excellent balance of the two to create a long and warm burning fire. This will make for better fire management and a better bang for your buck.
Pinewood’s smokey nature is known to produce creosote in chimneys, but can still be burned safely with a few safety measurements in place.
First, it is worth noting that every wood creates creosote when burned and studies have found that lower temperature burns and unseasoned wood are behind the buildup of creosote, not so much pinewood’s resin levels.
If you use poorly seasoned pinewood, your fire is going to burn significantly slower and smokier, creating more creosote. This is why I say it’s important to use seasoned pine with 20% or less moisture content!
The higher the moisture content, the more likely your wood is to burn uncleanly creating more smoke in your home. Lower moisture content allows pinewood to ignite and burn cleanly and significantly reduce the amount of smoke it lets off.
Creosote won’t have negative effects as long as you clean it regularly and effectively from your chimney to ensure proper ventilation of your fire. A good rule is to have the chimney cleaned once a year.
A build-up of creosote can block proper ventilation and create a living area that will require professional attention. It becomes a fire hazard if left unclean for too long, and as much as we are trying to build a fire, we are also trying to prevent one from spreading.
Can You Burn Pine Needles or Pine Cones?
Pine needles can be burned in your fireplace but due to their flammability and fast burn rate, they work best as a fire starter.
Speaking of, check out these easy fire starters.
Since they’re easy to light, it is safer to bundle pine needles together instead of spreading them through-out your fireplace. This will ensure your fire does not spread outside of the main burn area.
To do so, use thread to wrap around a handful of pine needles and place them under or near the end of your firewood.
Pine cones make another great fire starter. Pine cones are naturally smokier than the wood you may be burning, so use seasoned pine cones that have been dried for six months to a year.
You can pick the smaller pieces off of the pine cones and create a small ignition pile under your firewood, or use the whole pine cone as a fire enhancer.
There are also fun DIY projects such as dipping the pine cone in beeswax to increase its burn rate, as well as generate colorful flames.
What Kind of Wood Cannot Be Burned in a Fireplace?
While most wood is flammable and can produce heat, not all wood can or should be burned inside a fireplace. Certain wood can have negative effects when inhaled, while others can be too flammable to be burned indoors.
The main types of wood to avoid burning indoors are:
- Green or unseasoned wood
- Christmas trees
- Poisonous wood
- Stained or painted wood
Greenwood and unseasoned wood are known to create an excessive amount of smoke and will result in a larger amount of creosote buildup in your chimney.
While all wood produces varying amounts of creosote, the sap on Christmas trees are rich in creosote and highly flammable. The dry needles can burn easily and create embers that gravitate up increasing your chances of a chimney fire.
Another one to keep in mind when purchasing wood is dioxin. Dioxin is a pollutant that is largely produced from burning driftwood, making it not suitable for your fireplace despite the colorful flames it can produce.
All poisonous wood derived from any poisonous plants should be avoided as well. Oleander trees fall under the poisonous category and should never be burned.
Wood sourced from furniture is often held together with adhesives or other artificial material that shouldn’t be inhaled.
Plywood for example often uses glue to hold the sheet material together, but when burned it creates an abundance of smoke. Similarly painted or stained wood should be left unburned because of the paint fumes.
Pressure-treated lumber and wood pallets are both treated with chemicals to prevent weathering and insect infestation making it highly unsafe for fireplace burning.
The best thing to do with the listed wood above is to take it to a landfill or get crafty and DIY a project out of it.
If your pinewood has been seasoned for at least 6-12 months, it’s safe to burn in your fireplace. However, if it’s green or treated, avoid burning it. Also, avoid burning plywood, pallets, and the other woods mentioned above.
To be extra safe, ask your firewood supplier how long the pinewood has been seasoned and any other questions you might have. If you’re finding that it’s too smoky, consider storing it in a dry place and letting it season for a while longer.
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
- Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10