Can You Burn Rotten Wood

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Wood has been used as fuel since the beginning of human history. Wood is naturally renewable and replenishes fairly quickly if used responsibly. But what happens when wood goes bad? Can you burn rotten wood? Yes, it is possible to burn rotten wood. However, wood that has been exposed for too long can also be in such a state that it becomes unsuitable for burning. 

It’s important to check that the wood wasn’t previously treated with a chemical preservative. If so, this will leave dangerous chemicals in the fire, which could cause severe health problems if inhaled. Chemicals can also taint your food when cooking over an open flame if the wood or fuel is used for this purpose.

Rotten wood may also be home to insects. If you burn wood that has insects in it, these will be released into the air along with the smoke. So, while you can technically burn rotten wood, it’s not always the best idea. If you have no other choice, take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety.

Can you burn rotten wood or not? 

However, there are some precautions you must take before attempting to use such fuel in your fireplace or campfire.

Having wood stores will help you keep your home warm during the winter, but it can be a big waste if the wood is too rotten. If you’re unsure if your stored firewood is good enough to burn, some telltale signs indicate whether or not your wood is still good enough for burning:

– Wood that has been kept outside for one season will generally be ideally suited for burning. However, two seasons without proper protection from the elements can make wood go bad. 

– Wood that has been exposed to dampness and moisture will also be unsuitable for firewood. This kind of rotting often produces an unpleasant odor as well. 

– Discoloration and visible mold on the surface of your firewood are also signs that the wood is now unsuitable for burning. 

Fireplace in the Forest | burning rotten wood

What the professionals think about rotten firewood 

Those who deal with wood regularly, such as professional landscapers, will likely have come across rotten wood. We asked one of our experts what they thought about using rotten wood as fuel:

“Rotten wood can be used as fuel, but it’s not ideal. The wood won’t burn as well.” – Steve, Landscaper.

Those who sell firewood may also be able to offer some advice on whether or not rotten wood is suitable for use. We spoke with a local hardware store owner about their recommendations:

“If the wood is still dry and doesn’t have any mold, then it’s probably okay to burn. However, if there’s dampness or visible mold, I would recommend avoiding using that wood as fuel.” – Michelle, Hardware Store Owner.

As you can see, while it’s possible to burn rotten wood, this is not necessarily a wise choice. If you’re unsure about the condition of your firewood, always consult with a professional before deciding whether or not to use it as fuel. In general, fresh and properly-stored firewood will generally provide the best results. But if you’re in a pinch, rotten wood can work too.

Health risks of burning rotten firewood 

Mold and spores are more likely to be present in rotten firewood, which can cause serious health problems if inhaled by those who are allergic to it. Exposure to chemicals and insecticides that may have been used on the wood may also put your health at risk. 

To minimize these risks, it’s best not to use it inside or in a poorly ventilated area, and also try your best not to inhale any of the smoke and its particles. Remember, the best choice is to avoid using rotting or contaminated firewood whenever possible.

What to do with rotten firewood that you don’t burn 

If you can’t burn it, you could always use it for other purposes. Rotten wood can be used as mulch or a natural fertilizer for your garden. Just make sure to avoid using any wood that has been treated with chemicals, as this could potentially damage your plants.

You could also use rotten wood to create art projects or even kindling for your fire. As long as the wood is dry, it should still be easy to light, so add little bits of it after you have a proper fire already going with good wood. So, if you have some rotten wood lying around, don’t just throw it away – there are plenty of ways to make use of it still!


Is It Safe To Burn Rotten Wood In An Indoor Fireplace?

A few factors can make burning rotten wood in an indoor fireplace unsafe. For example, if the wood is damp or contains mold or spores, this may release harmful chemicals into the air when it’s burned, which could be harmful to anyone who inhales them. 

In addition, if your fireplace does not have good ventilation or if you have asthma or another respiratory condition, burning rotten firewood may cause problems such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Therefore, if you do decide to use rotten wood in your fireplace indoors, it’s best to consult with your doctor beforehand to determine whether this is a safe option, given your particular health concerns.

What other types of wood should you not burn in your fireplace? 

You should avoid burning any type of treated wood in your fireplace. This includes wood that has been pressure-treated, painted, or stained. These chemicals can be released into the air when burned, which could harm your health. 

You should also avoid burning green wood, damp, soft, and driftwood, as this can produce a lot of smoke and cause creosote to build up in your chimney. If you decide to burn green wood, make sure to do so in a well-ventilated area and have your chimney cleaned regularly to prevent any fires.


If you’re worried about whether your stored firewood will burn properly, it’s best to test it before using it in your fireplace or woodstove. If you don’t have a spare piece of wood on hand, try splitting open one of the most rotten pieces and see if the inside is still in good condition. If the wood is too far gone, it will be crumbly and have a distinctly unpleasant odor. 

Suppose your wood passes the test; congratulations! You’ve got some good firewood on hand. Ensure to store it properly to prevent it from going bad in the future. When you’re ready to burn it, please use it responsibly.


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