Can You Burn Treated Wood

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Pressure-treating wood is the process of treating lumber to make it more resistant to decay, insects, etc. It is commonly used for outdoor structures such as decks and benches, but some wonder if treated wood can be burned in a fireplace or woodstove. Can you safely burn treated wood?

There is little risk of exposing yourself or your family to dangerous chemicals when burning pressure-treated wood. That’s because the chemicals are applied only on the surface of the boards; they don’t penetrate all the way through the wood. 

However, we do not recommend burning pressure-treated wood in your fireplace or woodstove. The chemicals used to treat the lumber can release harmful fumes when burned, and they can also be corrosive to metal parts in your chimney or stove. 

What is Pressure-Treated Wood? 

Companies that manufacture pressure-treated lumber have been using a chemical called CCA (chromated copper arsenate) to treat wood since the 1950s. 

This type of wood is often used when building decks, swimming pools, or other structures that are exposed to constant moisture. 

When treated wood burns, toxic fumes, and chemicals can be released into the air. While there has been some debate about whether treated wood can cause cancer or other health problems, you should generally avoid burning this material whenever possible.  

If you do need to burn treated wood for any reason, make sure you follow all safety precautions and take steps to minimize the number of harmful chemicals released into the environment.

Chemicals in Treated Wood 

Many chemicals such as arsenic, chromium, and copper can be found in treated wood; when this type of wood burns, these chemicals are released into the air and can have negative effects on human health.  Some studies have suggested that burning treated wood may cause lung cancer or increase the risk of heart disease due to exposure to toxic fumes.

A Safer Alternative 

The best way to minimize your exposure to harmful chemicals is by not burning treated wood whenever possible. If you must burn this material, always follow safety guidelines and take steps to contain any hazardous fumes that may be produced.

Do not breathe in smoke from burning treated wood, and avoid getting ashes on your skin or in your eyes.

If you do notice any unusual symptoms after working with treated wood, consult your doctor right away. There are also a number of safer alternatives available on the market today, including composite and natural wood alternatives that are not treated with chemicals.

Consider switching to one of these materials if you do need to burn treated wood in the future.

Why is Burning Pressure-Treated Wood Not Safe? 

Burning pressure-treated wood can be hazardous, as it can release toxic fumes and harmful chemicals into the air. These chemicals may negatively impact human health, including an increased risk of cancer or other severe conditions.

To minimize your exposure to these substances, it is best to avoid burning pressure-treated wood whenever possible. 

If you must burn this material, make sure you follow all safety precautions and use protective gear such as masks and gloves when working with it.

Additionally, try to contain any hazardous fumes that are released by properly disposing of them or using a ventilation system that will filter out these toxins before they become airborne.

If you experience any adverse effects after working with treated wood, consult your doctor right away for further guidance.

What Happens if You Accidentally Burn Pressure-Treated Wood 

If you accidentally burn pressure-treated wood, it is important to take action immediately to minimize your exposure to the harmful chemicals that are released into the air.

And If possible, move away from the area where the burning is taking place and avoid breathing in any smoke or fumes. If you have come in contact with any ashes, wash them off with soap and water as soon as possible.

It is also good to seek medical attention if you begin to experience any unusual symptoms after being exposed to treated wood smoke or fumes. These may include difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing, or wheezing. In some cases, burns or rashes may also develop on the skin.

If you have any concerns about your health, consult a medical professional right away.

How to Identify Treated Wood 

Usually, treated wood can be identified by its lighter color compared to other types of wood. Additionally, it may have a distinct chemical smell when burned or cut. In some cases, it may have a slight olive-green tint.

You may also find tiny holes or incisions on the surface of the wood, which is where the chemicals were injected.

If you are unsure whether or not a piece of wood has been treated, it is always best to err on the side of caution and assume that it has as most lumbar before 2004 was treated with chromated copper arsenate. So, if in doubt, avoid using or burning this material. There are many safer alternatives available.

Also Read: How Can You Tell if Wood Is Pressure Treated

How to Get Rid of Pressure-Treated Wood 

Getting rid of pressure-treated wood can be challenging, as it is not safe to burn or compost. One option is to dispose of it in your regular household trash, but you should always check with your local government first to make sure that there are no restrictions on doing so.

Another alternative is to try donating the treated wood to a local charity or organization, such as a home improvement store or construction company. Alternatively, if the material is still in relatively good condition, consider trying to sell it online or at a yard sale.

In any case, taking steps to properly dispose of pressure-treated wood will help minimize your exposure and protect both yourself and the environment from potential harm.

Store in specialized bins

If you have the space, try storing any pressure-treated wood in a specialized bin or container that is designed to block out harmful chemicals.

This will help protect you and your family from exposure while also preventing the toxic substances from leaking into the environment. You can purchase these bins online or at most home improvement stores.

Call a junk removal service.

Another option is to contact a professional junk removal service to come and pick up the treated wood for you. This is generally more expensive than disposing of it yourself, but it can be worth it if you don’t have the time or ability to do so.

Coordinate with your local landfill 

If you have treated wood that you need to get rid of, one option is to take it to a local dump or landfill. Most of these facilities have special bins designated for hazardous materials. This is the safest and most environmentally-friendly way to get rid of pressure-treated wood.


Can you burn 20-year-old treated wood? 

No, you should not burn 20-year-old treated wood as it may release harmful chemicals into the air. If you must get rid of it, try disposing of it in your regular household trash or contacting a professional junk removal service.

Any wood that was treated with chromated copper arsenate before 2004 should not be burned, and arsenic is known to be a human carcinogen. If you are unsure whether or not a piece of wood has been treated, it is always best to be cautious and assume that it may have been. 

How toxic is pressure-treated wood? 

The chemicals used in pressure-treated wood are toxic and can cause a variety of negative health effects, including difficulty breathing, chest pain, coughing, or wheezing. You should avoid burning or composting treated wood to reduce your exposure to these chemicals. 

Just some of these chemicals, to name a few, are Chromated copper arsenate, Creosote, and Pentachlorophenol. These have all been linked to an increased risk of cancer and have been known to be present in treated wood for up to 20 years. 

Is pressure-treated wood illegal? 

No, treated wood is not illegal. However, you should always exercise caution when handling or burning pressure-treated wood to minimize your risk of exposure to any harmful chemicals it may contain. There are also specific regulations in place for the disposal of these materials. 

If you have any questions about the safety of treated wood, be sure to consult with a doctor or other medical professional. Additionally, you can look up information on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website or contact your local government for more details.


Pressure-treated wood is a type of material that has been treated with chemicals to make it more resistant to damage and decay. While this can be an effective way to prolong the life of your wood, it also poses some risks, as these chemicals may be toxic and harmful to human health. 

To minimize your exposure to these chemicals, you should avoid burning or composting pressure-treated wood, store it in specialized bins, and coordinate with your local landfill or government for proper disposal.

Additionally, if you have any questions about the safety of treated wood, it is always best to consult with a medical professional for advice.


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