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Be Careful What You Burn in Your Fireplace

As we move into the cooler fall and winter temperatures, fireplace owners are going to light up their fireplaces to keep warm. And while some people might be tempted to burn anything in their fireplaces because they need to stay warm, it’s important that they consider all of the facts before selecting the wood products they want to burn.

Wood pellets and/or corn pellets can only be burned in pellet stoves.  These stoves require that the pellets are fed slowly feed into the flames. It is not recommended to throw logs into airtight woodstoves or fireplace inserts - unless you leave the doors open, which lets heat escape defeats the purpose.

From an environmentally-safe point of view, while older fireplaces aren’t as green as more modern heating appliances, by adding an insert, the fireplace's heating efficiency will be increased from near-zero to the 70-85 percent. If you don’t plan on adding an insert, you can still do what’s best for the planet by making responsible fire wood choices. Natural wood is considered a carbon neutral fuel which means that it has a net zero carbon footprint and burning it only releases the amount of CO2 that the tree has stored up in its lifetime. The issue isn’t the act of burning wood but burning wet wood or letting a fire smoulder which releases excess methane.

The advantage of burning firelogs is that they burn cleanly and release less ash than natural wood. Studies performed by the EPA proved that emissions from brand name artificial logs emitted 75 percent less than real wood with 80 percent less particulate matter. And because they burn longer and hotter they are more efficient.

Some firelogs are made from recycled products such as sawdust. There’s even a Java Log that’s made from recycled coffee grounds. Some of these firelogs use petroleum wax to bond the different materials together but they aren’t necessarily better for the environment because of their higher CO2 emissions and health risks. Firelogs that are safer and more eco-friendly should be made with bio-wax that contains no petroleum by products.

We recommend using Real-Fyre Gas Logs from RH Peterson Co., http://www.rhpeterson.com , which come either vented or vent-free. We carry their full line of logs. Real-Frye Gas Logs emit 100 less pounds of C02 into the environment each year. These logs are made from refractory ceramics ensuring that they retain their strength at high temperatures. They burns cleanly while protecting natural resources and reducing pollution because they aren’t held together with unsafe chemicals. Also, they’ve been known to radiate heat long after set has been turned off.

For those people that like to burn wood then they should burn dried, cut firewood with a mix of hardwoods, such as maple and oak, and softwoods, such as fir and pine. Softwoods ignite quickly and its better to use them in the early stages of the fire. Hardwoods provide a longer-lasting fire, and it’s recommended to throw them in the fireplace after preheating the chimney. Regardless if you use hardwoods or softwoods,  they both release the same heat and energy.

There are specific types of wood that you should never use in your fireplace. Painted wood contains heavy metals, such as lead, chromium and titanium and can become extremely toxic when inhaled. Plywood, particleboard, chipboard or OSB release formaldehyde, and potentially hydrochloric acid or dioxin, when burned and have been prohibited from Being incinerated in some states.  Other types of wood and materials that should be avoided include moldy wood, damp wood, allergenic plants, dryer lint, trash and driftwood

Only use only approved and appropriate fuel to burn in your fireplace or wood stove, because certain items should never be burned because they can cause health problems and harm to the environment.

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