For many, nothing beats the warmth, beauty, and economic sense of heating with wood. A traditional and renewable fuel source, wood grows locally and is abundant in most areas. However, burning responsibly to ensure clean air both indoors and outdoors is everyone’s responsibility. Whether you’ve upgraded to an EPA-certified product or not, there are ways to ensure your woodstove or fireplace burns as clean as possible.Burning wood responsibly is about maintaining cleaner air for you, your family, and your neighbors, while protecting your ability to burn wood.
- Inspect and maintain. Each year have your wood heating system inspected by a National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified professional or by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) certified chimney sweep for proper installation, safety and efficient operation.
- Watch the smoke. If your fire is burning properly, you should only see the white transparent steam of evaporating water. As a rule, the darker the smoke, the less efficient you are operating.
- Stick to seasoned dry wood. The seasoning, or drying, process allows most of the natural moisture found in wood to evaporate, making it easier to burn. To properly season wood, split the logs as soon as possible and stack them in a dry spot for 6–18 months. Never burn garbage, plastic, foil or any kind of chemically treated or painted wood. They all produce noxious fumes that are dangerous and highly polluting. Visit EPA’s Burn Wise for more resources.
- Burn smarter. Soft and hard woods burn differently. Use soft woods, like poplar or pine, to start a fire as they burn quickly or to create shorter burning fires. And, use hard woods, such as oak, maple or fir, for sustained heat as they create longer burning fires.
- Be Certified. Most new woodburning appliances sold in the U.S. are required to be certified by the U.S. If you own a hearth product installed before 1992, it may be time to consider an upgrade to cleaner air indoors and out. Unsure if you’re EPA-certified? EPA-certified wood-burning hearth products have an EPA-certified label on their back or side. Learn more about updating your home as part of a woodstove changeout program.