Burning Trash and Paper in Your Fireplace: Is it Safe?

Fireplaces add a comfortable and fashionable touch to any Indianapolis home. Your fireplace is the centerpiece for family gatherings and cozy nights, and will help keep your home toasty warm throughout the winter. Safe fireplace operation is critical for the health of your fireplace, home, and family. It may be incredibly tempting to simply toss trash or paper into your fireplace for easy disposal, but it is not recommended to do so. In this post, we explain why is not safe to burn trash or paper in your fireplace.

Why Not To Burn Garbage In Your Fireplace

Burning garbage in your fireplace is not safe. Most trash, including recyclable plastics, contain harsh chemicals. When you burn the trash, the chemicals transform into hazardous flames. By putting trash in your fireplace, you expose your family as well as wildlife outside to these chemicals. Dioxin is a toxic chemical released from burning plastic, and it contributes to the risk of headaches, respiratory problems, internal organ damage and some cancers.

The Danger of Burning Paper in Your Fireplace

You should also never put colored/dyed paper, cardboard, or magazine paper in your fireplace. Colored paper and the glossy paper found in magazines also release toxins when burned. Colorful pages contain chemical pigments that turn toxic when burned, and cardboard is also often treated with chemicals. Additionally, paper burns incredibly fast and can produce flames that shoot up and ignite creosote in your chimney, making it a flue fire risk. Pieces of burned paper may also float out of your chimney and pose a fire hazard to the roof or nearby surroundings.

While you should generally not burn paper, it is acceptable to use a small amount of tightly rolled, plain black-and-white newspaper as kindling. Make sure to place it between small bits of wood and avoid any paper with colors or gloss.

Keep Your Fires Safe

To keep your fireplace and chimney safe and functioning properly, you should avoid putting trash and paper (especially colored and glossy paper) into your fireplace. These materials contain chemicals that are toxic when burned. You may use a small amount of traditional newspaper as kindling if needed. 

Your fireplace and family are in good hands with Chimney & Masonry Outfitters. For more information and advice on fireplace, chimney, and masonry best practices, check out our blog. If you suspect your fireplace needs maintenance or repairs, or if you simply have questions about fireplace care, contact us at 317-500-1250 or via the form on our website.