What to Burn in Your Firebox

Now that you know how to distinguish one firebox from another, it can be helpful to know what you should and shouldn’t burn in your firebox. Burning wood creates the most natural and cozy feeling with its crackling sound and beautiful fiery colors, but there are other options for you to consider and others to set aside.

Building a Fire in Pre-Fab Metal and Masonry Fireboxes

Old World Stoneworks Capri Cast Stone Mantel Firebox Fireplace

OWS Capri Cast Stone Mantel

Whether your pre-fab metal firebox uses natural gas, propane gas, is electric or wood-burning, there are certain best practices to abide by.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finds that building an effective fire requires good firewood and good fire building practices, including burning only dry, well-seasoned wood that has been split properly. They also suggest that you season wood outdoors through the summer for at least 6 months before burning it. To start a fire, use newspaper and dry kindling.

The EPA also suggests that you never burn these items in your fireplace:

  • Household garbage or cardboard.
  • Plastics, foam and colored ink.
  • Coated, painted or pressure-treated wood.
  • Driftwood, plywood, particle board or any wood with glue on it.
  • Wet, rotted, and moldy wood.

It is also important to consider what burning certain elements can do to your chimney. For example, will burning a certain wood type lead to creosote buildup? MyChimney reported that damage was most commonly a result of low-temperature fires. They also find that while pine does contain more sap than other types of wood, this is no longer considered to be a cause of creosote buildup in chimneys. Wood that does cause problems though is burning green wood or burning fires at low-temperatures.

This Old House also suggests not burning things like Christmas trees, pizza boxes and other materials which can flare up fast and cause a fire in a dirty chimney.

What have you found to be the most effective source of heat? What do you choose to burn in your firebox?