There are two probable explanations for why you’re reading this. You need firewood and are thinking of using plywood, or you, like me, are looking for a way to dispose of old plywood scraps and are considering burning them. What you’re really asking is, “Can plywood be burned?”
The poisonous gases and toxins released by burning plywood are reason enough to avoid doing so. Plywood may be combustible, but it doesn’t make good firewood because of its other drawbacks. It is lawful to burn in most places, and can be done so in modest quantities in the open.
See if the old plywood you plan to burn qualifies for disposal via burning by reading the information provided in the section about plywood treatment. Plywood isn’t suitable for use in a fireplace, in case you were wondering.
However, firewood is still required, and this essay provides five considerations to make when purchasing firewood.
Can Plywood Be Used As Firewood?
If you’re a woodworker like me, you probably have a lot of scraps piling up in your garage. I have often wondered if it is safe to use plywood as firewood, as I have burned a lot of it in our outdoor firepit. Old, unfinished wood may be fine for the fireplace, but you shouldn’t use it for anything else in your home without first checking for chemicals and plywood in your finished furniture and cabinets.
It is not recommended to burn plywood since it includes glues that can produce toxic vapours when burned. Plywood is made out of wood fibres and other materials like adhesive and preservatives, despite its wooden appearance. Burning the fibres has no negative effects, but burning the adhesives releases hazardous fumes.
Some individuals get rid of their plywood by burning it in tiny batches outside, but they don’t hang out in that area because of the harmful odours. You don’t burn wood in the fireplace to get rid of it; rather, you want long-lasting wood so that you can burn it to generate heat.
It just so happens that I also stockpile a great deal of MDF offcuts. Whether or not MDF can be burned is a key question. If you want to know the truth, read my article.
You’ll need to keep yourself near the hearth if you want to achieve that effect. Since most fireplaces are found indoors, being a safe distance away from the vent will not prevent you from inhaling harmful glue fumes. The significant health concern of breathing in hazardous vapours from burning plywood is overshadowed by a secondary impact.
In case you weren’t aware, you can actually use firewood for other projects. You may read all about it in my essay.
However, when plywood is burned, an unusual flame is produced that leaves streaks on nearby surfaces. In addition to leaving a sticky residue at the bottom of the fireplace, burning plywood also coats the interior with a purplish coat of condensed fibre glue, which has been documented by several homeowners.
Is It Okay To Burn Plywood Scraps?
Plywood is rarely burned in place of firewood, but rather to eliminate leftovers before they accumulate to the point where they require disposal in a landfill, which can be costly. No doubt about it, this approach is inexpensive, but it’s also not good for the health of the planet or the people using it.
Due to the presence of potentially harmful gases from the plywood board’s non-wood components, it is generally not acceptable to burn plywood scraps. Burning plywood outside is typically against the rules in most municipalities. Waste plywood can be disposed of in a number of ways, including recycling, upcycling, and landfilling.
Nonetheless, untreated plywood is an obvious deviation from this norm. Because untreated plywood contains less glue and resin, the idea of working with it is less repulsive.
Since “scraps” might be interpreted in a variety of ways, you’ll need to apply your best judgement in this context. If you can envision small in terms of scraps and wide in terms of the burning space, you just might get away with it.
Your plywood may be mistreated if
The substance is flammable in low doses.
If you have any remaining pieces of untreated plywood, you can safely burn them. Please do not burn them in a closed space or near an open flame. Burning little scraps of untreated plywood won’t raise eyebrows or spark a dispute with the neighbours.
Should I avoid burning plywood?
We can observe that the plywood’s adhesives make it a poor fire material.
But if you burn more plywood than is safe, your neighbours will start coughing and asking questions. Thankfully, the majority of the population is unable of distinguishing between plywood and hardwood. However, it’s not a good idea to burn plywood remnants in your backyard. Use a wide, uncultivated field as the bonfire site instead.
Keep in mind that following additional safety measures when burning plywood does not negate the need for following the other standard wood-burning requirements. There should be nothing flammable within a ten-foot radius of the fire at all time. In addition, keep the fire clear of anything that could catch fire, such as grass, leaves, or branches.
Therefore, working with wood in the fresh air may be very rewarding.
As a last step, observe your surroundings. It’s not a good idea to burn anything outside in the open in dry, tinder-dry places like California, where forest fires are a common occurrence. Playing with fire is always a risky game, especially in states with extensive forest coverage.
What Wood Should You Not Burn?
In the interest of fire prevention, let’s look beyond plywood at other forms of wood that should never be burned. If you want a short response, consider this: any wood that isn’t entirely wood. However, this category includes a wide variety of hardwoods and planks.
Polished and sealed wood
Whether it’s a missing table leg or a hacked-up bed frame, flammability is reduced if the piece of furniture is even somewhat water-proof. Toxic smoke is produced when fire interacts with the filmy coating on the surface of the furniture. Burning old furniture outside is safe even if it is made of polished or sealed wood because the fumes aren’t nearly as intense as they would be if the wood were untreated.
Epoxy coated wood
Burning weather-treated wood outside is acceptable, but doing so inside is not. Why? When wood is burned, the amount of smoke released is proportional to the amount of non-wood particles on or within the wood.
When compared to burning sealed and polished wood, the hazardous vapours produced by burning epoxy-coated wood are substantially higher, making it unsafe to burn even in the open air. In addition, unlike water, epoxy does not evaporate or release gas when heated, making it ideal for use in a wood stove. For this reason, burning wood leaves behind an epoxy residue that is difficult to clean up.
At this point, you might be hesitant to light a fire using wood that has been treated with chemicals or polished to look nice. Chopping down trees for your own firewood is the polar opposite of this. If the wood you’re working with has been covered by vines, it will still give off harmful gases when burned, so this isn’t a foolproof solution either. The 100% wood rule stands regardless of whether the “non-wood” stuff is organic or not; the wood is still unfit for structural use if it contains anything other than wood.
Take poison ivy (or any other “poison” wood) as an illustration. When a vine is burned with a piece of wood, urushiol is produced. That’s a potentially dangerous oil, as even a trace amount can irritate the lungs and make it hard to breathe.
Once the vines have been completely removed from a piece of wood, it may be safe to burn the wood outside. As long as the individuals around the wood keep their distance, the urushiol concentration won’t be a problem. However, if the vine is still entangled in the wood, it cannot be burned, not even outside. Only after totally cutting away the vine can it be considered secure.
However, even after the vine has been removed, the wood still has enough of its essence that burning it inside will fill the space with an intolerable amount of urushiol.
MDF or Particle Board
Hardwood that has been stripped of its vines can be burned without risk, while most man-made wood products cannot. MDF and particle boards, which aren’t even really wood, are at the pinnacle of the processing pyramid. The general public often confuses them with plywood, although professionals no longer use that name because it implies multiple layers, which is not the case. Particle board, can it be burned? Read my entire piece for the solution.
Instead of having distinct layers like 2-ply or 3-ply, fine fibres are used in MDF and particle boards. A large quantity of sawdust, instead, has been compacted into a block and held together with epoxy or other adhesives. As their cousins in the plywood family tree, these boards have adhesives.
To learn if MDF is flammable, read my detailed post.
Will MDF burn?
In some ways, burning regular hardwood core plywood can be just as troublesome as burning MDF. There is a lot more glue used to bind the fibres of MDF and Particle Board together because there aren’t any wood layers involved in their creation.
A single sheet of MDF was burned.
That’s like setting fire to five sheets of Plywood.
In the same way that burning MDF is a horrible idea, I can’t recommend doing so with plywood. Plywood may have a lower concentration of problematic adhesive than other building materials, but it is still too high to be used as kindling. However, because to the lesser volume, it is acceptable to burn small pieces in the open, so long as the plywood has not been treated.
What Wood Should You Not Burn In A Fire Pit?
There are two primary goals when lighting a fire using wood. The first is to eliminate wood, while the second is to convert wood into energy. Creating a fire for pleasure and warmth is about the only practical use for burning wood since that petroleum and solar electricity have mostly eliminated the necessity for it. To avoid any health problems, you shouldn’t burn any kind of wood outside in your fire pit.
There are some types of wood that should never be burned:
Resin or epoxy-coated wood that has been laminated
MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) (Medium Density Fibreboard)
Ivy-Encrusted Planks of Polished Wood
Whether or not plywood burns
However, there is more to consider than just fuel type when planning a fire pit. If you want to keep your bank account healthy as well as your body, you should be careful about the wood you use for your campfire. Don’t waste your time using wood that won’t last.
The environmental impact of burning various types of wood should also be taken into account. Because of this, I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 types of wood that should never be used in an open flame appliance.
5 Things To Look Out For When Getting Firewood
Wet wood won’t light, and even if you manage to get a fire going, it will burn poorly and produce a lot of smoke. For further reading about wetting plywood, click here.
When burned, softwood produces a dense, smokey flame that can leave residue on nearby surfaces and on persons.
Fuel that has been exposed to water and is rotting, while it may be tempting to use your wrecked furniture for, makes for lousy firewood.
Wood infested with mould should not be burned, and you should do the same if you see any mould on a piece of wood. You can’t tell if the mould and fungus that are undetectable to the naked eye have settled on the adjoining clear wood. When this kind of wood is burned, it creates air pollution. The information in this post will shed light on the topic of mould in household furnishings.
If you’re looking for firewood, avoid anything that’s been treated, as this is considered “mistreated” wood. It’s best to use untreated wood because it’s the purest form available and isn’t as likely to have been artificially preserved or polished, both of which could be harmful if burned.
Is Untreated Plywood Safe To Burn?
As I wrapped out my list of the 5 worst kinds of wood to burn, I mentioned treated wood as the final and most troublesome option. Does the absence of treatment render plywood fireproof, if treatment prevents it from being used to create firewood?
To burn untreated plywood, especially in a fireplace, is dangerous. However, smaller pieces of untreated plywood can be burned safely so long as you keep your distance. Although, untreated plywood should be recycled rather than burned.
My Final Thoughts
Plywood is a composite material made of wood fibres, adhesive, and chemicals that are harmful if burned. Pure hardwood should be chosen, while treated logs should be avoided. Take care to avoid these 5 pitfalls when searching for firewood.
It must not be made of softwood.
See if the wood has been treated chemically Make sure there is no decay
See to it that the wood is dry and in good condition.
If you suspect mould, make sure to inspect thoroughly. If you’re looking for firewood, mouldy