Wood is a popular choice when it comes to heating your home or enjoying a cozy campfire. However, not all wood is created equal, and some types can be hazardous when burned. One such type is pressure-treated wood. In this article, we'll explore what pressure-treated wood is, why it's unsafe to burn, and how to differentiate it from other types of wood.
What is Pressure-Treated Wood?
Pressure-treated wood is a common building material for outdoor structures like decks, fences, and playground equipment. It's called "pressure-treated" because it undergoes a unique preservation process. This process involves placing the wood in a chamber and using pressure to force a preservative solution deep into the wood fibers.
The preservatives in pressure-treated wood are chromated copper arsenate (CCA), copper azole, or alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ). These chemicals protect the wood from rot, insects, and decay, making it suitable for outdoor use in damp or insect-prone environments.
Pressure-Treated Wood vs. Traditional Wood
Pressure-treated wood differs from traditional, untreated wood in several ways. While untreated wood is a natural and eco-friendly material, it is susceptible to decay and insect damage when exposed to the elements. On the other hand, pressure-treated wood is chemically altered to resist these threats, making it more durable for outdoor applications.
The treatment process gives pressure-treated wood a distinct appearance. It often has a greenish or brownish tint, resulting from the preservatives penetrating the wood fibers. This coloration is one way to identify pressure-treated wood.
Why Pressure-Treated Wood is Not Safe to Burn
Burning pressure-treated wood is strongly discouraged due to its potential health hazards. When pressure-treated wood is burned, the chemicals used in its preservation process are released into the air as toxic fumes. Inhaling these fumes can be harmful and may lead to serious health issues.
The chemicals in pressure-treated wood, such as arsenic, chromium, and copper, are known to be toxic when inhaled or ingested. They can cause symptoms ranging from nausea and vomiting to more severe health problems, including lung and liver damage. Prolonged exposure to these toxins can have long-term health consequences.
Furthermore, the ash produced from burning pressure-treated wood can also be hazardous. It contains concentrated chemicals and should not be handled or used in gardening, as it may contaminate soil and water sources.
How to Tell if Wood is Pressure Treated
Identifying pressure-treated wood is crucial to avoid accidentally burning it. Here are some methods to help you determine whether a piece of wood is pressure-treated:
- Color: Pressure-treated wood often has a distinct greenish or brownish tint due to the chemicals used in the treatment process. However, the color may fade, so it's not the only indicator.
- End Tag: Look for an end tag or stamp on the wood. Pressure-treated wood is usually labeled with information about the type of treatment and the intended use. These tags can be found on the cut ends of the wood.
- Texture: Pressure-treated wood may have a slightly rougher surface than untreated wood, although this can be subtle.
- Odor: Pressure-treated wood may have a distinctive chemical odor, significantly when freshly cut. However, this method is less reliable, as the odor can dissipate over time.
Only Burn Wood That You Know Isn't Pressure Treated
It is crucial never to burn pressure-treated wood. The chemicals used in its treatment process can release toxic fumes when burned, posing severe health risks. To ensure your family's and the environment's safety, always use untreated, natural wood for burning in fireplaces, stoves, or campfires.
Corrin Kiln Dried Firewood Co. is your trusted source if you need high-quality firewood for burning or cooking. We offer premium, safe, and safe firewood for all your heating and culinary needs. Contact us today to elevate your fires and enjoy the warmth and comfort of natural wood without the risks associated with pressure-treated wood. You can place your order online or call us at 302-656-6077. Remember that we offer free delivery within 20 miles of 19801, with only $3 per additional mile. Stay safe and warm!