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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

DEP Promotes the Safe and Efficient Use of Firewood      

As oil prices continue to rise, homeowners are turning to alternative energy sources to keep household expenses down and to utilize "greener" energy options. Outdoor wood boilers to heat household water, swimming pools and greenhouses have become a popular choice in addition to wood burning stoves. Although wood is a renewable local forest product and an economical source of energy, wood burning does cause air pollution.

One alternative is to upgrade wood burning stoves and boilers to a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -certified wood stove or to use and EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace insert. These alternatives reduce air pollution and are more energy efficient. Compared to the new stoves, the old stoves produce 150 times more pollution.


If burning wood is your option of choice, whether for heating your home or enjoying an outdoor fire, there are some "Burn Wood Right" tips that you can follow which will help reduce pollution and protect the health and safety of you and those around you.

  • Season wood outdoors through the hot, dry summer for at least 6 months before burning it. Properly seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.
  • Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood or green (unseasoned) logs.
  • Start fires with clean newspaper and dry kindling.
  • Burn hot, bright fires. A smoldering fire is not a safe or efficient fire.
  • Avoid wood fires in hot weather when air pollution is generally higher.
  • Never burn household garbage or cardboard. Plastics and the colored ink on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn coated, painted, pressure-treated wood, plywood, particleboard, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Check the local air quality at www.nj.gov/dep/airmon prior to burning wood. If the air quality in your area is poor, consider other heating alternatives.

One program DEP offers to those who burn wood as a heating and energy alternative is the Homeowner Firewood Program. This program provides the dual benefit of offering you the opportunity to obtain wood from New Jersey's state forests at a low cost ($20/cord) while also helping the NJ Forest Service to better manage the forests. Visit www.njparksandforests.org/forest/firewood.pdf for more information on this program.

Remember to burn wood smartly by following the tips above. These tips and other information on wood burning can be found by visiting DEP's Web page at www.nj.gov/dep/baqp/woodburning.html.


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P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: April 16, 2009