Many people burn wood in their fireplaces at home, and some people choose to burn pine. When deciding whether or not you want to burn pine, you should consider safety issues as well as the time and cost of fireplace maintenance.
Pine wood has a lot of resin in it. As a result, it burns very hot and it crackles. When it's burning, the wood tends to spit out flaming particles, which could cause injury. The tar in pine tends to coat the inside of fireplaces. Since these properties of pine do not make it favorable for burning, there are many safety issues to consider if you want to use it for your fireplace.
The high sap content of pine wood makes it dangerous. When the sap is burned, it creates tarry smoke that can coat the inside of a fireplace, causing a possible fire hazard. The buildup of deposits left on your chimney is called creosote and it is deposited through wood smoke. It builds up naturally in your chimney, no matter which wood you burn, but it also contains tar. Large amounts of creosote can come from pine, and large amounts create conditions for a chimney fire.
Some believe that burning pine in fireplaces is safe as long as you routinely maintain your fireplace and watch your fire. Some say that the extra pine sap is like extra fuel for the fire. Indeed, it is true that a pine fire burns very hot and so it might heat a home quicker. Apart from this benefit, burning pine wood requires responsibility. Those who burn pine wood suggest that a person who burns pine should have his chimney cleaned regularly. Persons who burn pine also need to watch their fires carefully. If a fireplace has a low smoldering fire, it will cause thick smoke and a buildup of creosote. If this person owns a new clean-burning fireplace, he might be able to lessen the severity of this problem.
John Suermann of the U.S. Department of Energy has recommended that people do not burn pine in fireplaces due to safety concerns. He states that "it is not a good idea to burn pine products in your home. Pine products, due to the resin in them, burn very hot... and the pine tar in the combustion products coats the inside of the flue, leading to a potential fire hazard. In short, do not burn pine wood products in your fireplace or in the open or you are asking for big trouble."
While the government has made a strong recommendation against it, some people still burn pine in their fireplaces. Those who feel it is necessary to burn pine must heed the suggestions of those who burn it regularly. They ought to clean their chimney often and watch their fires carefully. Such recommendations should be followed when burning any type of wood.
Elle Dugan is a writer and educator. She contributes articles on culture, education and parenting to several websites and magazines. She holds a master's degree in English.