Can You Burn Pressure Treated Wood? Option 3 Will Surprise You


What type of wood is suitable for room heating? Can You Burn Pressure Treated Wood? Let’s see.

There have been many room heating devices recently- thanks to technological advancement. Winters can be devastating if you have no source of heat for your home as it comes with extreme cold. Regardless, wood burning as a source of room heat has existed since time immemorial and still is not about to be abandoned. 

Even as you light up your fireplaces to keep warm, you need to avoid exposing yourself to chemicals through wood burning. To stay safe from wood burning poisoning, we need to find answers to this question: Can you burn pressure treated wood? 

DO NOT burn a pressure treated wood, whether the wood is old or new. Pressure-treated wood contains dissolved chemicals used during the wood’s treatment and, when inhaled, can cause different health complications like cancer.

 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’ EPA prohibits the burning of pressure treated it and goes as far as considering these materials as hazardous wastes.

What Is Pressure Treated Wood?

Image of pressure Treated Wood. So which one in the Yellawood vs Pressure Treated option?Pressure treated wood is a name given to a wood that has gone through a special process to make it more lasting and less susceptible to rot, decay, insect attack, mold, and damage by water.

There are types of pressure treatment of wood that can make them fire retardant. Different types of wood pressure treatment are designated for different projects.

Some woods are pressure treated to be used with ground contact, while others are treated for above ground contact uses.

Alkaline Copper Quat, abbreviated as ACQ, is the most common preservative used in the pressure treatment of wood. This chemical is poisonous to insects and fungi that cause rotting.

It, therefore, makes the wood less vulnerable to damages caused by insects and rot, water, and or fire. Pressure treated woods are, however, not necessarily waterproof.

Dangers of Burning Pressure Treated Wood

Disposing of a pressure treated wood through burning comes with severe health and environmental hazards. This action is prohibited by 50 states of the United States of America. Here’s why you must not burn pressure Treated Wood.

  • The other name for treated wood is CCA lumber. Where the abbreviation CCA stands for Copper, Chromium, and Arsenic. According to studies, a single 12ft x 2in x 6in board of treated wood has arsenic that can kill 250 grown-ups.
  • Burning is, in fact, the fastest way of releasing these chemicals to the environment. One tablespoon of ash of a pressure treated wood is exceptionally lethal. Arsenic, for example, is a silent killer chemical that has no taste or smell that can warn you of its presence.
  • In normal circumstances, pressure treated wood comes in a dark brown or an OD green color. Besides, it has half inch-long splits all over its surfaces. Those are the areas of injection of the treatment. Therefore if you are not sure about the wood, don’t burn it.
  • A report by the Journal of the American Medical Association on a study about the effects of burning pressure treated wood, a family used a treated wood during the winter to warm the room. After a couple of months, members of that particular family reported that their hair started falling out, they experienced crippling headaches and suffered nosebleeds.
  • In the report, the parents cited multiple instances where they blacked out for hours. The two children experienced seizures. The house plants withered and eventually died, the fish in the aquarium died as well. After examination, the symptoms linked to the small traces of ash dust that were in the house.
  • It’s encouraged to burn construction waste woods if you are looking to dispose of them. All you need to do is to double-check and ensure that the wood you are burning is pure and not treated.

How to Dispose of Pressure Treated Lumber

pressure treated wood resists firePressure treated wood is a renowned construction material for outdoor structures such as fences, furniture, porches, decks, picnic tables, flower beds, and even buildings. A plank of treated wood offers more resistance to molds, insects, and deterioration, unlike the untreated counterpart. 

Pressure treated wood can last up to five decades and even more. 

The problem creeps in once the wood is deemed of less use and require disposal. Burning pressure treated wood as a way of disposing of it is unacceptable. Here are steps on how you can dispose of your treated wood.

Store In Special Bins

Sometimes you have pressure treated wood that you don’t have a use for and also have no immediate way to dispose of them. 

You should consider keeping these woods in specially marked bins for easy identification.

Ensure that you cut all the woods before you can keep them inside the bin.

Make Arrangements With the Local Landfill

When you are not sure of the best way to get rid of your old pressure treated wood, you can always reach out to your local environmental office to help you dispose of your pressure treated wood.

Normally, the local authorities have specific landfills where you can have your unwanted pressure treated wood transported for disposal.

Sell or Give the Out for Free

Selling the treated wood as a way of disposing of it would be a viable option. If you over-estimated the pressure-treated wood you would require for your construction, you’ll remain with many extra pieces. Offer the additional fragments up for sale through advertising in the local classified adverts.

You can opt to give away some pieces of your pressure treated wood or even the whole of it if you fail to get buyers. Get a “Free” sign placed on the extra wood in your courtyard.

There are a lot of people in your neighborhood who would gladly love to take them, especially if they do not have to pay. Besides, some websites advertise free items, using such sites will help you reach out to a broader audience.

Recycle the Pressure Treated Wood

You can recycle your pressure treated wood in many different ways, for example, using it in building a separate structure for your use. According to research at Virginia Tech University’s College of Natural Resources, over 80% of used pressure treated wood is reusable.

Precautionary Tips When Handling Pressure Treated Wood

Pressure treated wood contains some toxic chemicals that you must avoid coming into contact with at all costs. Below are some preventive tips that you must keep in mind whenever you are working with treated wood.

  • Always have your gloves on while handling treated wood, wash your hands thoroughly before eating or drinking anything.
  • Always have your safety goggles together with a dust mask when sanding, drilling, or cutting pressure treated wood.
  • Cut your treated wood in an open place-outdoors.
  • Never burn treated wood.
  • Let your treated wood to dry properly before staining or painting. 
  • Drill a pilot hole before you drive in a nail or screw, this will help prevent the splitting of the wood. This practice is particularly important when you are fastening near the end of a wood.

Environmental Effects of Burning Pressure Treated Wood

As seen in this article before, the burning of pressure treated releases dangerous fumes into the environment. 

When these chemical fumes get into the atmosphere and fall back as rain, they seep into the soil and damage crops—sometimes consumed by people and animals, subjecting them to diseases.

To avoid instances where you have to dispose of pressure treated wood, you must preserve them so that it can last longer.

Some of the ways you can use to help prolong the life of your treated wood are by painting and sealing them.

Overall, it is an evil and dangerous habit to burn treated wood as it will cause air and soil pollution.

Uses of Pressure Treated Lumber

Usually, the pressure treated wood will have marks or tags showing what types of projects are bests for its use.

Additionally, the woods are graded depending on appearance. For instance, wood with fewer knots is graded higher and costs more.

Home Indoor & Outdoor Use

The pressure treated with water-based preservatives like CCA will make the best option in the home and residential areas for interior and exterior use.

The water-based chemicals in some treated wood make them best for wood decks, fences, docks, and related structures.

Heavy Duty Construction

For heavy construction projects, wood treated with creosote preservatives is the most preferred. These woods are used for the construction of bridges, guardrails, as well as docks.

It is also essential to know that oil-based preservatives are primarily used to treat lumber used in utility poles, cross arms, etc.

Another aspect you should note is the projected use of the treated wood. Will you use your wood for above ground or be in contact with the ground.

It would be great for above-ground projects if the wood is at least six inches from the ground. Besides, it’s essential to ensure that the wood has active ventilation and drainage.

When working with woods that will be making contact with the ground, you should use lumber designed to withstand the moisture that comes with the ground contact.

Wood treated for ground contact comes with twice the level of chemical retention plus protection compared to the above-ground treated wood.

Burning of pressure treated wood is and should never be an option when looking for ways to get rid of them. It begs the question, how do you dispose of pressure treated wood? 

If your pressure treated wood is no longer beneficial to any of your projects, here are some of the actions you can take to help free up your space.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Pressure Treated Wood


Advantages of Pressure Treated Wood

Here are some of the advantages that you get from using pressure treated wood: 

  • Affordability. Pressure treated woods are cheaper if you compare them with other options such as cedar, redwood, and more. 

Additionally, this wood is durable and more so if you offer it good protection. It means that you will not have to replace it any time soon; as a result, that will cut down on costs.

  • Versatility. A pressure treated wood comes with so much versatility. You can describe it as a “blank canvas” as you can easily work with it.

You can choose to paint or stain pressure treated wood; you can also choose the type of color you want over your treated wood.

It, therefore, makes a great option if you intend to match the color of an existing feature of your house. Ensure that you only paint or stain your pressure treated wood after it has dried.

  • Durability. Another enthralling aspect of pressure treated wood is its durability. Treated wood, in most cases, is more durable than many other types of wood. They are able to withstand dings, dents, scratches, as well as wear. 

These woods come with extraordinary strength that gives them a long lifespan, lasting decades under proper maintenance.

  • Easy to Repair. In case of damages to your pressure treated woods, you will find them easy and inexpensive to repair.
  • Repel Insects: Pressure treated wood has a water based chemical called Alkaline Copper Quat, abbreviated as ACQ, which offers it a high Insect repellency. 

This property puts treated wood in a position in which it can withstand attack by insects such as termites.

Disadvantages of Pressure Treated Wood

They include:

Develops Splinters and Checking. Pressure treated wood is treated natural wood. As is the case with other natural woods, it will start developing splinters as time goes by.

Normally after 6-12 months, you will likely notice that your pressure treated wood will start developing checking. Checking comes about due to alternating circles of wetting and drying of the wood. It causes drying and splitting of the wood.

Fading. Prolonged exposure of your pressure treated wood to ultraviolet radiation leads to fading.

High Maintenance Costs. In a bid to protect your treated wood from splintering, checking, fading, or rotting, you will be called upon to protect them using paints, sealers, and stains. These formulas are expensive, especially if you are working on large projects.

Additionally, you would want to carry out maintenance from time to time which will require that you dig deep into your pockets.

Chemical Risks. Pressure treated wood contains dissolved chemicals that, when poorly handled, can cause health complications.

Some of the health related problems that can come as a result of coming into contact with pressure treated wood include asthma, cancer, and many more.


We cannot overwrite the importance of wood in our daily lives. They are versatile and can be put to use in virtually all aspects of a home. Some of the most common uses of wood in a home is for making furniture, creating wooden decks, outdoor benches and above all, wood is used for heating during cold seasons.

As much as woods brings us warmth during cold seasons, it would be best that we understand types of wood that can burned in fireplaces for warmth. It therefore takes us back to the question…

Can You Burn Pressure Treated Wood?

From the discussions above, it’s conclusive that you must not burn pressure treated wood. The chemicals used in preserving these woods pose health and environmental risks if released to the surrounding through.

If you happen to be with pressure treated wood that is no longer of use to you, consider the safe ways of disposing of them. Safety means could be through waste collection agencies, dumping the woods in the landfill, offering the woods for free, and even recycling them.

As I come to the end of this post, I hope it added a lot to your understanding when pressure treated wood is involved. Do you have a question, opinion or suggestion that you would like to share? I hope so, please talk to me through the comment section below.

Don’t Burn Pressure Treated Wood, Stay Safe!

Image of a woodworker wearing hearing protectors for woodworking

Tyron Otieno

Tyron is an avid woodworker and writer. He founded this website to help other woodworkers, whether hobbyists or professionals by sharing his knowledge and experiencie after a decade of woodworking.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.