There's nothing cozier than curling up near a wood stove or fireplace on a cold winter day, but... are you sure that you are burning your wood safely and responsibly?

gaz fireplaceWhen the right techniques are not used, burning wood can release pollutants into the air we breathe. The smoke from one family's fireplace can seep into a neighbour's house through small leaks around doors and windows. For people with allergies or lung diseases like asthma or emphysema, wood smoke can cause serious health consequences.

Wood smoke has been identified by Environment Canada as a significant source of winter air pollution. Burning wood in a conventional fireplace simply to watch the fire may be pleasant, but is polluting. Inefficient wood stoves and fireplaces can be a fire hazard. Dark or smelly smoke drifting from your chimney means wood is not burning completely.

If you wish to replace your fireplace or wood-stove:

  • Gas, pellet and electric devices are excellent ecological choices.
  • The City of Beaconsfield also allows the replacement of existing wood-burning equipment with wood-burning equipment recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (US Environmental protection Agency, or EPA), provided that the emission rate of the equipment does not exceed 2.5 grams per hour of fine particles in the atmosphere (By-law BEAC-046, article 3.2.5).

Here are some tips on burning wisely:
Burn only clean, well seasoned wood that has been split and dried properly; don't burn garbage, plastics, particleboard, plywood or any other painted or treated wood, these release toxic chemicals and can cause a build-up of creosote;

If your fire smoulders, split the wood into smaller pieces and use more pieces each time you load;

Never turn the air control down so much that the fire smoulders. Wood should be flaming brightly until it is reduced to charcoal.

As you learn to burn without smoke, check your chimney frequently for visible smoke. If you see smoke, change your fuel or burning practices so that no smoke is visible while the stove or fireplace is in operation.

For more information, see the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks website