Because of the chemicals used during the pressurizing process, pressure-treated wood should never be burned. When burned, it emits hazardous and cancerogenic byproducts of the chemicals into the air. If you must get rid of pressure-treated wood, do so at a landfill or recycling center instead of burning it.

What Happens If You Burn Pressure Treated Wood?

It is extremely harmful to your health when you burn pressure-treated wood. It emits hazardous and cancerogenic chemicals into the air.

These chemicals can be harmful to your health if inhaled, and they can also contaminate the soil and water near where the wood is burned.

Whether you are a domestic home or commercial enterprise, if you have pressure-treated wood to get rid of, the best thing to do is take it to a landfill or recycling center.

The article link below goes into more detail on how to dispose of pressure-treated wood.

Related: Super Simple Ways How to Dispose of Old Deck Wood

How About Burning it In a Galvanised Incinerator Bin?

Still a BIG “No, no” I’m afraid.

You see, when the wood is burned in a galvanized incinerator bin, the chemicals can leach out of the wood and into the metal, making the bin unsafe to use again.

So even if you’re thinking about burning pressure-treated wood in a galvanized incinerator bin, don’t do it!

Also, the smoke and ash from burning pressure-treated wood are still released into the atmosphere and can be harmful to your health if inhaled.

So, the best thing to do with pressure-treated wood is to take it to a landfill or recycling center.

Related: How to Stop Aluminum Corrosion Caused by Pressure-Treated Wood

The Chemicals Used in the Production Process

The chemicals that are used in this process include:

  • Chromated copper arsenate (CCA)
  • Copper azole (CA)
  • Ammoniacal copper quaternary (ACQ)
  • Waterborne copper preservative (WCP)

Chromated copper arsenate (CCA)

Until 2003, chromated copper arsenate (CCA) was the most popular form of pressure-treated wood in the United States. CCA-treated wood is still used for industrial and commercial purposes.

Copper azole (CA)

Today, the most frequently used pressure-treated wood is copper azole (CA). It fights a variety of fungi and insects, including termites, carpenter ants, and marine borers.

Ammoniacal copper quaternary (ACQ)

Ammoniacal copper quaternary is a waterborne preservative that is effective against decay fungi and insects, including termites and carpenter ants.

Waterborne copper preservative (WCP)

Waterborne copper preservative (WCP) is a waterborne preservative that is effective against decay fungi and insects, including carpenter ants and termites.

Related: Can You Stain Pressure-Treated Wood? (HMMM, MAYBE?)

The Dangers of Burning Pressure-Treated Wood

When pressure-treated wood is burned, it emits hazardous chemicals into the air.

These chemicals include:

  • Arsenic
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Cadmium
  • Mercury

Arsenic

The atomic number 33 and the symbol As represent the chemical element known as Arsenic. Arsenic is a metalloid. It can exist in various forms, but only one – the gray variety – is relevant to the industry.

Chromium

The atomic number 24 and the symbol Cr represent the chemical element Chromium. In the periodic table, it is the first element of Group 6.

It is a brittle, steel-gray transition metal with a high melting point. Chromium is also used in stainless steel to enhance corrosion resistance.

Copper

The atomic number 29 and the symbol Cu represent the chemical element Copper.

Pure copper, elastic and ductile metal with excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, has a blushing orange color when freshly exposed.

Cadmium

The atomic number 48 and the symbol Cd represent the chemical element Cadmium. It has a pale, bluish-white hue.

It is chemically comparable to the two other stable metals in group 12, zinc and mercury, with the exception that it prefers oxidation state +2 in most of its compounds and has a low melting point when compared to transition metals.

Mercury

The atomic number 80 and the symbol Hg represent the chemical element, Mercury. It was formerly known as hydrargyrum (/haɪˈdrar-jər-əm/hy-DRARJ-er-am).

Mercury, which is a heavy, silvery d-block element, is the only liquid metal at standard conditions for temperature and pressure.

These chemicals can be extremely harmful to your health if inhaled.

FAQs

Can burning treated wood kill you?

No, burning treated wood won’t kill you, but it may make you sick. Inhaling the fumes from burning treated wood might cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, and difficulty breathing. In some severe cases, it may even cause lung damage if you are subjected to breathing it in over long periods of time.

What if your neighbor is burning pressure-treated wood?

If your neighbor is burning pressure-treated wood, you may want to talk to them about the risks. If they are unaware of the dangers, they may be more than happy to stop burning it once they know. You can also contact your local air quality control agency to make a complaint. Burning pressure-treated wood releases hazardous chemicals into the air.

What color smoke does pressure-treated wood produce?

Pressure-treated wood produces white smoke when burned. It will only turn black if there are other materials burning with it.

What type of smell does pressure-treated wood have?

Pressure-treated wood has a chemical smell. It may also smell like burning plastic or rubber.

How can I protect myself from the dangers of pressure-treated wood smoke?

If you must be around pressure-treated wood smoke, wear a respirator or mask to protect your lungs. You should also try to stay upwind of the smoke.

Will I get fined for burning pressure-treated wood?

It depends on your local laws and regulations. Some states and municipalities have banned the burning of pressure-treated wood altogether. Others have restrictions on when and where you can burn it. Be sure to check with your local air quality control agency to find out the rules in your area.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

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