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Does Rotten Firewood Burn?

does rotten firewood burn

When burning firewood, you don’t want to use just any wood. Not every piece of wood you find, cut, or buy will be ideal for burning. While it is generally ok to burn rotten firewood, it is not recommended. Rotten wood does not burn as well as a solid piece of firewood.

If you find a rotten piece of wood, it is up to you whether or not to throw it on the fire.

This article discusses rotten firewood, how it burns differently than solid pieces of firewood, and whether or not you should burn rotten firewood.

Middle Heartwood vs. Rotten Outer Sapwood

If you are debating whether or not to burn a piece of rotten firewood, you must first determine where the rotten material is on the log.

Some trees can lay on the ground for a while without getting too rotten to burn. In this case, the outer edge of the wood, the sapwood, will become rotten while the inner heartwood remains solid. If this is the case, the wood is not completely useless. A little rotten sapwood is ok to burn on a fire.

How Do You Know if Wood Is Too Rotten to Burn?

You can tell wood is too rotten to burn if it has a soft and spongy texture, making it easy to penetrate. Another sign that wood is rotten is black fungus. Wood that is rotten will appear darker in the rotten areas.

Firewood that only has rot on the outer edge is ok to burn as long as you dry it out and burn it with other solid pieces of wood. Firewood that is entirely rotten or the inner heartwood is rotten is not ok to burn indoors.

Is It Ok to Burn Rotted Wood?

While it is ok to burn rotten firewood, it is not ideal for health reasons. Because rotten wood is less dense than solid wood, it won’t produce as much heat. Burning rotten firewood produces creosote, which can gunk up chimneys.

Burning rotten firewood also leaves an unpleasant smell and is not great for your health. It is best not to throw a rotten log onto the fire. However, a little rot on a log will not be too problematic and can still be burned.

Does Burning Rotten Wood Make You Sick?

Yes, it is possible that burning rotten wood can make you sick. Burning rotten wood produces a nasty odor and releases fungus, mold, mildew, and bacteria. These are very bad for your respiratory tract when inhaled.

You also should never burn treated wood, including wood that was treated with paint, glues, or stains.

Burning rotten wood can trigger asthma attacks and allergies and make them worse. It is also likely to give you a headache and stuffy nose.

The Outdoors
The Outdoors

When cutting firewood, you should disregard pieces that are rotten in the middle. It contains a lot of moisture because it soaks up water from the ground. This wet wood smoke will eventually cause creosote buildup if you burn it in a chimney.

Does Rotten Wood Burn Like Solid Wood?

No, rotten wood is less dense, produces fewer BTUs, and will not effectively burn. Some pieces of wood may be a little spongy. These pieces will burn slightly less effectively than solid wood, but are still ok to burn.

When buying firewood, you want to make sure it is solid. Some wood is rotten in the middle, making the log completely useless. A little rot on the edges is ok to burn, but be careful. Rotten logs release mold, mildew, and fungus into the air. It is not a good idea to burn firewood if an asthmatic person may breathe it in.

Is It Ok to Bring Rotten Wood Inside?

You should never bring rotten wood into your house. Because it has sat on the ground, it likely has insects crawling in it. Bringing rotten wood into your home increases your risk of bug infestation.

How to Prevent Firewood from Rotting

To prevent firewood from rotting, make sure your wood is not getting oxygen, moisture, or warmth. Eliminating these factors as best you can can help prevent rot.

First, make sure you store your firewood off the ground. The moisture in the soil causes wood to rot. Next, increase airflow by stacking your firewood. The best thing you can do to prevent firewood from rotting is to keep it ventilated. You can do this by drying your firewood outdoors while keeping it protected from the elements.

Another way to keep firewood from rotting is to cover your firewood with a tarp to protect it from moisture. Keeping your firewood in a three-sided shack is also a great way to keep firewood from rotting.

The easiest way to store and season your firewood is with a firewood log rack like this one by Woodhaven. Its structural integrity is very sound, and will keep your firewood off of the ground. It also comes with its own cover that will cover the top 12″ of your firewood.

Keep Your Firewood Covered

If you keep firewood outdoors, it is wise to keep it covered. Firewood that is exposed to weather will not burn as efficiently. It is also more likely to become rotten from dampness.

Rain and snow will cause the top row of your wood pile to be damp, making it harder to light or even too wet to burn safely.

How Can I Get Rid Of Rotten Firewood Without Burning It?

If you have a lot of rotten firewood but you do not want to burn it, you can chip it and use it as mulch. Another way to use rotten firewood is to let it decompose and use it in your compost pile.

You can also get rid of rotten wood by disposing of it at a landfill or a composting facility. If you own acreage or know someone who does, you can leave it in the woods. Rotten wood makes a great habitat for birds and insects as well as mammals.

What if I Have a Lot of Rotten Firewood?

There are a few ways you can use rotten firewood. If you have a large pile of rotten firewood, you can burn it outside. While burning this rotten firewood, don’t stand close enough to breathe in the smoke.

If the wood is only partly rotten, you can burn it indoors as long as you mix it with a solid, high-quality pieces of wood. You can also burn a partly rotten piece of firewood inside if you cut off the rotten pieces.

Final Thoughts

Rotten firewood will burn. However, it does not burn as effectively as solid wood. Wood that is too rotten will smell terrible and not burn as hot. It will also produce creosote, which will build up on the inside of your chimney.

You should never burn a piece of wood that is completely rotten indoors or anywhere people will be breathing it in. Rotten wood releases mildew, mold, and fungus into the air, which is harmful to our health. If you want to get rid of rotten word by burning it, burn it outdoors and don’t stand close enough to breathe in the smoke.

When a piece of wood is only rotten in parts or on the outer edge, it is ok to burn indoors. You can cut the rotten pieces off or dry the wood and burn it with solid pieces of wood. Use caution when burning rotten pieces. You don’t want harmful particles in the air to irritate those with allergies or asthma.

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