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By Chris | November 11, 2013 - 12:17 pm - Posted in Specs & Data, Treated Wood

There’s a common question that gets batted around. The answer is simple but the reason is usually not explained well. Feel free to add your 2 cents, too, if you happen to be a chemist or treated wood pro.

Can you burn treated wood? Well, yes. You should know it is illegal in all 50 states to do so.

SHOULD You Burn Pressure Treated Wood?

NO. You should not burn pressure treated wood — ever. Again, it is illegal in all 50 states to burn pressure treated wood.

Why You SHOULD NOT Burn Treated Wood?

First, it’s illegal. If by some chance it is not illegal where you are, it probably should be. Second, the metal left in the ash is probably harmful to you or the environment in one way or another. For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on 3 chemicals commonly used to pressure treat wood.

  • CCA — Chromated Copper Arsenate — only used for commercial and marine applications now
  • MCQ — Micronized Copper Quaternary — used for residential and commercial
  • CA — Copper Azole — use for residential and commercial

The primary ingredients in these pressure treated wood chemicals are metals — copper, chromium, and arsenate (a form of arsenic, in case you were wondering). When treated wood is burned, the metals remain in the ash. Inhaling the smoke would be bad for you, too, but the main danger comes from the concentrated metals left in the ash.

All three metals are toxic to some degree. Arsenic is the worst, by far. According to this discussion string, the ash left from burning CCA treated wood is toxic enough to kill cows and deer.

Copper and chromium are also toxic but not so severely poisonous as arsenic. The human body needs some copper to function properly but too much lead to a host of issues from diarrhea and vomiting to liver failure and more. Here is a list of possible reactions to copper toxicity and some more here. Chromium poisoning appears to be pretty terrible, too.

Chromium poisoning is very rare but it is possible. Chromium is an essential nutrient in the human body and helps with how insulin regulates blood sugar levels. Too much can cause rashes, renal failure, and more.

There you have it. The short answer is DON’T BURN TREATED WOOD but the readers of LumberTalk tend to like more complete info so there you go. Here’s a post where someone posts the question about why it’s so bad to burn treated wood. The responses are aggravating because no one answers his question and only tells him to trust in knowing that it’s dangerous. You might actually feel a little sorry for “tgm1024.”

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