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Importance of Using Dry, Non-Treated Firewood

Importance of Using Dry, Non-Treated Firewood

Ruapehu District Council (RDC) is reminding householders using fires for heating this winter to only use dry, properly split, untreated firewood.

RDC Group Manager Community Services, Margaret Hawthorne, said that for many Ruapehu families keeping warm over winter means lighting a fire.

“Council is concerned that there is not enough awareness around the importance of using well dried firewood and the dangers of burning treated timber,” she said.

“The quality of your firewood is a major factor in how your wood burner runs.”

“Green or wet wood is a major creator of smoke that as well as creating pollution also clogs your chimney.”

“It is also important to ensure that chimneys and flues are cleaned at least once a year.”

“If the glass on the front of your wood burner is coated in ‘gunk’ it means you are not burning your fire hot enough.”

Mrs Hawthorne said that buying good quality firewood can be expensive and when families are trying to keep their home warm there can be a temptation to use whatever wood is at hand including off-cuts of treated timber from building sites.

“Most construction timber in NZ uses pinus radiata which is typically treated with toxic chemicals such as chromated copper arsenic (CCA).”

“Because of the toxicity of CCA the burning of treated timbers is banned in NZ,” she said.

“Burning treated timber releases toxic fumes into the air and poses a health risk to anyone who may breathe the contaminated air.”

Mrs Hawthorne noted that using dry, untreated wood is especially relevant in Taumarunui that is located in an ‘air shed’ which traps the pollution under an ‘inversion layer’.

“The people most at risk from smoke pollution are those with existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or bronchitis, babies and young children, diabetics and the elderly.

“In order to minimise air pollution it is important that people using fires only burn dry, untreated wood that has been split properly,” she said.

“Banking up a fire with wood and damping it down overnight does not add significant warmth but greatly increases air pollution.”

“The best option is to keep a supply of kindling and dry wood handy to re-start the burner in the morning.”


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