Can You Burn Stained Wood?

Last Updated on February 8, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

What is Stained Wood?

Wood stain is generally a type of liquid product designed to color and protect wooden surfaces.

There are many different types, but all include some sort of coloring agent mixed,  or dissolved in a solvent or “vehicle” substance. This vehicle substance is usually oil, polyurethane, water or alcohol.

Stained wood is not the same as natural wood. Staining wood generally means changing the color and the appearance of the wood by using coloring agents. But these coloring agents are different from paints.

The wood soaks up the staining agent, thus, not only the color changes, but there are some textural changes and changes to the grain structure also.

Burning natural wood and stained wood are not the same. You might be wondering, can you burn stained wood or burn painted wood?

Well, you will need to think about the toxic fumes and toxic chemicals that may be released into the air when burning wood or when burning treated lumber or stained wood.

Let’s have a look at some of the aspects that need to be taken into consideration when burning stained wood. Especially the release of toxic fumes when burned.

Burning Stained Wood – Yes or No?

Let’s be clear, you definitely should not be burning stained wood.

This does not mean stained wood won’t burn, on the contrary, stained wood might burn better than untreated wood.

Nonetheless, you should avoid burning stained wood all together. Stained wood contains quite a few dangerous and noxious chemicals that are not harmful to humans in their common state.

However, burning stained wood will release these chemicals into the air in the form of  toxic fumes that are unsafe and dangerous if inhaled.

When you burn stained wood, whether in a fire pit or a fireplace outside, or a wood stove or an oven inside, the above mentioned chemicals create toxic fumes which are dangerous to anyone’s health. You might think that wood burning  outside or in the fire pit is perfectly fine.

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However, burning stained wood in any way or at any place, might not be the right thing to do. Let’s examine where one can burn stained wood.

Fire Pit or Fireplace

Do not burn stained wood in a fire pit or fireplace. Usually you will have a fireplace or fire pit inside or around your home somewhere. Burning stained wood will produce toxic fumes that are unsafe to inhale. This can cause a number of health issues.


Whether you decide to burn wood inside or outside, burning stained wood remains equally as dangerous. The toxic chemicals released from  wood burning will poison the surrounding environment and contribute to air pollution.

Additionally, burning treated wood in an outdoor fire, may cause the toxic chemicals to enter the surrounding environment even further by means of wind and weather conditions. So, wood burning outside is also not an option.

Log burner

You may think that because a long burner is closed and all the smoke and fumes escape through a chimney, a log burner should be safe to use with treated wood.

However, similarly to open fires outdoors, the toxic chemicals that are released when you burn stained wood will rapidly enter the environment. Similarly to burning painted wood or treated wood, this practice is not recommended at any level

Is It Dangerous To Burn Stained Wood?

Absolutely!!  Burning stained wood should be avoided at all times. When treated wood is burned, the risk of poisoning yourself and the environment around the wood fire is large.

When you burn stained wood, toxic smoke and other really nasty chemicals are released into the air and are around your fireplace.With all these chemicals becoming airborne, it can cause adverse health problems for you and your pets when inhaled.

Smoke released into the air from burning wood that is stained is extremely bad for your health. If your wood has been around for a while and was stained or painted before the 1970’s you might be burning lead based paint, which is extremely poisonous.

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These harmful chemicals are similar to some of the same chemicals found in cigarettes and car exhaust emissions. These hazardous fumes have been linked to causing cancer, increasing the frequency of asthma attacks, as well as causing other respiratory problems.

So, can you burn stained wood? Yes! – Should you burn stained wood? Definitely NO!

Is it Illegal to Burn Wood Openly?

Open burning is characterized by the burning of materials that are not good for the environment, such as old building materials, pressure treated wood, trash, and plastic waste.

Usually this occurs outside with no measures in place to protect the environment. This may seem completely harmless and safe but it can have some pretty adverse negative effects on the environment.

The laws surrounding open burning of certain materials differ slightly between different states and localities . If you are not sure, it would be good to get in touch with the local authorities before you burn wood of a stained or painted nature.

States such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Montana strictly prohibit the open burning of any wood that has been treated chemically, this includes stained wood and varnished woods.

How To Dispose of Stained Wood

Seeing as we have established that we should not burn stained wood, treated wood, or painted wood. What are some good methods of getting rid of it?


The easiest and most obvious option would be to just load it up and truck it to your nearest landfill or disposal site.

Just make sure to check that the landfill or site you are visiting allows the dumping of stained wood or treated lumber. In this case stained wood would fall under the category of building material, so if they accept those, you can leave your wood with them.

Sell It

If you have stained wood that is still in good condition and without much or any damage, it may be worth selling it to recover some of the money you spent on buying it initially. Pieces of stained wood can still be used for home décor or for the construction of small decorative items or furniture.

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A good way to start is by contacting your local furniture store or even a wood workshop. A good way of advertising it is also on any of the major social media platforms.

There are always some DIY enthusiasts looking for a good deal on a new addition to a current project.  Advertise the type of wood and how it was stained and someone will surely be in touch soon. Don’t forget to inquire with your local carpenter for the right price.  

Giving old wood offcuts away to your local schools and wood working shops, is a good way of getting rid of them. It’s certainly better than to burn wood.

Again, this can also be advertised on social media as “pick up against no cost” or “if you can haul it, you can have it”, some artsy DIY enthusiasts will be sure to come around.

Final Thoughts

So the big question remains. Can you burn stained wood?

According to what we have just been through, definitely not.

Any type of wood that is treated, painted, stained or even  just to burn pressure treated wood or wood pallets will create toxic fumes and harmful chemicals into the air, harming the environment and anyone who inhales said fumes.

We recommend in every instance to dispose of the wood correctly and not to resort to open wood burning, especially if it is manufactured wood or painted or stained wood.

Apart from keeping an eye on treated or stained woods, also keep an eye on plants that might be naturally poisonous to burn, such as poison oak or poison ivy or poison sumac.