Why shouldn’t you burn plastic in a wood burning stove?

Why shouldn’t you burn plastic in a wood burning stove?

The guidance is simple – you should never burn plastics in your wood burning stove. Wood burning stoves are, of course, designed for burning wood, but it’s also fine to put other materials like paper or cardboard in them. However, burning plastics can be a real hazard that affects both your home and the environment. In this blog, we answer the question, “Why shouldn’t you burn plastic in a wood burning stove?”


Health risks

Firstly, burning plastic in your wood burner is a serious health risk. The burning of plastic releases harmful toxins into the air that you and your family are then exposed to. The toxins commonly found in plastic include dioxins and PCBs, hydrogen cyanide, hydrochloric acid, and sulphuric acid. This list isn’t exhaustive – many toxins can be found in plastics and the exact toxins present varies between different types of plastic.

These toxins can be harmful to humans as well as pets. For example, inhaling small quantities of hydrogen cyanide can cause nausea and vomiting, headaches, and dizziness. If you’re continually breathing the toxin in, it can cause fainting, irregular heartbeat, seizures, and even death. Dioxins can cause a variety of serious health problems, including reproductive issues, damage to the immune system, and cancer. It’s much safer for everyone if you avoid letting these toxins into your home.


Damage to the environment

Burning plastics can also have an impact on the environment. Once toxins escape out of your home from the chimney, they’re then present in the atmosphere. This can be harmful to anyone who breathes them in outside of your home. The toxins can also settle in the environment and linger for a long period of time, meaning that a quick decision to burn some plastic could have a long-term impact on the environment around you.


Damage to the wood burner

A wood burning stove or log burner is designed for use with wood and logs. Testing to ensure that stoves are safe is usually not done with fuels other than wood, so you really don’t know what the consequences will be if you burn plastic.

Advanced stoves sometimes have in-built technology to limit smoke emissions, however burning inappropriate fuel can stop this from working. If vapours from burning plastic coat the catalyst that limits emissions, it might affect its performance. If the stove is damaged, you might invalidate any manufacturer’s warranties if it’s clear that inappropriate fuel like plastic has been used.


What should you do with plastics?

Rather than burning plastics, recycling them is more appropriate where possible. If you’re in any doubt about recycling plastics in your area, speak to your local council. They can give advice on the best way to dispose of plastic waste where you live!


If you’re interested in buying a wood burner or you want to know more, we can help here at Stove Supermarket! Shop our range of wood burners or get in touch - drop us an email at sales@stovesupermarket.co.uk or give us a call on 01226 816 051.

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