Here's Why It's *So* Dangerous To Burn Your Christmas Tree In The Fireplace

by Lindsay E. Mack

As fun and festive as it is selecting and decorating your Christmas tree, the same cannot be said when it comes to taking it down. The biggest question of all is how you're going to get rid of it. When you have an expired Christmas tree and a roaring fireplace, it only seems logical to put one and two together. The idea of pine-scented smoke sounds wonderful, after all, and it may look like an easy way to dispose of your old tree. So you might be wondering: Can I burn my Christmas tree in the fireplace? And is it safe?

It's actually not a good idea at all to burn a Christmas tree in the fireplace, because these trees burn too hot and fast for the average home hearth. Many Christmas trees contain a chemical known as creosote, which burns very hot and can wreck the average home chimney, according to Money Talks News. In addition, the Christmas tree's flammable turpentine oils can cause flare-ups or even chimney fires, according to Lowe's. The ultra-hot fires that result from burning old Christmas trees are potentially damaging to your fireplace, home, and family.

But high heat isn't the only potential hazard from burning old Christmas trees indoors. Fiery explosions are another concern. In fact, the high sap content found in firs, pines, and spruces can cause small explosions when lit on fire, according to T.J.'s Chimney Service. These explosions could potentially burn things inside or even outside your home. Christmas tree fires are no joke.

Even using some needles or small branches for kindling can be risky, because these parts of the tree can contain contain substances such as terpenes, which contain a lot of energy, according to Gemini Research News. Burning even a tiny brach may be too powerful for your home chimney. Basically, any super-hot fire from an old Christmas tree could damage your chimney, home, and even the area surrounding your house. It isn't worth the risk. I spoke to someone who performed this very feat in his parent's backyard a few years ago, and he said the flames got "pretty high" and the tree went up "very fast." Take that information for what it's worth.

If you're a dedicated firebug, then setting your old Christmas tree aflame outdoors may be an option if your city participates in a neighborhood bonfire event. Seriously. You can — and should — let the professionals take over the burning duties by signing up for a Christmas tree bonfire event in your community. These are hosted by local fire departments that collect old trees and burn them efficiently and safely. For instance, the Old Newbury Christmas Tree Bonfire looks like a total blast. Yea, you definitely want someone who knows what they're doing to handle a feat like this.

For the more indoorsy people out there who were hoping to waft their living rooms with the scent of pine, there's a safe way to bring Christmas tree scents and fires together safely. Candles or incense with a piney scent feels like a clear choice. If you light them around the fireplace, then it's the general idea of a spruced-up fire without any of the risk. For the extremely risk-averse, essential oil or reed diffusers with Christmas tree smells are also an excellent choice.

Whether your tree is quietly recycled or set aflame in a big bonfire, hopefully you and your family will enjoy its disposal in a safe way. Just keep it out of the fireplace. But in sum, no part of the tree, from the trunk to the branches to the pine, are suitable to be burned indoors.

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