Can You Burn Rotten Wood? [Comprehensive Guide]

Can you burn rotten wood

When you keep a pile of wood remained outside for a long time without proper treatment or shelter, the snow and the rain will start the decay of the wood. Can you burn rotten wood? If this is a question that you recently came across as you feel so bad to throw it away, this article will be your guide. 

Rotten wood is simply decaying wood with less density as a result of exposure to water and moisture for an extended period. Damped wood increases decaying with the function of microorganisms. There are many signs that showcase the rotting of a wood log, including a change of color, change in shape, fallen wooden slips in the surroundings, etc. Boric acid is an often-used wood-treating agent that prevents decaying due to fungal growth. The rotting will start within 1-6 months when kept outside and exposed to moisture and water. 

Can You Burn Rotten Wood?

At present indoor wood-used fireplaces are less consumed. But we often use wood in campfires, outdoor furnaces, or bonfires. It was identified that 20% of houses in the US use wood as a heating source, while firewood is the main heating source for 4%. 

We all have felt like, “what a waste!” when we see a pile of wood decaying outdoors. Can you burn rotten wood? If this is what you are searching for, it is glad to say that those can be used in fires. But there are certain drawbacks bound with burning decaying or mold-affected wood inside a house. It is crucial to have sound knowledge of the risks side when you try to get the use of an old, shanked lot of wood. 

Other than those, rotten wood does not give a strong, powerful fire because of its less density. The true purpose of burning wood will not be achieved if your wood has started decaying. But still, you can use decaying dumped wood to start a fire outdoors.  

Why is it Not Recommended to Burn Rotten Wood?

Rotten wood does not burn completely due to moisture. The partial burning results in producing creosote. This blackish by-product may deposit in your chimney, which will block the transmission of combustion products outside the house. This will be a reason for the overheating of a stove.

Can Rotten Wood Make You Sick?

You may have observed that when decaying the wood logs, composite fungi. If you bring rotten wood inside your house, a lot of fungi spores will be added to the atmosphere of your home. 

These spores have the ability to cause allergies for some people, and asthma patients, too, will increase their illness when exposed to fungi spores. Blastomycosis is another disease bound by the inhaling of fungus spores. First, this disease will start in the lungs but will gradually spread to other organs. Cough, fever, and pain in muscles and joints are the main symptoms of infection of fungus Blastomyces.

These fungi and mildew will also make a bad odor inside your house.

How do you Get Rid of Mold on Firewood?

As we have discussed, moldy wood has the possibility of making you sick. Therefore, it is essential to remove any mold present in wood before taking it inside your house or to your outdoor firing. 

  • First, you should wear protective gloves, goggles, and masks to avoid entering fungus spores into your respiratory or digestive system.
  • The next step is removing the fungus. You can use a vacuum or manually cut down all the fungus growing in the wood logs. Make sure that you dispose these fungal residues outside the house to prevent spores from entering the inside air of your house.
  • Cut out the decayed parts and take the inner stem that has not been affected by moisture. 
  • Furthermore, if you are going to use the wood for any other purpose than burning, then you can clean the wood with a mixture of soap and warm water. Additionally, you can try vinegar and water mix too. 
  • Let the collected wooden parts dry before burning. 

Can Smelling Creosote Make You Sick?

Creosote, the half-burned residuals formed by wet wood, presents the ability to make you sick. When these fumes are inhaled, some may face respiratory troubles, especially asthma patients. According to the research done by UCLA, it was evident that creosotes could cause stomach pain together with burning in the throat and mouth. 

Touching creosote with a naked hand will end in various skin irritations like swelling, turning into a reddish color, and a burning sensation. If you are exposed to a larger amount for a considerably long period, it might cause even sores, and you will need to be hidden from sunlight.

Generally, softwoods forms creosote than hardwood in burning. 

Can Wood be too Old to Burn?

If you have forgotten to treat it with a protective solvent or a shelter, wood may start decaying. When you lift, if you can observe pieces are failing off and could be smashed with your shoes by applying slight pressure, then we can assume that the wood is out of the usage boundaries. 

We have discussed the destructive effects of burning rotten wood in the earlier paragraphs. 

What is the Difference Between Soot and Creosote?

Soot is produced by the incomplete combustion of wood, oil, and gas. Creosote is a tar-like substance formed due to the partial burn of wet wood. Both these substances can block the chimney liner of your stove and block the airway. 

How do you Dry Firewood Quickly?

  • Cut into the appropriate length and store with proper spaces left for enough ventilation.
  • Choose summer for drying your wood by exposing it to sunlight. 
  • Cover the wooden logs with a roof or a suitable cover.
  • Only store it for a short period of time as it may start decaying, making it out of use. 
  • Check the moisture content before putting the stored wood in your fireplace. If it is around 20%, the wood is good enough to burn and get enough heat. 


Can you burn rotten wood? In this article, you have provided an explained answer to this question. Here you can also find some tips to make the perfect firewood. 

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