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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Fire Accelerants to Avoid Using to Start Bonfires

7/25/2022 (Permalink)

Bonfires are a great way to stay cozy, especially as the weather cools down. Even though most modern homes have advanced heating systems, there is nothing like cozying up to a warm fire. When starting a fire or bonfire, there are a few accelerators you should avoid for safety. Here is a list of accelerants you should avoid when starting a bonfire:

Treated wood

Treated wood can release toxic chemicals, which can hinder your breathing. Wood that is treated can contain arsenic and other toxic chemicals. When these chemicals are used to burn a fire, they can be extremely harmful and should not be inhaled.

Lighter fluid

Lighter fluid seems like an easy way to start a fire, but it can be very unsafe especially if used improperly. These products are not designed for recreational use. They often contain methanol and petroleum-based chemicals, which are also not meant to be inhaled by humans. If you're starting an indoor fire, do not use lighter fluid. It can damage your chimney and surrounding areas.


Recyclables are good to use for fires because they often help to start a fire very fast. However, using pizza boxes or cereal boxes are also treated with chemicals and should not be burned. Instead of using pizza or cereal boxes, try out small wood or purchase tinder from a camping supply store.

Wet Firewood

Wet firewood should not be used for a fire because when the wood is wet and lit on fire, it can produce toxic smoke. Moist firewood can also lead to a build-up of creosote. Creosote is another chemical that should not be inhaled. While creosote cannot be fully avoided when lighting a fire, damp firewood will lessen the amount of creosote.

Wood Pallets 

Wood pallets can be discarded, but not by catching fire.  Many pallets have been treated with methyl and also should not be burned. If you are looking to dispose of an old pallet, it can be recycled or made into a cool DIY project.


If you are on vacation and happen to see driftwood on the beach, do not burn it. Even though it can present a beautiful flame, the metal salts that the wood absorbs are also toxic.

If you are struggling with what can be used as an accelerant for your next bonfire, stick to the basics. If you are in double, you most likely should not use it to start a fire. The most common and safe forms of fire accelerants are newspaper, dryer lint, wood shavings, and crumbled paper.

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