Don’t burn that Christmas tree

Burning your Christmas tree can be potentially dangerous
Burning your Christmas tree can be potentially dangerous

A Hundon shimney sweep is urging local residents not to burn their Christmas tree on their open fires/wood burning stoves once the decorations have been taken down this year.

Unbeknownst to the majority of the public, burning your Christmas tree can be potentially dangerous and Mark Sullivan of Wilkins Chimney Sweep wants to make sure all of his customers are aware of the dangers.

While sweeping up to twelve chimneys a day, Mark is often shocked to discover that many householders are unaware of the dangers of burning wet, unseasoned or the wrong type of wood in their wood burning stoves and fires.

“Burning any kind of wood, other than that which is specifically meant to go on your fire can be very dangerous and this includes Christmas trees,” said the retired policeman.

“Fir trees, including Lleylandi and all types of Christmas trees shouldn’t be burnt as the sap can turn into creosote, which is like tar and which could easily catch fire inside the chimney.

“Christmas trees were probably only felled a maximum of two months ago, added to which you may have been watering it to keep it alive, meaning it is not nearly dry enough to be burnt.

“There are a number of local initiatives for disposing of Christmas trees, burning it just isn’t the safe option.

“Burning wet, or the wrong kind of wood i.e. old pallets, scrap wood, fencing, old kitchen cupboards etc, are dangerous practices that could result in ‘tarring’ the inside of the chimney or worse, causing a potentially damaging chimney fire.

“Scrap wood not meant specifically for burning is likely to have been treated with chemicals which, when burnt, can be released into the atmosphere. Burning at a low heat (eg wet or unseasoned wood) is also extremely dangerous, as it can also cause a build-up of the highly flammable substance creosote (tar), on the inside of the chimney, which could ignite at any time.

“I always advise my customers to burn wood with a moisture content of between 20 per cent for wood burning stoves and up to 25 per cent for open fires.

“Assuming that hardwood logs have been cut and stored in relatively dry conditions for up to a year, a few days inside in a warm room should dry them out enough to make them safe to burn.

“Having your chimney swept by a professional sweep at least once a year will help to ensure that it is safe to use and identify if there are any ‘tar’ related problems.

“It will also ensure that the flue is not blocked allowing all fumes, including deadly carbon monoxide to be drawn up the flue safely.”

There were over 6,000 preventable chimney fires in England last year.

Many insurance companies now insist on the householder providing a valid (within the last 12 months) certificate of sweeping by a professional sweep, before chimney fire claims will be settled.

To contact Mark to have your chimney swept or for further advice call 01440 787878 or visit the website

For all the latest news see Thursday’s (January 9) Echo.