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“Can I Burn Firewood That’s Been Sprayed for Termites?”

By Chris Williams on January 2, 2014.
Termite infested firewood

Don’t burn that wood!

Question

My husband was burning some firewood this weekend that had a really strange smell. He said he had sprayed it with bug spray a couple of months ago when he found termites in the wood. Is it okay to burn the wood now since it’s been a while since he sprayed it?

Answer

No, please do not burn that wood! Just the fact that you noticed the smell from the insecticide tells you that it’s still present on the wood. You don’t say what he sprayed, but you never want to spray anything on wood that you are burning in your home. Think about it, you’re breathing in that air. Burning insecticide-treated wood may release toxic fumes into your living space and could be a potential health hazard.

Whatever your husband sprayed probably didn’t affect termites that are inside the wood anyway. The termites won’t leave the wood and infest your home once inside. Either throw out termite-infested firewood or burn it as you would any other piece. The fact that your firewood has termites tells me several things about how it is being stored outside:

  1. Your firewood is probably being stored directly on the ground since termites live in the soil and move through soil directly into wood. If the firewood was stored up off of the ground, termites (and many other firewood insects) would likely not be able to reach it to infest it. And, if high and dry, your firewood will have a much longer useable life.
  2. Your firewood is probably damp since termites usually infest wet or rotting wood. Hopefully, it’s just the pieces on the bottom of the stack that are damp and infested. You may be able to toss these and restack your firewood off of the ground to dry it out. If you keep a cover over your firewood, leave some space between the wood and the cover for ventilation.
  3. Your firewood may be too old and not salvageable. The wood may be too rotten or damp to burn well. The fact that it’s infested by termites suggests that it’s been stacked and sitting there awhile. Again, it may be only the bottom logs that are affected and you may be able to salvage good wood on top. It’s always a good idea to rotate your firewood pile each year, especially if the wood is of different ages. Make sure you burn the older wood first; don’t let a log remain on the bottom of the pile for more than a year.

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