A lot of people offer scrap wood for burning. It is not illegal to offer this, but some caution should be used by the person receiving the wood.
CCA (chromated copper arsenate)
A particular issue that does cause concern is that some treated timber contains CCA (chromated copper arsenate) and should not be burnt as firewood. CCA is a wood preservative that has been used for timber treatment since the mid 1930s, but stopped in 2006. As the name suggests it is a mixture of chromium, copper and arsenic, it imparts a greenish tint to the timber. It is highly effective as wood preservative, often used as a substitute for creosote. It protects against fungal decay, wood eating insects and affords a good degree of weather-resistance. But when burnt, toxic arsenic is released into the atmosphere and the ash from burnt CCA treated timber can contain up to 10 per cent (by weight) arsenic, chromium and copper. Swallowing only a few grams of this ash can be harmful. Symptoms can include nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhoea, and pins and needles feeling in the skin. Common advice is to never burn CCA treated timber as firewood in fireplaces, barbecues, wood stoves or any wood fire.
Any wood designed for indoors use, or which was first used outdoors before 1933 or after 2006 is likely to be safe to burn. CCA was latterly primarily used in fences, sheds, and decks. It was banned initially voluntary, and restricted its use to external use, but later became encoded in law, and it was no longer available at all. A general safety document covering the types of materials that can be burnt on a domestic open fire is https://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/assets/documents/reports/cat09/1901291307_Ready_to_Burn_Web.pdf
MB Methyl Bromide
These pallets have been treated with a highly toxic pesticide which can be necessary in certain regions of the world where there are pests that can’t be eliminated by heat treatments. You should never use MB stamped pallets for a craft project and you should never burn these pallets on a fire. Methyl bromide treatment was made illegal in the UK in 2010 and is being phased out worldwide. Pallets are durable though, so there are some MB stamped pallets still in circulation. So it’s always worth being careful and double checking your pallet stamps. If you can’t tell what the stamp was, don’t use the pallet!
For safety, it is probably best to take a stance that any pressure treated wood is likely to have chemicals that, once burnt, are harmful to health and the environment.
CHEP Pallets are the blue pallets you might see or occasionally get requests of offers in your community. These pallets are legally owned by the CHEP company and should be returned directly to them either through the company they were obtained from or to CHEP directly. These should therefore not be allowed on Freegle. A member can get a free collection by telephone or e-mail on 0800 515 320 or email@example.com or visit their website for further details at www.chep.com.
2021: Government announcement on restrictions for fuel for woodburners - https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-takes-action-to-cut-pollution-from-household-burning "To help improve the air we breathe and ensure householders choose cleaner fuels, sales of coal and wet wood – the two most polluting fuels – will be phased out between 2021 and 2023"
If freshly cut logs are offered for firewood on groups, it is advisable to give the above information.
Back to Specific Items