Items You Should Never Burn on Your Multi-Fuel Stove

Items You Should Never Burn on Your Multi-Fuel Stove

With winter now upon us and the fuels that feed our central heating systems costing in many cases twice as much as they did twelve months ago, multi-fuel stoves are becoming an increasingly popular alternative for warming our homes. That makes sense in many ways, because you can concentrate on heating the one room you spend a lot of time in, rather than heating a whole house when you barely spend any time in some of the rooms.

Another tempting way to save money is to burn a bit of everything to avoid paying out for the fuel recommended by the manufacturer – after all, so the thinking goes, anything that burns is going to produce heat, right?

Well, yes…but also very much no! There are very good reasons why only certain materials should be burned in your multi-fuel stove, because otherwise you can easily harm your stove, your chimney, the environment and your own health.

You also need to remember that in many areas there are strict rules in place regarding smoke emissions, so you might also be breaking the law if you burn something you shouldn’t. 

These are just some of the common materials people can be tempted to use in a multi-fuel stove but that should be avoided at all costs:

Wet wood

As we discussed in a previous article, there are a number of reasons why wet wood is a poor choice of fuel in the home, and these apply equally to their use in a multi-fuel stove. Wet wood produces lots of smoke and other emissions, including the creosote that can cause chimney fires. Your stove will also work much less efficiently if it has to dry the wood sufficiently to burn effectively.   

A dog carrying wet wood


Pallets and other treated wood

Old and broken pallets are a particularly tempting fuel for a fire, especially if they’ve been stored indoors and are dry. However, most pallets will have been treated as a safety measure to stop them from rotting and giving way when in use. Any treated wood is likely to emit all kinds of toxic chemicals that won’t do you or your stove any good, and that includes plywood, chipboard and wood that’s been painted.

a large pile of wooden pallets in a yard


Plastics and other household waste

Plastics are one of the really big no-nos on this list as they are packed with all kinds of toxic chemicals, so that burning them could release poisons like hydrochloric acid, sulphur dioxide, heavy metals and dioxins into the environment and even into your home. Such things can be extremely dangerous, to put it mildly. Plastic – like all household waste – should go into recycling or with general household waste and not into your stove.

Plastics and household waste



Not only does cardboard count as treated wood, so that it is likely to release unwanted and potentially toxic chemicals, but it also burns too quickly to be of any use when it comes to providing useful heat and at such a high temperature that you’ll run a real risk of starting a chimney fire.

Cardboard toilet rolls


Christmas trees and wrapping paper

When the presents have been opened and all that remains is a pile of wrapping paper that probably isn’t recyclable, and when twelfth night rolls around and the tree has to come down, it can seem like a particularly sensible solution to burn the lot. Unfortunately, in both cases, it would actually be a very bad idea – a lot of wrapping paper contains dyes or has a metallic finish, both of which are likely to be toxic, while your Christmas tree may not only contain too much moisture, but will probably also have been treated with chemicals and resins.

Christmas Tree on the floor outside in the snow

So, if you can’t burn any of the above and you can’t treat your stove like an incinerator to dispose of your unwanted household waste, what can you burn? Stick to certified fuels like wood briquettes, smokeless coal and properly seasoned and/or kiln-dried logs.

At KG Smith & Son, we’re a leading supplier of all kinds of smokeless winter fuel designed to keep you and your family warm and your stove and chimney working well and safely. With free delivery available across most of the country, including Northampton, Cambridge and Oxford, we’re proud to be the UK’s leading independent coal supplier.

Contact us now to find out more or order your winter fuel online now.



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