Burning Basics

Stacked FirewoodScrap Uncertified Wood Stoves

For starters, if you own or use a wood stove, find out whether it's EPA-certified. There should be a label on the back or on top if you have a fireplace insert. Uncertified wood stoves are no longer legal to sell or purchase in the State of Washington due to the significant pollution they generate. If you have an uncertified wood stove, we strongly recommend you replace it with a cleaner-heating, more efficient alternative. See Clean Heating Choices for more information.

More Reasons to Make the Switch

  • During a burn ban, it is unlawful to use uncertified wood stoves.
  • Uncertified stoves release twice as much air pollution as certified stoves.
  • Since 1992, only EPA-certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts can be sold in Washington.
  • It is illegal to install an uncertified wood stove or insert in Washington
  • It is illegal to sell, give away or exchange an uncertified wood stove unless for scrap.
  • Installing an uncertified stove can also void insurance policy coverage in some instances.

Minimize Smoke, Save Money

Generating excess chimney smoke (defined by state law as 20% opacity or more) is not only un-neighborly, it's against the law. View examples of varying smoke opacities. Plus, it's a sign you're not getting the most out of your fuel. Here's how to minimize smoke, increase the heat you get from your wood, and limit your impact on your neighbors:

  • Consider manufactured logs such as Duraflame instead of wood. They are bug-free and burn up to 70 percent cleaner. A single log burns anywhere from two to eight hours. All are safe for open-hearth fireplaces; check the label to see which kinds are suitable for wood stoves.
  • If you burn wood, use only dry, seasoned cordwood (less than 20 percent moisture). In our northwest climate, cordwood must be kept covered for a year to season it properly.
  • Use only small amounts of paper and kindling to start the fire, give it plenty of air, and burn small hot fires.
  • Check your chimney periodically to make sure no smoke is visible. If you see smoke, your fire needs more air or your wood may be too wet or green

Burn responsibly

  • Know the laws that govern burning with wood.
  • Observe burn bans. During Stage 1 Burn Bans, it is unlawful to use fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves. Stage 2 Burn Bans prohibit the use of certified wood stoves and pellet stoves in addition to fireplaces and uncertified wood stoves.
  • Never burn garbage - it's against the law.
  • If you're not sure how to properly and safely operate your wood stove or fireplace, consult a hearth-products dealer.

A Quick a Quick Guide on How to Select a New Stove for Home Heat

Different fuel choices come with an array of environmental, economic and health considerations. If you are considering a wood stove or fireplace insert for your home, or upgrading your old wood stove to something that heats cleaner and more efficiently, take a few minutes to determine which device and fuel choice best fits your needs.

How to Operate Your Wood Stove More Efficiently

Simple changes to the way your burn in your stove or fireplace can help reduce smoke, reduce needed fuel and save you money. Learn how to minimize smoke, increase the heat you get from your wood and limit your impact on your neighbor.

Firewood, from the Forest to the Shed

Produced by Environment Canada about good firewood preparation and good firewood practices.

How to Build a Wood Shed

Environmental Protection Agency's Burn Wise Program

Find additional information about wood burning at EPA's Burn Wise website.