Can You Burn 20 Year Old Treated Wood?

For many people, summertime means firing up the grill and inviting the neighbors over for a barbecue on the beautiful new wooden deck you created this spring. But, before you start grilling, double-check to see what kind of wood the patio contains. According to a growing body of evidence, certain forms of pressure-treated wood often used in outdoor environments may harm human health.

Treated wood can not be burnt in stoves, fireplaces, or outdoors because poisonous contaminants are emitted as part of the smoke and ash and can be dangerous if inhaled. And if it is legal to dump processed wood in a landfill, it is also preferable to reuse it. But you may need to check your community rules about whether it is allowed in your state.

Wood that has been industrially pressure-treated with approved preservative agents poses a negligible risk to the public, according to a law passed, which should be disposed of properly. This bill was passed into law. On the 31st of December, 2003, In the United States, the wood treatment industry started treating residential lumber with arsenic and chromium (chromate copper arsenate, or CCA)

Is it possible to get cancer from burning pressure-treated wood?

Is it possible to get cancer from burning pressure-treated wood? Arsenic in Historical Pressure-Treated Wood Before January 2004, Most pressure-treated timbers were treated with arsenic-containing chromate copper arsenate (CCA). 

Is it safe to burn old treated wood?

As pressure-treated wood is burnt, it emits a mixture of hazardous chemicals and toxins into the air, some of which can inadvertently enter the lungs. When you burn CCA wood, poisonous chemicals such as copper, arsenic, and chromium are emitted into the air you and your family breathe.

State law prohibits the open burning of treated wood. Open burning is usually only permitted at town transit stations and only with clean (untreated) wood and brush. Other restricted public burning cases can be seen at different locations, but only with the permission of municipal authorities and usually only for clean lumber and timber, not processed wood.

What can you do with old treated wood?

Treated lumber is perhaps the most common form of decking material, and it’s by a long shot; this is the kind of decking wood that has been chemically treated to make it resistant to insect damage and rot due to exposure to the sun and the elements.

  1. Give it out

Sure, you spent a lot of money on that old treated deck, and making some money off of it would be ideal. However, when it comes to getting rid of old furniture or, in this case, treated wood, you must consider the challenge of getting rid of such old materials. 

“One man’s garbage is every man’s treasure,” as the saying goes. People are selling or recycling items around their homes that they no longer need more than ever before due to Facebook groups. You might try piling the boards on the curb with a sign reading “free wood,” depending on the state of the wood you choose to dispose of out. You’d be shocked how easily a passing motorist might see anything like that. 

Even if you don’t live in a high-traffic city, you can generate an ad using the Internet’s resources. Post it on your local Facebook Marketplace, and, at the very least, you’ll get a response within a few days. That takes care of the problem with the unwelcomed treated wood.

  1. Sell your treated wood

Of course, if you find like you have spent too much money on your old treated wood to throw it out, you might decide to sell it. And, since processed timber products are intended to last a long time — usually upwards of 40 years — you can easily sell them to someone else. 

Given the high cost of timber, there is no doubt another group who will welcome the opportunity to obtain the goods at a fraction of the price. In a case like this, both the seller and the buyer will prosper.

  1. Dispose of your wood with Local Trash Pickup

In any case, call the local waste collection agency or check their website to see if they can accept the old wood you’re trying to throw away. 

If that’s the case, what you have to do now is make sure it’s free of nails and other potentially dangerous materials before tossing it on the curb. They will pull it out for you and get it out of your hair once and for all if it comes under the municipality’s guidelines.

How to dispose of pressure-treated wood

Treated wood of any kind may be disposed of in the following manner:

  1. Homeowners working on minor projects should carry treated wood to a landfill or transfer station and deposit it in the appropriate area (i.e., the non-clean woodpile). Contractors, distributors, and distributors can either contract directly with a DEEP-approved bulky waste landfill or submit their processed wood to an out-of-state wood-burning plant properly installed and licensed to burn it.
  2. Composting sawdust, chips, and small wood scraps is never a good idea. As previously mentioned, these things should be treated as such.

Check the municipality’s rules and regulations. Few cities require it to be handled as building waste to be processed separately. Others would allow you to throw small amounts in the garbage.

  1. Recognizing that residents are likely to be sloppy), anything above a few pounds must be sequestered. It’s possible that some municipalities are already avoiding the problem and simply landfilling anything that isn’t living.

How long is treated wood toxic?

Pressure-treated timber is suitable for outdoor building because it has a long usable life cycle and is much less costly than alternatives. Treated wood has a lifespan of more than 40 years. Pressure-treated lumber cannot be burnt in any circumstances. When older CCA-treated wood is charred, it emits radioactive arsenic. And on the lookout for free timber.

According to an analysis, arsenic used to process outdoor wood materials does not degrade over time. Children who play on ten-year-old equipment are almost as likely to be exposed to elevated levels of the potentially cancer-causing agent as children who play on structures built recently.

Arsenic-treated timber is used in more than 90% of the outdoor wooden buildings in the United States. Based on wipe tests from 263 decks, playsets, picnic benches, and sandboxes in 45 states, researchers discovered that arsenic levels on wood surfaces remain elevated for 20 years — the entire useful life of the wood.

How can I tell if my wood has been arsenical treated? 

Treated wood has a distinct stamp indicating that it has been treated. Look for symbols that signify the amount of ground touch. It is the most toxic variety because it contains arsenic and is designed for close contact with the environment. It contains arsenic, is intended for immediate contact with the earth, and is the most toxic variety, regardless of whether it is stamped L-P22. It’s marginally less poisonous and not intended for close contact with the earth if it’s stamped L-P2.

How do you tell if a piece of wood has been treated or not? 

What is the key distinction? The primary difference between treated and untreated wood is that treated wood has been chemically infused. These chemicals protect the wood in a variety of ways, but they come at a cost. The cost is that many wood-treatment substances are not necessarily safe for humans or pets.

Is it possible to burn timber in a fire pit? 

For fire pits, pressure-treated wood is a no-no. Lumber is often handled with harsh chemicals like arsenic and chromate to resist pests and fungi used to construct houses or factories. Aside from the substantial health hazards, burning pressure-treated wood is prohibited in all 50 states.

What You Shouldn’t Do with Your Old Treated Wood

  • it should not be composted. 

Do not, under all circumstances, compost your handled wood. Composting discarded scrap wood is usually a smart thing, but we’re back to some dangerous chemicals. The contaminants from the processed timber can saturate the compost, resulting in toxic chemicals being dumped into your greenhouse. 

Those poisonous chemicals can and will end up in your plants and, inevitably, on your dining room table if this occurs. Even if you choose to use this compost on ornamental plants, the chemicals will leach into the soil and then into the groundwater, rendering anything cultivated or groundwater used poisonous.


If the trend hasn’t been apparent by now, it soon will. Treated wood includes certain hazardous substances, making it dangerous to dispose of without proper handling. Cutting up certain bits to make them easier to dispose of may seem to be a smart idea, but it isn’t. 

Anything you do to the wood gives unwanted contaminants a chance to escape into the atmosphere, posing a risk to you and those around you.


You can do many things with the old wood from your former deck if it isn’t pressure-treated. Even then, you can properly dispose of the toxic substance in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.

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