Wood Burning Safety

An efficient stove

The rich tradition of the fireplace and wood stove is deeply ingrained in American lifestyle and history. Today’s woodburning appliances are not merely an economical heat source but an integral addition to home furnishing.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has promulgated a wood stove emission-control regulation. The regulation prohibits the manufacture or sale of any woodburning stove that is not “certified” to meet the minimum clean air standard.

Confronted with federal regulation and air pollution concerns, the wood stove industry, with modern technology, has developed high-efficiency, cleaner burning, wood heating appliances. Today’s improved technology wood stoves meet the air quality challenge head on.

In wood, there are actually two types of fuel available. The solid matter, the wood, comprises only 50% of the potential energy. The smoke, created from burning wood, comprises the remaining 50%. In solving the emissions problem, burning all available fuel at maximum levels and releasing less emissions into the atmosphere, the industry has created not only a cleaner burning appliance, but a more efficient heat source.

Take advantage of today’s high efficiency, maximum safety, and cleaner burning wood heating appliances. The Improved Technology advantages:

  1. An efficient stove produces more heat.
  2. An efficient stove requires less fuel because the stove burns less wood.
  3. An efficient stove produces less creosote buildup and is therefore safer.
  4. An efficient stove produces less smoke for better air quality.


When purchasing a new wood burner, there are many important factors to consider.

  • Safety. Choose a safe stove or fireplace insert. It is recommended that you purchase only an appliance which has been safety tested and bears a label from a recognized authority such as s testing lab or a building code group. Avoid “garage sale specials” or antique stoves. Even a small undetected flaw can result in hazard.
  • Efficiency. Look for a certification label announcing that the stove has been tested by an accredited laboratory and meets the stringent federal particulate matter (smoke) control requirements. The amount of wood you will burn to produce the heat output you need will depend on the efficiency of the stove that you select. The EPA-sanctioned label includes emission and efficiency ratings for the appliance.
  • Heat Output. Select a stove that is best suited for the space heating requirements of your home and in your part of the country. Before purchasing a wood burner, consider ceiling height, room size, and number of rooms to be heated. Then, consulting your dealer, using the heat output rating-information included on the certification label, you can easily match your heating needs with the space heating capacity of the new store. Be sure to ask your dealer how the climate will impact heat output.


Installation of your wood heating appliance should be done by a professional.

In 1981, the Hearth Products Association established the HEARTH Education Foundation, formerly the Wood Heating Education and Research Foundation (WHERF). HEARTH is an independent, nonprofit organization committed to safe, enjoyable and responsible use of the residential fireside. HEARTH accomplishes its mission through training and certification of hearth products professionals and through public education programs. You can locate qualified professional in your area who have met the training and examination requirements to become HEARTH Certified Specialists in the fields of Fireplace, Gas Hearth Appliances, Pellet Appliances, Venting Design and Woodstove. You can learn more about the HEARTH Education Foundation and its program on the www.hearthed.com site.


Once your wood burner is correctly installed, the proper use of the appliance and fuel is essential to maximize the safety and efficiency. Learning how to properly use your woodburning appliance will give you the security of knowing you and your family are enjoying wood heat in the most responsible and safest way. Reduce the risk of hazard by following these proper use and maintenance tips.


  • Wood is our nation’s primary renewable fuel.
  • There are generally two types of wood available. Soft woods, such as fir and pine, are easy to light and burn rapidly with a hot flame. Hard woods, such as ash, beech, birch, maple and oak, provide a longer-lasting fire with a shorter flame. Refer to the chart “Firewood Ratings” for additional wood choice information. A mixture of softwoods and hardwoods is the best choice for a fire that is easily ignited and long-lasting.
  • Purchase your fuel well in advance of the burning season.

HPBA-sm.jpgInformation provided by The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association