Can You Burn Paper in a Fire Pit? HELL NO, BUT WHY NOT?

close up of paper burning inside a fire pit

Lighting a fire in a fire pit is a great way to keep warm and have a relaxing time with friends and family. However, you can’t just burn anything you want because many things are dangerous and harmful to the environment when burned. Paper is an example of something you shouldn’t burn in a fire pit, but why not?

You can’t burn paper in a fire pit because it can be dangerous due to the paper particles flying around the air while burning. Burning paper in a fire pit is also terrible for the environment because it releases harmful chemicals like carbon dioxide into the air.

It’s essential to fully understand why you can’t burn paper in a fire pit or even inside a fire ring, and this article will discuss the topic in more detail. Be sure to read on if you want to learn more!

Here’s Why You Can’t Burn Paper in a Fire Pit

Below, I will discuss some main reasons you can’t burn paper in a fire pit.

a book burning and in flames on a completely black background

Paper Particles Can Fly Around While Burning

The first thing you should consider is safety. When you burn paper, you might notice tiny hot pieces of debris flying around the air; this is because paper loses a lot of its weight when you burn it, causing some of it to float up. Of course, most of it turns to ash at the bottom of the fire pit, but the small pieces that end up in the air can be dangerous.

You may inhale some dangerous particles, leading to various health issues. 

Even if your fire pit is far from any buildings (which it should be), some hot paper particles can travel and land on a building or even someone’s skin. Since they’re hot, this is a fire safety hazard. So, you should always avoid burning paper, especially in large quantities!

Burning Paper is Terrible for the Environment

You must consider the environment when thinking about burning paper in your fire pit. Unfortunately, burning paper causes air pollution because it releases harmful greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide.

The rising carbon dioxide levels make it harder for the earth to cool down, which is why this harmful greenhouse gas is heavily linked to global warming. So if you burn lots of paper in your fire pit, you will exacerbate this issue rather than improve it. 

The chemicals released when burning paper may also contribute to the occurrence of acid rain. Acid rain generally occurs due to harmful chemicals getting into the air, and it’s more likely to occur if you burn large amounts of paper. 

Plus, it’s even worse if you burn treated paper, but I’ll get into that in the next section!

Burning Treated Paper Is Dangerous

You might have heard that it’s dangerous and harmful for the environment to burn treated wood or even rotten wood, and it’s the same for treated paper. Some common examples of treated paper may include:

  • Magazines. Magazines have many colors and chemical coatings, which you should never burn.
  • Books. Book covers are often treated. Burning them can release many harmful chemicals. Even though a fire pit is outside in the open air, you should avoid burning books.
  • Flyers. Flyers you receive in the mail are much like books and magazines because they’re generally treated, giving them a glossy finish. So, it’s terrible to burn them.

Although burning untreated paper is terrible for the environment and sometimes dangerous, burning treated paper is much worse. Magazines, books, and flyers often have prints and glossy finishes. When these are burned, the chemicals released can be highly toxic. 

Not only are they bad for your health, but they’re also terrible for the planet. You might think burning these things is safe because your fire pit is outside, but it’s still a bad idea and can cause harm to the environment and the people around it. 

It’s a Waste of Good Paper

You most likely want to burn paper in your fire pit to get rid of it quickly and easily. Although it is technically quick and easy to burn all your paper, it’s not the best option for the reasons mentioned above.

Not only that, but it’s also a complete waste of paper! As long as the paper is clean, it can be recycled and turned into something else. Here are some examples of what recycled paper can be turned into:

  • Boxes
  • Food packaging, including egg containers
  • Shopping bags
  • Tissues

So by burning your paper, you’re preventing it from being made into something useful, and you’re harming the environment at the same time. 

Recycling Paper 

Instead of paper, you should focus on burning untreated wood in your fire pit. When it comes to paper, recycling is the best option (as I already mentioned).

One of the best ways to recycle paper is to package it into bags and bring it to the appropriate recycling center. If you have a paper shredder, you should use that first. You might wonder if scrunched-up paper can be recycled, and the answer is yes!

Even if the paper is scrunched or ripped, recycling is perfectly fine. The only time you shouldn’t recycle paper is when it’s soiled. For example, paper with food spoilage on it shouldn’t be recycled. In that case, you should dispose of it in your general waste. 

Always avoid burning it (even though you shouldn’t recycle it), especially if it’s treated paper.

Is It Safe To Burn Paper With Ink On It?

Umm no! I know, we get tons of junk in the mail and most of it seems like the perfect match for a burning fire pit, right?

Please think again! Those will in fact release toxic fumes into the air around you and perhaps travel for miles.

While it may seem like a harmless thing to do, you should avoid burning magazines, books, those coupon books that annoy ALL of us, etc.

The Best Thing To Burn in a Fire Pit

Now that you know it’s best to avoid burning paper in a fire pit, you might wonder what you can burn in one. Generally, the main thing you should burn in a fire pit is wood. However, you can’t burn any type of wood–it must be untreated. 

Here are some of the best and safest woods for a fire pit:

  • Ash
  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Cherry
  • Beech

In their natural, untreated states, these woods are dry and can be burned for many hours without producing dangerous amounts of smoke or chemicals. They’ll burn a lot longer than paper and won’t be as harmful to people and the environment.

Burning Wood Is Considered Carbon Neutral

It’s good to understand that trees release carbon dioxide as they decay. When you burn wood, the same thing occurs. 

A tree will release this carbon dioxide whether it’s burned or not, so there’s no way to escape it. That is why burning wood is considered carbon neutral because it’s simply speeding up the process of carbon dioxide being slowly emitted from decaying wood on trees.

Burning paper, on the other hand, is not carbon neutral. You should stick with the most eco-friendly options when burning things in your fire pit, so wood should always be at the top of your list!

What Happens if I Put Paper in My Fire Pit?

If you put paper in your fire pit, harmful chemicals may seep into the atmosphere. You likely won’t notice anything drastic if you only put a small amount of paper in your fire pit. But if you put a lot in, you’re more likely to notice hot particles flying around in the wind. 

Although you shouldn’t put any paper in your fire pit, stick with the untreated type if you must because it won’t contain harmful inks and finishes.


You can’t burn paper in a fire pit because it’s bad for the environment and can be dangerous if particles get into the air. When you burn paper, the smoke emits harmful greenhouse gases that are terrible for the planet. It’s even worse if you burn treated paper, such as magazines. 

Instead of burning paper in a fire pit, you should recycle it so that it can be made into something useful. Then, you can burn untreated wood in your fire pit because it’s safer and carbon neutral. Some woods that are safe to burn include ash and oak.

Was this content helpful?

Recent Posts

Legal Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, also participates in other affiliate and advertising programs, such as AdSense, ShareASale, Awin, Etsy, and CJ among others, and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.

I’d love to hear your feedback!