Burning Outdoors

Backyard Burning

Before resorting to burning:

  • Recycle through your local program or at a collection facility
  • Check what other disposal options are available for the material you want to burn 
  • Compost instead of burning leaves and clippings
  • Hire tree trimming companies to dispose of land clearing debris
  • Woody material could be turned into wood chips, particle board, wood pellets, or fuel for congeneration plants
  • Make sure the weather and venting conditions are appropriate for burning
  • Don’t burn prohibited materials

Lighting a fire contributes to smoke-caused air pollution. If you are going to light a fire, here are some important ways you can help keep the air clear:

  • Burn only during good venting conditions
  • Burn efficiently by lighting a quick burning and hot fire that produces a minimum of smoke
  • Don't starve the fire of oxygen and don't burn wet material
  • Make sure the material has been dried for at least six months

Check the Ventilation Index conditions and municipal and provincial regulations before burning.

Burning Garbage and Construction Debris

Never burn garbage or construction debris. It is illegal unless specifically authorized, and it releases toxic chemicals in the air. Effects of these toxins include cancer, lowered immunity, disorders of the nervous system, and interfere with childhood development. Reduce waste and recycle instead.

Burning may also be restricted by municipal bylaws, which often restrict the burning of garbage and other materials that produce noxious smoke.

Campfires and Beach Fires

Campfires and beach fires can release a significant amount of smoke and fine particulates into the air. Burning salt covered wood in beach fires releases dioxins and furans, which are very toxic.

These types of fires may be restricted by local bylaws, and are controlled for wildfire prevention under the Wildfire Act and Wildfire Regulation.

Outdoor Fireplaces and Chimineas

Outdoor fireplaces and chimineas don’t have emissions control and have low chimneys, which means that the smoke they produce stays in the backyard and neighbourhood, exposing residents to high concentrations of the same pollutants found in open backyard burning.