What NOT to burn on Bonfire Night!

Bonfire night has got to be one of our most popular national celebrations. It brings together our love of history, sense of danger and that most ancient of wonders - making fire. A Bonfire Night done well will leave you inspired, nostalgic and reconnected. Done badly, it could mean falling out with your neighbours, a hefty fine, and physical illness. Don’t be alarmed though, this can be easily avoided!

Apart from setting off fireworks late into the night and frightening pets, the biggest complaint about Bonfire Night is the smoke and pollution that it can cause. Why? Well in the past it has been a time to burn all sorts of rubbish from old mattresses and treated wooden furniture to old tyres and green garden waste.

The Environment Agency have ruled that you are allowed to have a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night as long as its size is appropriate for the event. Regarding what to burn, they state that you can only burn visibly clean wood that has not been painted or treated with preservatives; branches and leaves; and only small quantities of card and paper are necessary to start the fire. What you can’t burn is the following:

  • Green or damp garden waste

  • painted or treated wood

  • foam-filled furniture

  • items containing polystyrene

  • old furniture

  • plastics and glass

  • aerosols

  • tins of paint and oil

  • tyres and metal

The reason you shouldn’t burn this type of material is that it can cause excessive smoke and noxious fumes, harmful to you, your neighbours and the environment. In fact if you are caught illegally disposing of waste on a bonfire you can face a fine of up to £50,000.

Why only small amounts of paper and card? I know they seem harmless, but they can turn to light ash and can carry on the wind as embers, which can be a danger to buildings and neighbouring properties.

Our advice? Burn dry wood! Even better, have your bonfire in an enclosed fire pit and use kiln-dried or seasoned wood which gives the best clean burn of all.

Have fun and stay safe!

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