Burning wood and barbecuing sensibly

The smoke from burning wood and charcoal creates small particle pollution. In big cities like The Hague burning wood at home is a bigger source of air pollution than road traffic.

Wood fires during the corona crisis? Rather not!

People who have respiratory problems or difficulty breathing are housebound more often during these times. They are at greater risk if they get infected with the coronavirus. This group is often affected if their neighbours burn a fire. Would you like to help your neighbours? Make sure the smoke is not blowing their way and try not to use your woodburning stove, fireplace, barbecue or fire basket for the time being.

When a fireplace or woodburning stove burns for 1 hour, it produces 5 times as much air pollution as 1 hour of driving a car in the city. Using your fireplace or woodburning stove less often already helps to make the air cleaner.

Are you burning wood outdoors or are you going to barbecue? There are many ways to do this as cleanly as possible. In this way you prevent health issues for yourself and your neighbours.

Health risks

Breathing in fine particles can lead to breathing difficulties and a heart condition. Read more about the health risks of burning wood on the website of the GGD.

Tips

The municipality is happy to give you tips on burning wood, barbecuing and using your fire basket as cleanly as possible.

Tips for cleaner wood burning 

  • When buying a fireplace or woodburning stove pay attention to how much heat it produces for the space it needs to heat. Often a smaller woodburning stove is sufficient. Ask for advice.
  • Do not burn wood in the fireplace when there is no wind or in misty weather. The gasses will remain in your house. This is harmful for your health.
  • It is most important that the wood should be sufficiently dry. You can recognise dry wood from the loose bark and cracks on the side. You can also check whether it is dry enough using a moisture meter. Only burn clean wood. It is prohibited to burn painted, varnished or preserved wood, waste timber and chipboard. This will emit harmful substances, which harm the environment and our health.
  • When burning wood in the stove completely open the flap to the chimney and the sliding door of the stove. A good woodburning stove has a flap to regulate the air supply. Is the fire getting too hot? Decease the amount of wood. Never completely close off the air supply. It is also good to ventilate the space where you are burning wood. A woodfire uses a lot of oxygen. Always crack open a window or door to ensure there is enough fresh air.
  • Light blocks in the woodburning stove or fireplace from the top using firelighters. This causes less smoke.
  • You can check whether you are burning wood correctly. Look at the colour of the smoke coming out of your chimney. No colour is a good sign. White, grey, black or blue smoke is a bad sign. The colour of the flame in the woodburning stove is also important. It should be bright yellow. You can correct an orange, uneven flame by increasing the supply of air.  
  • Tip: let the fire extinguish by itself without closing the regulating flap.
  • Have your chimney cleaned once a year by a professional. For more information go to the website schoorsteenveger.nl.

  • It is wise to insulate your chimney and flue well and to make sure the chimney fits the size of your fireplace or woodburning stove. Ask an installation company for advice.

Tips for using a barbecue or fire basket

  • Check the direction of the wind before you light the fire and warn the neighbours. They can then close their windows in time.
  • Use dry firewood for the fire basket. This produces less smoke and fewer health risks than moist wood. You can recognise dry wood from the loose bark and cracks on the side. You can also check it using a moisture meter.
  • Light the fire basket or outdoor fireplace from the top using firelighters. This causes less smoke.
  • Would you nevertheless prefer to barbecue using charcoal? But do you live in a densely-populated area or is your garden part of an enclosed garden? Go to a public barbecuing spot. The municipality has designated a number of spots in parks for this purpose. You can find more information on the page Barbecuing rules in The Hague.

Alternatives

Would you like to buy a fireplace or a woodburning stove? Consider other ways of heating your home. For example:

  • air source heat pumps

  • solar panels

  • infrared heating panels

  • pellet stove

  • electric patio heater or barbecue

Nuisance

Are you bothered by your neighbours’ smoke? First try to work something out with them yourself. Keep notes on the times the smoke has been a nuisance. Ask your neighbours to keep track of when they light a fire. If you are not able to reach an understanding, you can ask the housing corporation or the municipality to intervene. Look for more information under Report domestic nuisance.

RIVM woodburning alert

In unfavourable weather conditions such as little wind and mist, the smoke lasts longer. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) issues a woodburning alert calling on people not to burn wood. You can sign up for the alert. You will then receive an email when there is a woodburning alert. More information can be found at rivm.nl/stookalert.

More information

Watch the video Zo steek je veilig je houtkachel aan (YouTube channel of the municipality)

    Published: 18 June 2021Modified: 18 June 2021