Worst Wood for Pyrography:
Your 'Do NOT Burn' List

Burning the wrong wood for pyrography can cost you big time. People in our community have spent dayyyys in the hospital with lesions in their lungs because they weren’t careful.

Think before you burn.

I get it. Must. Try. New. Things.

But hold up buttercup. If you use THIS wood, you might be sorry.

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Green Wood

Green wood - like freshly fallen wood or downed trees - has a lot of water and sap.

Both sap and water make a lot of smoke.

Plus they slow down burning.

Water makes the wood more burn-resistant and sap gums up your tips while doing the same annoying thing water does.

Some people are extremely allergic to certain kinds of tree sap too.

If you're worried about that, go look what general hazards you might be up against.

Here's a guide to common wood allergies and toxicities.

Pretty much every wood has a warning of some kind, so make your best judgement call.

Drift Wood

Did you know that the chlorine in sea salt converts to cancer causing nastiness when it’s burned?

Sea-soaked drift wood has this salt.

Best to avoid this one.

Chemically Treated Anythings

Painted. Stained. Sealed.

Anything with a finish or glue. These are terrible for burning.

Usually the fumes that these put out cause headaches or make you feel weird. That’s your body sending you a clue – hey genius, this stuff ain’t good for you!

Examples of other things people burn a LOT that should NEVER be burned are wood pallets, plywood, and chipboard.

It's been chemically treated, peeps. All of it.


Stay away.

Poisonous Woods

Woods that have natural poisons in them can create toxic fumes and sometimes even spread their poisons through the air when burned.

Some examples…

  • Oleander
  • Mexican Elder
  • Mexican Pepper

Is your wood poisonous? Ask Mother Google if you don’t know.

Obviously (but just in case), don’t burn any wood for pyrography with “poison” in the name – like poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak.

Smokey Woods

This is a gray area.

Some fairly popular woods in the wood burning community include smokey woods, like…

  • Pine
  • Cypress
  • Fir

Again, these are popular - but you don't want to breathe that stuff.

I can't stop you from burning smokey wood (and I have to admit, I'm guilty of this one too). But make sure you’re wearing your P95 safety mask and using all the right safety tools when you burn smokey woods.

Choose wood for pyrography Wisely

I know you’re going to burn whatever you want to burn. But stop and think.

Is it really worth it?

Stay away from the woods above and use these woods instead - the best woods for pyrography.

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