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Can You Burn a Christmas Tree? Types, Facts, & FAQ

a pile of discarded christmas trees

Christmas is one of the most beloved times of the year. Best known as the season of giving, those who find themselves in festive moods enjoy not only spending time with family and friends, but also decorating their homes with Christmas trees, gifts, wreaths, and other seasonal novelties. Of these decorations, the most popular is the Christmas tree. This is the centerpiece of most family gatherings and gift-giving festivities.

Once the holiday season ends, and all the food and presents have been enjoyed, most families are left with a Christmas tree to dispose of. While artificial trees are convenient and storable until the next year, live trees are popular among those who want a truly festive holiday experience. The issue is, what do you do with your cut Christmas tree when the holidays are over?

Burning your Christmas tree is naturally a common idea. Unfortunately, burning your Christmas tree isn’t the safest method of disposal. Let’s learn a bit more about how you should dispose of your Christmas tree so you and your family can have a fun holiday that is also safe.

trees & plants divider

What Is a Christmas Tree?

If you’re like many of us, you grew up with a Christmas tree in your home every holiday season. These trees are usually evergreens such as spruces or firs. The use of these trees can be dated back to customs held by ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, and Chinese. For these people, trees symbolized eternal life. Over the years, the use of trees was adapted by many cultures and religions to make them part of their holiday celebrations. Now, Christmas trees are decorated with lights, ornaments, garland, and even mistletoe to help cement their place in the home as a holiday centerpiece and the perfect area to place all the wrapped gifts.

christmas tree farm
Image Credit: Pixabay

The Types of Christmas Trees

As we’ve already mentioned, those who celebrate the holidays with a Christmas tree have two options. You can either choose an artificial tree or a real evergreen tree. When it comes to choosing the right tree for your family, it’s all up to personal choice. Let’s take a look at each tree below.

Artificial Trees

One of the most common reasons families choose to use artificial trees is convenience. These trees can be bought once, then stored for years to come. This allows you to avoid purchasing a live tree every year, disposing of a tree, and can even be passed down through families as a holiday heirloom. Many families prefer these trees as they don’t require a lot of care and attention throughout the holidays and come in multiple styles and colors.

When the time comes to dispose of an artificial tree, donating them is a common form of disposal. If not, you can even check about recycling them at your local center. Burning these types of trees, however, isn’t very practical as they can combust quickly and may become a hazard.

Christmas tree on a wall_Pascal Claivaz_Pexels
Image Credit: Pascal Claivaz, Pexels

Real Trees

While real trees may not come in multiple colors, you do have a lot of options with these trees. You can purchase fuller-sized or smaller trees. You can also choose to have a fresh-cut tree or a potted tree that often still has the root ball included. Many families choose this type of tree due to the tradition involved. Part of many holiday memories begins with the family traveling to choose the perfect tree at your local tree farm.

The disposal of live Christmas trees is quite different from methods used for artificial trees. Considering the fact these trees are real, and in most situations, dry due to their use throughout the holidays, many people feel burning them is a logical step. This is simply not the case. Instead, it is best to look into safer forms of disposal like these:

  • Local Christmas tree recycling resources
  • Take it to a local composting site or landfill
  • Give it to animal groups as a source of use for animals in their care
  • If the root ball is intact, simply plant the tree in your yard
  • Have your tree turned into mulch

The Dangers of Burning a Real Christmas Tree

As we’ve already discussed, burning an artificial tree isn’t a practical idea. The same can be said for a live tree. Considering trees are made from wood, you may consider burning them when you’re finished as a practical means of disposal or recycling. Some families even consider doing this in their fireplace or burn pit.

Unfortunately, this is a very dangerous idea as some of the needles can produce smoke that can be toxic. The needles also spark quite a bit and can make this dangerous in and around your home. You’ll also potentially damage your fireplace with creosote since your tree, although it’s dead, isn’t completely dry. All these reasons together are why burning your Christmas tree isn’t the safest choice when the time comes to dispose of it after your celebrations.

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Final Thoughts

While dealing with a real Christmas tree after the holidays may be a bit of a nuisance, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy these trees for your holidays. With the emergence of more recycling methods and ways of making your life easier, don’t let disposal change your preferences on trees. Just keep in mind that burning your tree after the holidays can be dangerous for you and your home. If you remember this, these gorgeous trees can easily make your home a festive gathering place for your entire family.


Featured Image Credit: Cory Seamer, Shutterstock

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