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Can You Burn Carpet? Risks, Concerns, & FAQ

burning woods in a fireplace

Although they have low burnability, carpets are one of the household items that are often considered burnable. But is it okay to burn one or even safe? No. It’s not safe or okay for the environment, or you.

Carpets, like most synthetic materials, are made of fibers. These fibers are often manufactured using chemical substances, that are bonded together using chemical bonds.

Heat is a form of energy that has been known to weaken these bonds. Ultimately, compelling the tiny molecules that constitute the substances to dissociate. What happens when the molecules are no longer attached to each other? Well, they are all released into the atmosphere as toxic elements that could easily compromise our health in the long run.

That’s just a brief rundown of what could happen. Read on to find out more:

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Consequences of Burning Carpet

Environmental Repercussions

As we’ve already noted, the different stylish carpets that have flooded our markets today have been made using synthetic fiber. That’s the primary raw material, complemented by small amounts of wool and cotton.

Of course, we’re normally worried about the effects of burning cotton and wool, but not as much as those caused by fibers. You see, on top of the harmful chemicals that constitute them, these fibers also have dye and latex, which happen to have other toxic substances in them.

Burning all of them means that you’ll be creating a chain reaction that releases several toxic gasses into the atmosphere. Gasses that are poisonous in nature, to not only us, but animals as well. One such gas is the carbon II oxide gas.

Carbon II oxide is a greenhouse gas. This is the type of gas that influences our atmospheric temperatures at any one given moment in time. If at any point in time its concentration drops, our planet cools and the water vapor in the atmosphere condenses. That process is what usually results in the precipitations that we experience, in the form of snow, sleet, and rain.

But when the concentration goes up, so does the air temperature and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere which causes what’s known as the greenhouse effect.

What are the consequences of this phenomenon?
  • Extinction and migration of different species
  • Frequent hurricanes
  • Flooding
  • Reduction in the global food supply
  • Desertification of fertile areas
  • Thawing of glacial masses
pattern carpet
Image By: sharonang, Pixabay

Challenges of Burning Latex

Some people like to use the words “latex” and “rubber” interchangeably. But that shouldn’t be the case, seeing as latex is the byproduct of milk juice, a product of the rubber tree. Rubber, on the other hand, is a synthetic substance, usually made using petrochemical raw materials. So even though both of them are technically rubber, one’s natural while the other is artificial.

While rubber is stronger and more durable than latex, our carpets are made using latex. Its moderate tensile strength is what gives them the ability to stretch, whenever we need them to. Unfortunately for those looking to burn carpet, this means they won’t have an easy time burning it to ashes.

If you’ve ever tried to burn rubber before, you’ll know it doesn’t quite ignite readily. You’ll have to ramp up the temperatures to 200ºC or more.  And once it does, containing that smoke or fire will feel like a Herculean task, as you’ll have a hard time breathing.

Rubber contains nitrosamines. If that word sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve heard it in conversations involving tobacco-affiliated products and smoke.

There are several studies that have found that workers in the rubber industry risk suffering from effects caused by prolonged exposure to nitrosamine. It could cause cancers of the liver, prostate, lung, and esophagus, among others.

Washing off the ashes of burnt carpet is not easy. Those ashes are stickier than usual, thus creating a hideous and unhealthy environment.

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What’s the Safest Way to Dispose of a Carpet?

Disposing of a carpet is not something unusual. People do it all the time, especially after installing a new one. The method of disposal is not rocket science either. There are many ways of going about it, but these are our most preferred options:

Talk To a Retailer

We feel like this has to be the easiest way to dispose of a carpet. Let’s assume you’re planning to buy and install a new one. The guy selling you the carpet has to know all there is to know about the installation process and disposal.

However, there’s a caveat. And it’s the fact that you’ll have to pay for the service rendered.  As we’ve already established, removing a carpet and disposing of it is no small feat. In addition, that wasn’t part of their job. So if you need the favor done, you’ll have to cater to the costs involved. How much is it going to cost? That depends on a number of factors, including the size of the carpet and the company involved.

paint spilled on carpet
Image By: McKinleys, Shutterstock

Reach Out to a Carpet Installer

Say you got the carpet from a store that doesn’t offer such services. That’s okay. Don’t fret because we still have a second option—the carpet installer.

The installer will come in, assess the situation, run the numbers, and then give you a rough estimate. From what we’ve heard, they often charge around $15 to $25 to remove an old carpet, depending on the space. Some prefer working with a rate of $1 per square meter, so just remember to ask beforehand.

Bear in mind, this isn’t the charge for disposing of an old carpet but for removing it. The disposal charge will be added to the price of installing it. They’ll let you know how much they’ll be charging, if you need that carpet disposed of.

Do they always offer such services? No. And that’s why you have to ask, before hiring. If the one you’ve found doesn’t, look for a different fitter. They are not that hard to find. Also, by law, they are required to have a trash carrier’s license.

Who said old carpets are useless? Surely, you must have realized by now that you could always use it to spruce up your garden, or as an animal bedspread. And if these options don’t sound appealing, you could always donate it to someone who would love to carpet their house.

We also have people who are always on the market looking for users selling old carpets. However, they’ll only entertain that ideal if your carpet is not too faded and doesn’t look stained. Although the probability of finding such a person is low, it’s still worth a try.

carpet roll installation
Image By: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

Call a Recycling Agent

Another safe alternative is discarding the carpet at a recycling center. It’s also the best alternative for people who prefer living a frugal lifestyle, as it’s cost-effective.

The only disadvantage here is the fact that you’ll be the one transporting the carpet to the site. That means there’s a very high likelihood that you’ll have to make multiple trips until the job’s done. It’s obviously a daunting task and tedious in a way. Not to mention the carpet fluff disaster that you’ll have to deal with at the end of it all!

Side Note: Not all recycling centers take carpets. As a matter of fact, most of them don’t. So please remember to call one of the agents beforehand.

divider 1 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Burning Carpet Illegal?

It has actually been banned in some states, and some countries. As a global community, we are slowly realizing that burning synthetic fibers and all the other chemical components found in carpets contribute to global warming.

The gasses and toxins released during the combustion process also endanger human lives so some governments have decided to do something about it.

Is It Okay to Use a Fire Pit to Burn Carpet?

First off, for that carpet to completely burn to ashes, you’ll need something that burns at a relatively high temperature. We have pits that burn hot but not to the level required for that kind of task.

Secondly, you’ll be exposing yourself, family, and friends, to toxic fumes. Your respiratory systems will be compromised, and before you know it, you’re all grappling with various conditions.

What’s The Color of Smoke Released When a Carpet Burns?

The color of the smoke emanating from a burning substance can tell you a lot about its composition. For example, if it’s sort of whitish in color, chances are you’re burning fuels such as wood, twigs, grass, or any other light fuel that fits the profile. But if it’s the thick or black kind, that substance is a heavy fuel, and it’s not being consumed properly.

The smoke emanating from burning carpet is usually black. And it’s an indicator that your carpet contains lots of carcinogens—a carcinogen is any substance that has the potential of causing cancer.

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Burning carpet is never a good idea. You could get away with it, even if you’re in a state that prohibits the practice, but we implore you to think about our ecosystems. Many animals are depending on us to preserve their homes and shield them from extinction. Think about your health as well, and that of your family.

Featured Image Credit: JerzyGorecki, Pixabay


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