Can You Burn Wood With Poison Ivy On It? What About Poison Oak or Sumac?


So you’ve just cut down a tree from your backyard and it’s covered in poison ivy. Before you clear it off and start cutting/splitting the wood pay special attention to this warning. Can you burn wood with poison ivy on it?

Never burn wood with poison ivy on it! Burning poison ivy is way more dangerous than touching it. You won’t just be dealing with an itchy rash. Breathing in the fumes and getting them in your eyes can cause serious health complications. Be careful because the leaves and vines will hold onto the toxins long after the plants dead.

It doesn’t matter how long the plants been dead, burning poison ivy is never a good idea! Inhaling urushiol oil (the active chemical in poison ivy) can cause serious health complications. Continue reading to find out when you can burn poison ivy covered wood.

What Happens If You Burn Wood With Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac?

Burning wood that’s covered in poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can cause serious health risks. It doesn’t matter if you kill the poison ivy with poison or pull it off. The oil will remain on the wood for years and may cause health problems.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, inhaling smoke can cause a rash to develop across your body, inside your nasal passages, eyes, mouth, and throat. When poisonous plants burn, they release urushiol into the air. Oil in the air may also cause long term damage to your lungs and serious breathing problems.

Removing poisonous plants like poison ivy, sumac and oak requires proper knowledge of how to handle the plant safely. Removing the vines and leaves of the plant by burning it may seem easy, but that’s a potentially dangerous option. Burning poison ivy should be avoided at all costs! So what happens when you burn poison ivy?

  • Difficulty Breathing(Seek Immediate Medical Attention): Breathing difficulties should never be ignored! The burned poison ivy oils can get in your throat and lungs causing inflamed airways that make breathing painful. While the painful rash can be serious enough to cause medical concern, but swelling is the real danger. If you’re having difficulty breathing it’s because your airways are swelling. Don’t mess around and wait to see what happens. This is a potentially life threatening situation.
  • Rash: A rash can occur from breathing in urushiol oil(oil from poison ivy, sumac, oak) or having smoke blow on you. In most cases the rash will be across your body and on the inside of your mouth/nose, but it can travel down into your throat and lungs. Speak to a doctor immediately if the rash spreads to your eyes or inside your body.
  • Fever: Fever is a common symptom after inhaling poison ivy. This is your bodies way of fighting off a foreign threat. A fever shouldn’t be ignored after coming into contact with poison ivy. It’s a sign that you’re body is struggling with dealing with the rash and may lead to infection. Seek medical attention if the fever gets above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Poison Ivy Oil Can Go Airborne and Be Life Threatening

Breathing in poison ivy can cause serious internal and external reactions. Most cases can be cured with steroids, antihistamines, and allergy medicine, but you might need immediate medical attention. Extreme allergic reactions can cause anaphylaxis, infection, symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and respiratory difficulties.

Call your doctor immediately if you notice a rash covering more than a quarter of your body, or if it spreads to your eyes, nose, mouth or genitals. Signs of anaphylaxis, including breathing difficulties, hives and swelling are signs of a serious allergic reaction. Watch out for internal and external signs of infection like red streaks or fever. Catching an infection early is crucial.

How Long Does Poison Ivy Stay On Wood?

Poison ivy stays on wood long after you kill the plant or cut down the tree. Urushiol oil will remain on the wood for over 5 years and is almost impossible to watch off. It’s better to leave logs alone that could have come into contact with poison ivy.

Urushiol Oil Sticks To Everything

Burning wood exposed to poison ivy will release the urushiol oil into the air. The oil will stick to everything it touches in the surrounding area. It will cover your clothes, body, and get into your lungs. You may even track it back into your house and expose your entire family to oil.

When Will You Be Able to Burn The Poison Ivy?

It doesn’t matter how long you wait, you should never burn wood that was previously exposed to poison ivy! Even in the winter you can contract poison ivy by touching exposed wood and burning it in your fireplace. The wood and plant may be long dead, but the urushiol oil will remain active for years.

The oil will remain active until it’s worn or washed off the wood from rain. Oil for poison ivy is extremely stable and stay potent basically forever. Wood will rot way before the oil wears away.

Removing The Bark Can Help

Removing the bark from wood can help remove the oils, but it’s a serious hassle. Be careful since you still risk coming into contact with the oil. You’re better off skipping the poisonous wood and getting your wood from somewhere else.

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