The spring and fall time sees an increase in the burning of yard materials, but that shouldn’t cause as much of a concern because natural products are safe to burn.
Duane Friend, an educator with the Illinois extension office in Jacksonville says problems have increased in recent years because what is being burned has changed over the decades.
“It use to be just paper or yard materials, but as we have gotten more and more consumer products we want to git rid of we put those in our burn barrels,” says Friend.
“For a lot of those products, when they burn they don’t burn completely.”
Friend adds that a major problem with burn barrels is that the materials being placed inside don’t burn well.
“I think the big thing is if you can avoid putting in products that are going to create a potential problem like plastics,” says Friend.
“If you can do more of the natural type of materials like newspapers and cardboard you are going to get a more complete burn. You wont have as much residual products or worry about the smoke coming off it either.”
Without enough oxygen in the burning process, the temperature in the fire will be lowered, leading to an incomplete burn and more pollution in the form of smoke. Friend notes several other tips to residents planning to burn.
“If somebody wants to use a burn barrel and they want to make the air flow better it is good to put some holes down into the bottom of the barrel to allow air to flow through it more,” says Friend.
“Probably one of the big things is not to load up the barrel as big as it can be with those materials because that will constrict the airflow down there and not allow the materials at the bottom to burn completely. It is good to have as much airflow as possible so you can allow that material to combust as readily as possible.”
A 55 gallon barrel is most commonly used for burning, according the Friend. Regulations require that all burning must take place at least a mile outside of towns with a population of 1,000 residents or more.
For a full list on what you can and cannot burn go online to http://www.epa.state.il.us/.