What happens if you burn unseasoned wood

Are rhododendrons and mountain laurel really poisonous to burn around a campfire?

Poisonous plants are usually more dangerous if you burn them. This applies at least to plants with oily toxins (poison ivy / oak). Toxins in plants are not necessarily vaporized when burned. Smoke is a particle, not a vapor. If you burn something toxic, the toxins can potentially be carried over by smoke particles and inhaled, which is far more dangerous than consuming it in some cases. Dead plants can also be poisonous.

The toxin in rhododendron and mountain lily is grayanotoxin. Every safety data sheet I've looked at says that grayanotoxin is fatal if inhaled. But that is for purely manufactured grayanotoxin II.

Besides that believes this guy that rhododendron great Firewood makes:

"Another property of rhododendrons is that it is excellent firewood supplies - even if it's green. It is a fast growing hardwood with a very high calorific content, and the stems of larger plants are so thick that they can easily be sawn into logs These are perfect for an open fire or a wood stove suitable . I took rhododendron logs home to burn in my wood stove in winter , but a particularly good use for the rhododendron firewood is on site, where I have to keep warm during the winter when I work there. Burning rhododendrons means that if I clear the rhododendron out of the forest, I can produce firewood, which means I don't have to have a large pile of spices and don't have to cut deciduous trees and season them for use as firewood on site. I can let it stand and let it grow. So rhododendron has become my basic firewood and leaves the trees for better purposes. "

And the Scottish Government recommends burning rhododendrons to control its spread as an invasive species. So it seems that when burned it is at least less toxic than poison ivy or poison oak.

They say that one of the first signs of rhododendron poisoning is salivation. I suppose you could have a campfire in your yard and see if the smoke makes you drool ... but I guess the fact that the guy on the blog praises rhododendron as firewood he does inside burns and that's still alive and blogging means it's probably okay to burn for heat outside. I probably wouldn't breathe the smoke ... or fry hot dogs over a grayanotoxin fire ...

To edit:

There are over 1000 species of rhododendrons / azaleas. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, and even ingesting 0.2% of a person's body weight can lead to poisoning. Clinical symptoms when ingested include gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite), cardiovascular symptoms (e.g. abnormal heart rate, irregular heartbeat, weakness, hypotension), and central nervous system signs (e.g., abnormal heart rate, irregular heartbeat, weakness, hypotension) B. Depression, tremors), temporary blindness, seizures, coma, etc.). The overall prognosis is fair with treatment.

When burned, the gryanotoxin is destroyed at temperatures of 150 degrees Celsius and above, and no evidence of toxicity has been found in the smoke or in the coals of the rhododendron plant. It is a hard, long-burning wood and is safe to use.

However, inhalation of smoke from a fire can have adverse health effects and should generally be avoided.


@manoftheson - The measure is three ... three units of toxicity ... (Brian Regan anyone?) What kind of measure would you find useful? Do you want to know how many parts per million you are going to kill? How many moves until you get a buzz? I could probably figure out how much is in wood, how it reacts to fire, and how much is actually released into the air, but how much of that would you find useful? What do you want to know, exactly?


@manoftheson - It appears that grayanotoxin is destroyed when exposed to high heat, so the smoke from the burning rhododendron does not contain toxins. See my edited answer.


I definitely laughed there. And fair enough, I wanted more specificity, but wasn't specific enough yet. And where did you find out that it is destroyed by heat?


@manoftheson - It wasn't of anything solid, I think I'm curious enough now that I'll investigate further until I find something reliable. I found some sources that said cooking the plant neutralized the toxin, but this contradicted the higher burn temperature ...


@ShemSeger Do you have references for the information added in the edit?