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What's your campfire made of?

Campfire burning in fire ring

You have a fire ring, a nearby water source and you checked the weather  now it's time to enjoy a campfire and night under the stars! But before you grab the matches, there's one more thing to consider: what are the "ingredients" of your fire?

"When we do fire safety talks, we focus on how important it is to keep a fire contained," said Paul Rogers, DNR fire prevention specialist. "Another vital piece of fire safety is even more basic: building it out of the right materials in the first place."

Build fires at home or camp only with natural materials like wood, brush and logs. Dry, well-seasoned wood produces the least amount of smoke. Burning plastic, foam and hazardous substances is against the law and releases chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment. This includes trash like plastic cups, food packaging, paint and electronics. Recycle or dispose of these items responsibly instead.

Many materials can be recycled through local waste management services or during community waste collection events. Search by location or substance using the Michigan Recycling Directory.

"Burning hazardous substances can release heavy metals, toxic gases and other chemicals into the air we breathe," said Jenifer Dixon, air quality liaison with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. "The ashes from waste fires can also contaminate soil and groundwater."

Knowing what goes into your campfire is important  for both you and the environment. Get fire safety information at and learn about air quality at

Story courtesy of Rachel Coale, Michigan DNR

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