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Build a cleaner campfire for a better s'more

Hotdogs cooking over a campfire.Marshmallows, hot dogs and kebabs are classic fireside fare. Peaches are trending, and there's no better way to start the day than with a cast-iron skillet breakfast fresh off the fire. We're talking campfire cooking and bonfire season!

As we welcome these summer traditions, Air Quality Awareness Week -- May 3 to 7 this year -- reminds us to keep campfires safe and clean by carefully choosing what they're made from. In a crowded environment like a campground or neighborhood, making fires out of the right materials is especially important for protecting the health and safety of you and those around you.

To start, build a campfire out of the driest, most well-seasoned wood you can find. Get it locally to avoid spreading invasive insects and tree diseases, and make sure to burn it all before you leave for another location. Dry wood produces the least amount of irritating smoke, meaning you'll spend less time repositioning around the fire ring chanting a version of "I hate white rabbits" in an attempt to ward off those pesky clouds.

Natural materials like wood, brush and branches can be burned. However, avoid burning treated wood, which often can be identified by a manufacturer's stamp and a greenish color. Treated wood releases arsenic and other toxic chemicals in the air when burned.

Likewise, don't toss trash, plastic food wrappers, foam cups or hazardous materials in your campfire -- it's illegal, not to mention stinky and unhealthy. It's worth the extra effort to properly dispose of trash to keep the air clean and keep a bad taste out of your mouth if you plan to cook s'mores or other fireside foods over the fire.

Use the Michigan Recycling Directory to learn where to recycle difficult-to-dispose materials.

Get fire safety information at and learn about air quality at

Story provided by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Photo caption: Hotdogs cooking over a campfire.

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