Trashing Wrapping Paper, Avoiding Metals Fires

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Though experts advise against it, some people toss holiday wrapping paper into a fireplace.
Photo Credit: iStockPhotos/NPR

As the holidays wind down, it’s time for holiday gifts to finally make an escape. Flung aside, holiday wrapping paper is eventually recycled, thrown to the dump, or used in warm, winter fire. But NPR warns that burning wrapping paper in the fireplace isn’t particularly simple — or safe.

Most people love a cozy fire in the dead of winter, especially anyone who was blessed with a white Christmas this year. However, the metal content in wrapping paper makes your holiday trash unsuitable for the fireplace, prone to create a sudden chimney fire. Certain ink pigments in wrapping paper rely on metals for their festive holiday colors, and these metals don’t react well with heat. Barium-based pigments, for example, can lead to green sparks in the fireplace, similar to fireworks. Yellow pigment, or lead chromate, can cause worse problems: airborne particles unsafe to breathe; flames rising to the chimney and creating a small, but dangerous explosion. Let the fire roast chestnuts, not the tinsel and the bows, and avoid a metals fire by recycling or storing wrapping paper in a safe place.

–Amy Edwards

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