Burning with Wood

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Interested in heating with wood?Guide to Residential Wood Heating

If you're considering heating with wood, or already have a wood-burning appliance in your home, read NRCAN's A Guide to Residential Wood Heating the informative website Woodheat.org.

Selecting and installing your stove

Solid fuel burning appliances installed within the City of Whitehorse must meet the CSA standard for solid fuel burning appliances or the U.S. standard. Click for guidelines on the installation and use of stoves, ranges, and space heaters that burn solid fuel. A building permit is required to install or replace a stove in your house.

Authorization for wood cutting permit

  • For quantities larger than 1 cord in Wolf Creek / Mary Lake / Sewage Lagoon / Haeckel Hill / Copper Haul Road, please obtain approval directly from Yukon Forestry (Mile 918.07 Alaska Hwy). Apply online at https://emr.eservices.gov.yk.ca/pubEMR/PUFWSignin.aspx
  • For small quantities (less than 1 cord) within City limits that are blown down trees only, please obtain approval from Parks and Community Development using this online form or this PDF form, prior to obtaining a permit from Yukon Forestry (Mile 918.07 Alaska Hwy).

Burning fuel wood

  • Only burn dry, seasoned fire wood
  • Start fire only with newspaper and kindling
  • Wood should be seasoned for 3-12 months (to reach 15% moisture content).
  • Dry wood burns more efficiently. Burning green wood is inefficient, leads to incomplete combustion, excessive smoke and creosote build-up.
  • Split your wood to expose more surface area and improve drying.
  • Stack wood to allow good air circulation.
  • Cover your wood to keep it dry.
  • It is illegal to burn:
    • waste (paper, plastic, cardboard, magazines)
    • composite wood (plywood, particle board)
    • painted or treated wood 

Maintain your stove for your health and safety

  • Remove cold ashes frequently. This maintains air circulation around the wood which increases hot burn.
  • Ashes removed from a wood burning appliance should be placed directly into a metal receptacle with a tight fitting lid. This receptacle should then be placed out of doors onto a non-combustive surface (concrete or gravel) well away from any combustibles. After a minimum of one week, cold ashes can be bagged and added to your black cart, or saved for your garden.
  • Reduce risk of chimney fire by brushing your chimney regularly to clean out creosote.
  • Consult a certified WETT technician to inspect and clean your chimney to remove creosote build-up, check dampers and pipe for deterioration or corrosion.

Carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless gas that is created through burning. If your stove or chimney is not operating properly, carbon monoxide can leak into your home and can be fatal.

Refer to the Yukon government's website on carbon monoxide for more information.

Wood smoke and your health

View the City's brochure on wood smoke. 

Wood smoke can affect human health. Proper burning practices can reduce health risks.

  • Wood smoke contains small particles that can cause coughing, headaches and irritation to the throat. Children, elders and people with heart conditions are most susceptible to wood smoke pollutants. 
  • Some contaminants from burning clean-dry wood can affect your health:
    • Small particles can lead to serious respiratory issues.
    • Carbon monoxide can cause fatigue, headaches, and nausea and can lead to death.
    • Formaldehyde triggers asthma, coughing.
    • Hydrocarbons can cause damage to lungs.
    • Acrolein can cause eye & respiratory irritation.
    • Click here for more information on the health effects of wood smoke.          
  • Wood smoke should be white or invisible. Grey or black smoke means there is a problem with your fuel, burning practices, stove or chimney.
  • Never burn glossy paper (magazines, photographs), white office paper, cardboard, plastic, Styrofoam, or aluminum. These produce very toxic smoke, and can damage your stove’s expensive catalytic converter.

The Government of Yukon, in partnership with the City of Whitehorse and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, organizes public engagement sessions throughout Whitehorse to increase awareness and seek feedback and innovative recommendations from community members.

View the Government of Yukon's What we heard document on Wood smoke in Whitehorse neighbourhoods.

Open burning

Firepit 1

A burning permit is required for all open burning. Open burning permits can be obtained through Bylaw Services from October 1 to March 31, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Public Services Building.

Backyard Fire Pit permits are issued by the Whitehorse Fire Department (867) 668-2462.

Click here for information about backyard fire pits.

From October 1 - October 31, all persons requesting a permit will have to have the burning location inspected prior to burning.

Inspections are conducted with the permittee to ensure the conditions listed on the permit are being followed.

Some quick reminders to persons requesting a Open Burning Permit:

  • The fire must be attended at all times.
  • Identify a safe location of burn site away from other combustible materials i.e. 20 meters from a structure.
  • Ensure permit holders call 668-2462 prior to burning, so smoke or fire seen in the area is not confused with an actual residential fire.
  • Never use gasoline to light your fire.
  • Keep children away from the fire.
  • Keep pile size small enough to control in the location of the burn site.
  • Avoid large duff or surface fuel areas as they can be difficult to extinguish and can smolder under the surface for long periods. If you plan on burning later in the season these smoldering fires can surface when the snow melts.
  • A permittee accepts full responsibility for any damage or injury caused by and uncontrolled fire.
  • Only natural wood products can be burned.
  • Fires must be extinguished if unattended. 

From November 1 - March 31, all persons requesting a permit will have to provide a photo of the burn location at the Bylaw office prior to the issuance of a permit.

A photo on a cell phone can be shown instead of a paper copy to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19.

Please remember, just because snow, ice and cold temperatures are here does not mean things don’t burn. The conditions on the permit are to guide residents in safe open burning activities and to avoid combustion of equipment, a home, and prevent accidental ignition. 

For further questions, please contact Fire Dispatch at 668-2462 or the Deputy Fire Chief at 668-8640.