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Why Burning Wrapping Paper Could Be Dangerous: A Post-Christmas Special

burning wrapping paper

One of the best things about Christmas, of course, is finally getting to unwrap those presents under the tree – finally finding out what was in that big box.  “Oh, it’s a smaller box inside a bigger box.  Great, how clever.  I had no idea it was actually socks this whole time.  And here I am excited thinking it was that microwave I needed.  Thanks.”  Yes, opening presents is great fun, but what we’re left with is a big ole pile of wadded up wrapping paper. And once you finally tear that last crumpled up ball from the mouth of your dog (that’s been running around the house with it and shaking it all about) you might feel compelled to just toss it in the fireplace and be done with it.  Well, if you’re like me you’ve heard over and over that you shouldn’t burn your discarded Christmas wrapping paper.  But what’s the deal with that warning and why shouldn’t we just toss that holiday detritus into the fireplace?

Wood, paper, and other organic substances all burn at a maximum of 2000 degrees Celsius.  This is called the adiabatic temperature, or the theoretical maximum.  Now, the actual flame is a lot less than this and it varies widely on how much oxygen it can get and how well the substance burns, i.e. how wet it is.

Another factor in how paper can burn faster is how quickly oxygen can combine with the fuel.  Logs in a fireplace have more mass and more potential heat energy and can burn longer, but the paper has a much higher ratio of surface to mass and can burn quicker.  The paper can basically pump out more heat and far faster.

Seasonal hazard

So this holiday season, and the holidays that follow, think twice about burning that paper in the fireplace.  If you don’t want to reuse the paper then your best bet is to chuck ’em all into a garbage and let the city take it away.

Hey, you can also visit this link here for Ten Uses for Used Wrapping paper.

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