I'll admit it, when I was young and daft there was a time when I would have happily burned driftwood, not only on the beach watching the sun go down, but in my open fire at home as well. Free fuel, what could be better? Well, just about anything else actually. It might look great with its smooth sun-bleached and apparently bone dry, bark-free surfaces but I'm pleased to tell you that I know much better now. I'm definitely done with it, so let me explain why you should avoid it if you haven't already.
Driftwood is just as bad a wood as it can get when you burn it. It's been saturated in sea salt, probably for many years, and when you burn it this can release an excess of chemicals that you won't find in any significant levels in regular seasoned firewood. When you're sitting around a driftwood bonfire you'll be inhaling a toxic chemical known as dioxin. Burning the absorbed salt releases sodium and chlorine ions which form dioxins that are carcinogenic. People with bronchitis or asthma are particularly vulnerable from breathing these in. When you regularly fire driftwood in a stove the toxic fumes also have the potential to quickly corrode your stove and flue components. You should certainly never cook food over a driftwood fire as the food will absorb the dioxins which are known to 'bioaccumulate'. This means that they can build up in your body over time to cause serious health problems. Still like the look of that toasted marshmallow?
It's so much healthier and convenient to bring along a bag of 'Ready to Burn' firewood, that way you don't have to spend ages combing the beach and you can be sure that your fire is going to light quickly and give a brilliantly luminous flame to light up everybody's faces as the sun goes down. When the embers are glowing red they will also be safe to cook over. Since 'Ready to Burn' wood, with its guaranteed less than 20% moisture content, burns so well there will be very little ash left at the end, unlike the half burned bits of saltwater soaked driftwood littering the beaches that you often come across – and of course you won't be poisoning yourself.
To find out more about 'Ready to Burn' firewood please go to www.readytoburn.org