How To Burn Wet Leaves? Easy DIY Solutions

During fall or winter, I have to deal with a lot of wet leaves piling over my yard due to the dew. Removing them is a huge hassle as well, as they’re a lot in quantity, and finding an appropriate location to discard them is also tough.

In such situations, burning them is a great option. It takes less effort, and I don’t have to worry about transportation. But how to burn wet leaves? They hardly burn in fire due to the moisture. Well, worry not!

In this article, I will give you all the tricks and tips on how to execute this task efficiently. You also need to be very careful dealing with combustions as they release smoke and can spread quickly. Read more about it below:

Can I Burn Leaves?

In many areas, burning leaves might be legal, but it’s not a good idea, especially in urban areas and drought-affected areas. Leaves can be mulched, composted, or disposed of with your local solid waste department as alternatives to burning.

How To Burn Wet Leaves Efficiently?

Burning wet leaves is challenging as the moisture repels the fire from igniting. Moreover, if you burn wet leaves, a lot more smoke is created in the air, which harms the environment and our health.

It can affect our respiratory system and contribute to air pollution. But you need to remove these huge piles of leaves as it hinders our mobility in the yard. Burning them is best, as wet leaves will otherwise stick to your feet and equipment.

How can you get this job done as quickly as possible by minimizing all the bad effects? Well, I am giving some of the most efficient ways to burn moist leaves. Take a look at them below:

1. Use Burn Barrels

Burn barrels are a great way to dispose of moist leaves as they generate fires efficiently and keep them within a restricted space.

To burn your leaves in this method, take a large metal drum, barrel, or burn barrel. Create at least 10 to 15 holes in it, depending on the size of the barrel, to regulate proper ventilation.

Afterward, put some wood into it and light a fire. After the fire has adequately started and heated up the barrel, start putting the leaves in it in small portions.

Putting in all the leaves at once will slow down the fire and it will be hard to burn them. That’s why make sure you’re throwing them in small portions.

Also, before throwing them in the fire, hold them over it for some time so that they get heated up first. This will help the leaves burn quicker when they are in the fire.

Some burn barrels also have a lid system which can be a great way not to let too much smoke come out at once. Other than that, ensure you have a safe barrel setup, as it is hazardous to deal with these methods if not positioned right.

2. Use A Blower

Another solution you can use to burn those moist leaves is using a blower. Leaf blowers are very effective when it comes to burning both dry and wet leaves. It creates pressure in the air by increasing its volume and velocity, which in return helps run the fire better.

Blowers essentially work by sucking out the air from the outside and then letting it out with greater force using their generator. To burn your leaves this way, pile the leaves on safe ground and light the fire. After that, turn on your blower and gently point the blower toward the lit fire.

You will soon see that the fire is increasing, and there is much better ignition. Some blowers also have filters that collect all the ashes and burnt particles. Getting one of these blowers can be beneficial as you don’t have to inhale the toxic stuff anymore. 

3. Let The Leaves Dry Up a Bit

If the two methods above don’t work, you need to leave the leaves out for some time to let them dry a bit. These leaves do not need to be fully dried up. But try to get some moisture out of them, so it gets easier to burn them.

If it’s too cold and moist outside, shift the leaves into a warmer place. It could be the garage. And then, let it sit out for a while. Afterward, take them out in an open space and burn them the usual way. I know this way has a lot of hassle, but it is for absolutely desperate situations when nothing else works.

Precautions To Take Before Setting Up the Fire

Dealing with a fire is never safe or pleasant. Especially when burning leaves, a lot of hydrocarbons is released, including harmful gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, so you need to be very careful. There are some other factors to take care of before burning wet leaves. Some of them are:

See The Municipality Rules

Since burning leaves has so many hazards, there are many states and localities where the local government has rules regarding the activity in residential areas. So, check with your municipality whether it is allowed to burn leaves in your yard.

Otherwise, you’ll have to move to a different location. Some places also require a permit to do these kinds of activities. Hence, if your locality requires it, make sure to get one. Otherwise, it will be illegal for you to do it in that space, and your neighbors might report you.

Wear Protective Clothing

As I’ve said, burning leaves releases harmful gases, and you will also be dealing with fire. So, you must dress appropriately to prevent any misfortunate event from happening.

Before lighting the fire, ensure you’re not wearing baggy clothes. It is best not to wear long jackets or skirts, as they can blow in the air and have a chance of catching fire.

Wear well-fitted clothes. In addition, tie your hair tightly and make sure none of it is let out. To save yourself from harmful gases, you can wear a mask.

Set Up The Fire In An Open Space

The most important precaution to prevent accidents is to light the fire in a large open space. In an enclosed or smaller yard, other materials can catch fire. The smoke also needs to travel far from you as fast as it can.

So, burning the leaves in a vast outdoor space is a must. Make sure you’re not burning them beside any trees, either.

Should You Burn Wet Leaves?

As a result of the recent Arctic blast, many neighborhoods in our area experienced dramatic leaf falls. Some people may be tempted by the old-fashioned and effective method of burning leaves when they have a lot of leaves blowing around their yards.

Leaf burning, however, is illegal in many areas and leads to air pollution, health risks, and fire hazards. Several toxic and/or irritating gases and particles are released when leaves are burned.

Burning leaves can produce smoke that contains tiny particles that can accumulate in the lungs over time. As well as increasing the risk of respiratory infection, these particles can reduce the air reaching the lungs.

Burning leaves can be extremely hazardous for people with asthma and other breathing disorders. Smoke is produced more frequently by moist leaves than by dry leaves when they burn slowly.

Moisture can also produce chemicals called hydrocarbons, which irritate eyes, noses, throats, and lungs. There is evidence that some of these hydrocarbons are carcinogenic.

You should not burn your leaves based on these facts, but what are the alternatives? If you are fortunate enough to have a municipal pickup of leaves for composting, you can simply rake them to the curb or bag them if necessary. What should we do with all these leaves?

If you want to compost those leaves yourself, you can do so. Grass clippings, garden waste, and produce scraps can speed the breakdown of dry leaves by mixing them with green plant materials. Manure from livestock or commercial fertilizers can also add nitrogen.

Alternatives to Burning Leaves

Remove fallen leaves manually to eliminate the harmful byproducts of combustion. Mulching leaves or composting leaves can turn yard waste into a yard helper. In addition to improving the health of your lawn and plants, mulching and composting can return important organic matter to the soil.

You can divide and conquer without burning leaves when you have a lot of them. Consider bagging some leaves, adding some to the compost pile, and mulching the remaining thin layer.

Mulched leaves can either be left in place or moved to garden beds to act as mulch. Leaves can be collected by your city through a leaf pickup program, added to an outdoor compost bin, or mulched for use on your lawn as fertilizer.

Chipping Leaves

Leaf shredding chutes are included on some wood chippers to chop up softer yard waste. When paired with a wood chipper, it works like a leaf mulcher and a 2-in-1 tool. Using a wood chipper chute to chip leaves is not recommended. Make sure the chipper has a designated shredding chute.

Compost Leaves

To see the benefits of composting leaves can take some time, especially when seeing the results. As part of your balanced composting, add leaves to your compost pile. The composting process is sped up by breaking down leaves into smaller pieces before adding them.

Leaves can be composted in a bin or corner of your yard where they get plenty of sunlight and drainage. Build the pile up to about 3 feet high and 4 feet wide by adding some nitrogen-rich matter, such as grass clippings or food waste.

Compost should be turned monthly and wetted periodically during periods of dry weather. For compost to decompose, it needs a little moisture. When it looks dark and crumbles, it’s ready for use.

Mulching Leaves

Using a lawn mower to run over a thin layer of fallen leaves can be enough to mulch. It is beneficial for the lawn and many insects to leave a thin layer of leaves in place after the leaves have broken down to the size of a dime.

Avoid leaving a thick layer of leaves, especially whole ones. It is impossible to get air or sunlight through matted leaves. Invest in a mulcher if you have a lot of leaves; they are available as handheld tools, standalone mulchers, and special attachments for lawnmowers.

Pick Up Leaves

You can handle the remaining leaf clean up fairly easily with a rake and bags if you mulch and compost some leaves. You should collect leaves as soon as possible after they fall when they are less crumbly and more nitrogen rich.

Choose a rake with an ergonomic handle and a large tine spread for more efficient sweeping. Gas-powered leaf blowers can make leaf gathering faster, but they aren’t as sustainable as a good old garden rake and some sweat.

Leaves can be disposed of on the curb if your city has a good system for picking them up and disposing of them. Some cities offer special leaf or yard waste pickup days monthly or in the fall. By checking those dates, you can also find out if your town recycles yard waste into mulch for residents.

Leaf collections are easiest if they are raked onto tarps and then lifted to “pour” them into bags. The local solid waste department may use reusable garden bags, biodegradable plastic bags, or sturdy paper bags designed for leaf collection.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best way to burn leaves?

Burning the leaves in a drum or barrel is the best way as it is the safest and less hazardous than the rest of the options. You can keep the fire restricted and controlled this way.

2. Can you get sick from burning leaves?

The smoke released from burning leaves can harm your lungs and respiratory system. It can also trigger asthma attacks in those who have it. Moreover, inhaling carbon monoxide hinders the natural flow of blood.

Final Words

Burning wet leaves always felt like a hassle as the fire would not start easily. But through this article, now you know how to burn wet leaves in the most effective ways.

So, get to work immediately and discard all those fallen leaves piled up in your yard for days. However, please make sure to check with the local authority guidelines first before attempting this process.

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