how to burn large amounts of paper
Kristina Davis

Learning how to burn large amounts of paper can help you do it safely.

The truth is that it is always difficult to safely dispose of a lot of paper at home, especially if burning is the chosen disposal method.

Yet, if you take the proper safety measures, burning paper will not hurt you or the planet.

But, how to burn paper at home, and what is the best way to burn paper safely?

To burn large amounts of paper safely, you need to do it far from your home and away from trees and vegetation, preferably in a fire pit. 

Can Burning Paper Be Good for the Environment?

burning a piece of paper

Burning paper is not suitable for the environment. That is a no-brainer really. But, are there any exceptions to these rules?

The truth is that there are situations in which burning paper or cardboard can be useful and even environmentally safe

Burning is Often Better than Throwing Paper Away

The landfills where our trash ultimately ends up cause the paper to degrade in an incomplete manner, which in turn creates methane.

This gas accelerates global warming and extreme climate shifts 25 times more effectively than carbon dioxide.

Therefore, burning paper is preferable to throwing it away, where it will wind up in a landfill and take up valuable space while decomposing.

By reducing the paper to ash, you eliminate methane gas emissions and accelerate the decomposition process as well. 

Paper Pulp as an Energy Source

paper as source of energy

Biomass fuel is the energy produced from natural materials and is generally regarded as a vast improvement over using fossil fuels. And paper can be a useful instrument in this endeavor.

So many people now use paper scraps instead of landfill gas to generate electricity, reducing the demand for fossil fuels that take millions of years to replenish.

Because of this, the environmental impact of using fossil fuels may be reduced. And we could recycle a source for energy usage, which would be a positive outcome for the planet. 

An Important Consideration

Commercial cardboard burning is marginally better for the environment than landfill disposal. This is because the high temperatures employed to incinerate this waste send the ash higher into the atmosphere.

Tip: You should get a small wood fire going before you start burning the paper; the paper will consume the flames quickly. 

How to Burn Large Amounts of Paper?

papers burning

Do not just go ahead and burn that stack of papers without first determining if that is really the best way to get rid of them.

When possible, safer and more environmentally friendly options like shredding, recycling, and composting should be used instead. 

Moreover, a document disposal service is often a good option if you need to dispose of sensitive records in a safe and secure manner. 

An Important Thing to Know

Before moving forward, it is a good idea to double-check with regional authorities to see if burning those papers is even legal.

There are strict laws in place in some states, and violators may face fines. Get the required permissions and adhere to all instructions.

Tip: A gust of wind could throw embers into the grass, starting a fire, so it is important to be vigilant and stay close by as the papers burn. 

Getting Ready to Burn Paper Safely

burning paper inside a barrel

Once you have decided you want to burn paper, You should proceed to keep the following things in mind: 

Find a Suitable Location

Look for a place that will not attract too much attention and is suitable for burning paper.

This should be a clear outside area, far from any buildings or flammable trees or vegetation. You should also ensure the ground is free of dry leaves, twigs, and anything else that could catch fire accidentally.

And of course, you should not get any closer than necessary to your house or the houses around you. 

Use a Fire Pit

It is best to burn the paperwork in a fire pit made of stone or metal.

Brick or metal pits are basically elevated structures, so they can maintain the fire up to two feet from the ground. Similarly, stone fire pits are also useful, as they are dug into a level area of dry ground.

Having a hot fire will not harm the nearby trees or grass if you burn paper in a fire pit. 

An additional perk of elevated fire pits is improved airflow to the fire, as the pit is lifted off the ground. The improved airflow helps the paper burn more efficiently.

Tip: You may find metal or brick fire pits at hardware stores if you do not already have one. 

Dig a Hole

digging a hole with a shovel

If you want to stop the fire from spreading, you should dig a pit in your yard.

Without a proper fire pit, a hole will serve the same purpose. Using a shovel, dig down a hole at least 6 to 8 inches deep and burn paper in it. 

Get a Burn Cage

If you are worried about safety, you should use a burn cage while discarding paper documents.

A burn cage is an option if you have the financial means to ensure that the paper fire you are starting will not spread.

Burn cages are steel, well-ventilated boxes that can be used to destroy many different items.

Its height is typically around 3 feet, which is usually enough to handle burning papers. 

Build a Bonfire

building bonfire

Because burn barrels and pit fires may require more time for complete combustion, a large bonfire is frequently the most efficient alternative here

Have at least 10 feet of clearance around your fire pit from any nearby trees or bushes to reduce the danger of a fire spreading.

Furthermore, for everyone’s safety, you should stick around until the fire is completely put out

An Important Consideration

Be sure to notify the fire department before lighting your bonfire. You should inform them of the day and time you want to light the fire. So, if things get out of hand, they can help put out the fire. 

Burn Papers in a BBQ Grill

A large fire in a pit, hole, or bonfire is unnecessary if you only have a few sheets of paper to burn. Instead, you can use that paper in your BBQ grill.

Spread charcoal across the bottom of the grill and light it with a small amount of lighter fluid. If you need to get rid of fewer than 20 sheets of paper, this method will work wonderfully well.

It is even better if your barbecue grill has a removable metal cooking surface.

You can just lift it off, place the papers on top of the charcoal, and watch the papers disappear into the dancing flames. 

An Important Safety Consideration
fire extinguisher beside burning paper

Keep a fire extinguisher handy and usually not very far from the flickering blaze. 

A fire extinguisher’s steadfast presence remains vital even when your burning quest involves a few sheets of paper.

It will help you to thwart any flames daring to wander beyond their designated area.

Tip: If you want to prevent the fire from spreading, you should burn the paper somewhere where nothing flammable is within 10 feet of the flames. 

Any Alternative to Burning Papers?

The adage “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is widely used and should be understood by everyone.

Recycling is preferable to burning paper and cardboard because of their mixed effects on the environment.

Cardboard and paper have high recycling rates, and it is better than any garbage made, so it is not all bad news even if trash of this kind is inevitable.

It is important to look into the recycling alternatives available in your area and see what they will accept as well as the best way to recycle. 

Is Recycling Truly an Option?

recycling paper

While recycling is helpful, it is not the best solution either. Energy is required to transform these waste products back into useful resources, and this is typically accomplished by burning fossil fuels on which we now rely.

Items containing harmful inks and chemicals pose a threat to the environment since they generate hazardous effluent throughout the recycling process.

For this reason, it is essential to investigate potential replacement strategies for paper and cardboard recycling. 


Discovering how to burn large amounts of paper can come in handy when you have large stacks to get rid of. Anyone can burn papers, but doing it safely is vital.

Moreover, you need to ensure that your local regulations do not stop you from burning paper on your premises.

Also, use fire pits whenever you can to handle everything safely.