The legality of open burning depends on where and what you burn.
- Inside City/Town Limits: Some towns have banned outdoor burning altogether, and others have enacted local ordinances that limit outdoor burning. If you live within city limits, always check with your local government before you burn anything outdoors.
- Outside City/Town Limits: The S.C. Forestry Commission regulates certain types of outdoor burning. If you live outside city limits, you must notify the S.C. Forestry Commission before you burn anything outdoors.
- Commercial and Residential Builders: It is against the law to burn any waste from commercial construction sites. As for single-family residential builders, it is illegal to burn any materials outdoors April 1 - October 30 (ozone season). The rest of the year (November 1 - March 30) laws governing open burning by single family residential construction sites include a number of restrictions. If you're building a single-family residence, consult South Carolina's Open Burning Regulation (61-62.2, Prohibition of Open Burning).
What can I burn or NOT burn outdoors in South Carolina?
(If allowed by local ordinance)
Paper and cardboard
Insulation and duct work
NOTE: Using burn barrels to burn garbage also is illegal.
Report Illegal Open Burning
Please report illegal open burning of items such as tires, plastic, copper wire, and asbestos covered materials to the appropriate Environmental Affairs Regional Office as soon as possible. (Obviously, if a fire of any nature gets out of control, call 911 first.)
You can also report illegal open burning of land clearing or yard debris, but most of the time these situations do not constitute an immediate threat, so you can report the incident to DHEC the next business day.
Why is Open Burning a Problem?
Open burning — burning anything outdoors — can harm your health and that of your neighbors.
DHEC discourages open burning in all circumstances. In some situations, it's illegal and you can be fined a lot of money, even if it's your first violation.
- Releases unfiltered and untreated toxic pollutants and particles directly into the air at ground level, where they can be easily inhaled;
- Produces ash that can contain toxic metals such as mercury, lead, chromium and arsenic. People sometimes scatter the ash or bury it in their backyard garden. There, vegetables absorb and accumulate the toxic metals and children playing in the yard can ingest the contaminated soil; and
- Frequently causes brush, residential and forest fires particularly during drought.
Instead of burning household garbage outside, dispose of it properly. Whenever possible, recycle and compost waste.
For More Information
- For more information, read DHEC's regulation on Open Burning or contact our Bureau of Air Quality at (803) 898-4118. Also see our Learn Before You Burn (pdf) brochure.
- Find Exemption Conditions for Firefighter Training Exercises.
- Request an Enhanced Air Burner exemption.