Open Unwrapped Dec 14th: Flammability of Christmas Trees

University of Edinburgh festive bauble gift by Pingked (Flickr) CC BY-NC

Ever wondered how flammable your Christmas tree actually is?

This technical report from the Ottawa Department of Forestry in fire research from 1964 explains that ‘the flammability of conifers used as Christmas trees depends mainly on the foliar moisture content and also on the crown density. Trees allowed to dry can be ignited with matches when the moisture content falls to about 50 per cent, and will burn with great violence when moisture content falls below 20 per cent. Trees standing in water remain at over 100 per cent moisture content and cannot be ignited with a point source of flame; they will, however, ignite when flame is applied in a ring around the base’.  

Don’t try it at home.

Flammability of Christmas Trees, Van Wagner, C. E.

This technical report has been digitised and made Openly Accessible so anyone can access and read the report. The report was created by a division of the Canadian government and falls under Crown Copyright which allows any person to reproduce the text and images contained without seeking permission and without charge for non-commercial purposes.


Christmas tree with red christmas bauble and christmas candles. Attribution: indeedous/Wikimedia Commons

Christmas tree with red christmas bauble and christmas candles. CC BY. Attribution: indeedous/Wikimedia Commons


Melissa Highton

Director: Learning Teaching and Web

IS University of Edinburgh