Polystyrene foam Burning Danger
Is it bad to burn Polystyrene foam in a campfire?
Years ago, expanded polystyrene (polystyrene foam) was "expanded" with CFC gases,
probably because CFCs were cheap, easily available and easy to use. As
concerns with ozone depletion emerged, producers of polystyrene foam in
industrialized nations joined aerosol packagers in switching to safer gases
(principally nitrogen) for propellant and expansion of polystyrene foam.
Without trapped CFCs, combustion of polystyrene yields CO2 and water, some
odd volatile pieces, and carbon soot (due to the unsaturated bonds). But,
why burn polystyrene foam? It is one of the most under-recycled substances in the
world today. It requires less resources (particularly water) to recycle
than paper (too bad McDonalds went to paper boxes!) Producers of egg
cartons and meat trays beg and plead with municipalities to include EPS and
PS in their collections so they can "make it go around again." Granted, it
can be a hassle to carry recyclable materials out again when camping, but a
good stainless steel "Sierra cup" easily washes clean and is a lifetime
investment for camping. My opinion: burying the cup is better than tossing
it in the weeds, burning it "leaves less of a trace", but the best option is
to use only replaceable/refillable/reuseable equipment that you take with
you when you leave the campsite.
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Update: June 2012