We, as Iowans, live off the land more than people in many other states. While Iowa has a couple of "big" cities, it's a very rural state. If you have some spare time, check out Iowa State's recent study on Iowa's population, including our rural communities. For Iowans living rurally, it's often easier and far cheaper to burn trash than it is to take it to a dumpster. Some locations are rural enough that the city of residence does not have a garbage pick-up service.

But what are the rules on burning trash in Iowa?

Burn burn burn your trash

I remember after moving to Iowa from St. Paul, Minnesota, I was surprised to see large black plumes while driving in more rural areas. At first, I thought someone's home or business was on fire. When I would approach the fire, it became clear it was on private land, and seemingly not an emergency.

Sometimes these are ditch fires to remove accumulated vegetation, but they can also be trash fires. So what are the legalities of burning your trash in Iowa? Well, let's start with is it even legal? Short answer, yes.

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Open burning, as such fires they're referred to by the Iowa DNR, are certainly legal. And since an outdoor fire is really hard to hide, that's a good thing for anyone burning on their property.

Photo by Marko Horvat on Unsplash
Photo by Marko Horvat on Unsplash

The DNR has a whole section on its website dedicated to fires, burning trash, etc. While the site indicates burning is legal, it's not quite that cut and dry. Iowa does require Iowans to be aware of what they're burning and,

State rules prohibit burning items that can be locally recycled.

There are also several items, tires, and most chemicals, that cannot be burned legally. This list, directly from the Iowa DNR, includes:

  • Rubber tires (Not even just one)
  • Materials containing asbestos
  • Asphalt
  • Railroad ties
  • Treated wood
  • Dead animals
  • Demolition debris ]
  • Petroleum products
  • Plastic
  • Metals
  • Carpet
  • Furniture

All of the above-listed items can release dangerous toxins into the air we breathe.

If all of that burning has you hungry, maybe it's time to grab a delicious pork tenderloin! Check out some of the best in the state.

The Iowa Tenderloin Trail 2.0

Iowa's best food tour is the Iowa Tenderloin Trail, which was put together by the Iowa Pork Producers Association! Here are all 13 restaurants on the list:

Gallery Credit: Courtlin

All of Iowa's Best Burger Winners Since 2010

Every year, the Iowa Beef Industry Council puts on a contest to figure out which restaurant has the most delicious burger in the state. Here are all all the honorees that are still in business as of January 2024:

Gallery Credit: Courtlin

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