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Buying firewood can feel rather literally like burning money, so if you’re keen to find a cheaper alternative, there are some great ways to get hold of free firewood. Provided you make sure you’re burning only suitable wood, there are many sources of free wood for your campfire or an indoor fireplace. Some woods are readily available for the taking, while others require a bit of common sense and politeness. Ask nicely, and you’ll find many places willing to give you free scrap wood.
The 8 Best Places Where You Can Find Free Firewood Near You Are Below.
Table of Contents
- Key Takeaways
- How To Get Free Firewood Near You
- Related Questions
- Look for opportunities in your neighborhood where people are chopping down trees.
- Connect with small businesses and provide a wood clearing service for them.
- Keep an eye on daily classified freebies and construction sites to find excess wood that can be collected for free.
- Always ensure you have permission and don’t take wood without asking.
- Don’t burn scrap wood that has been treated with paint or other chemicals.
How To Get Free Firewood Near You
With some planning and keeping your eyes open, you can build up a good supply of firewood for your winter fires or summer camps. Take a note of when your local city service trims down trees, and stockpile ahead for the following year. Always ask and ensure you are allowed to take wood and never steal. In some cases, you can even make money collecting your firewood!
1. Local Community Classifieds
If you have a local paper or a local online classified, you can often find people getting rid of unwanted lumber and firewood in the freebies section. Sometimes people offer excess firewood; other times, people want to have a felled tree removed. Some good sites to check are Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Gumtree, but you can also find smaller local classified sites, depending on your area.
You could quickly build up a good stockpile of firewood by checking online listings daily. If you’re uncertain about safety, taking a partner or friend with you is a good idea. It will also make loading the lumber faster and easier.
2. Construction Sites and Landfills
Construction sites are a good source of free wood as the trees need to be cleared from the site before the building can commence. If you see clearing beginning for a building site, ask the foreman or site manager if you can have permission to remove some of the wood.
If the construction is already in progress, head to your local landfill to see if the construction company has already dumped their cleared wood. Construction and Demolition Landfills are used to store the debris from construction – including wood.
3. Collecting from the Woods
If you live near a local wood, you might have no problem getting smaller branches and kindling simply by collecting a small amount of fallen wood for personal use. However, you are not allowed to cut down any trees, which is considered poaching.
If you are lucky enough to live near a National Forest that issues firewood harvesting licenses, this is one route to getting a decent amount of firewood. These permits are issued at a fee that can be as low as $5 per cord. This government list indicates which areas offer firewood harvesting permits.
4. Storm Cleanup
After a heavy storm, streets and sidewalks may be littered with debris like fallen branches and even whole fallen trees or substantial branches. It’s simple enough to clear smaller items yourself, but make sure the storm has passed and there is no danger from further wind or snow.
Storm cleanup crews will take little time to move in and clear streets for safety and to prevent traffic delays, so you’ll want to get started as soon as it is safe to do so.
The scrap wood from Sawmill lumber processing is known as slabs – which come from the squaring-off process — and blocks and cut-off ends. Depending on what woods they are processing, you could acquire pieces of softwoods or hardwoods, which will need different seasoning times, and which will burn faster or slower.
Phone local sawmills to see if they have any slabs or offcuts you can collect, but be aware that these days most mills chip their excess and sell them to utility and landscaping companies. However, if not free, you might be able to pick up a good amount of firewood for $75-$100 a cord.
ChipDrop is a site dedicated to helping gardeners get free wood chip deliveries for mulch, but you can also find local drop sites for logs. Arborists and tree trimming companies use it to get rid of their logs and woodchips, putting them in touch with local gardeners.
You can sign up to ChipDrop for free, save money on firewood, and help keep the community green.
7. City Service Brush Cleanup
Find out from your local city council when they do their brush cleanup, and ask for permission to remove cut logs and branches.
8. Providing a Wood Trimming Service
If you have the time and tools, offer your services to your neighbors and provide wood-trimming. This service will net you plenty of free wood and make some money.
Some things to think about when getting free firewood are whether it is suitable wood for burning, as not all trees make good firewood, the length of time it will take for your wood to season and dry, and how much you will save by gathering free or cheap firewood.
What Trees make Good Firewood?
Hardwoods usually take longer to burn and will give you hotter fire, whereas softwoods burn faster, and some, like spruce and pine, leave a creosote residue.
The best trees for firewood come from apple trees, beech, birch, Hickory trees, Ironwood, maple, oak, and ash, while the least heat-producing woods are alder, aspen, cedar, pine, redwood, hemlock, cottonwood, and spruce.
Some woods should be avoided because they can produce hazardous smoke and fumes. If the wood you’ve gathered is pressure treated, has varnish or paint, or is an engineered wood, don’t use them on the fire. It’s also best to avoid driftwood.
How Long To Season Firewood?
Wood must first be stored and left to dry before being used as firewood, known as seasoning the wood. Depending on the type of wood, seasoning times can vary, but generally, at least six months is needed to dry out the logs so they will burn cleanly. However, some hardwoods can take up to two years to dry correctly.
You can use a moisture meter to test the water content of your wood, and by taking a sample from several pieces of lumber, you can get a more accurate reading. Don’t use wood with more than 25% moisture, and ideally, only burn wood that has a reading of below 20%
How Much Will a Cord of Wood Cost?
A cord is a unit used to measure a pile of stacked, dried wood – about 8-foot by four-foot by four-foot. Prices will vary depending on wood type, availability, and area, but on average, expect to pay $300 for a cord of wood, with prices as low as $120 or as high as $900.