We all love the warmth of a fire, however, finding firewood can often be challenging. You may be asking what type of wood should I use? How to find firewood near me? Where can I get free firewood? I’m here to help answer all these questions and more.
What Type Of Firewood Should You Use?
If you’re going to put out the energy and time to cut, split, and properly store firewood, you want to know you’re being as efficient as possible. No use wasting valuable time when there might be an easier way, right? The question is, how do you know which are the best trees for firewood.
Some People say it doesn’t matter what kind of wood you burn in a wood stove or furnace as long as it is seasoned properly. While properly seasoned firewood is a huge factor in how wood performs, there are other factors to consider. To see what wood is best for burning in your fireplace, read this article by the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
From what I have experienced and was taught by my grandfather, one of the things you also must consider is what type of wood will meet a particular need. He was a logger before he was married and logged, as well as farmed, most all his life.
You may be cooking on a wood stove, heating the house with a wood burner or using wood stove water heat exchange. You should know, not all wood is created equal for every task on the homestead.
Which are the best trees for firewood?
So what makes the best trees for firewood? The answer depends on where you live and what you have available in your region of the world. In some regions, you have an abundant supply of hardwood. In other areas, there’s a greater supply of softwoods.
If you only use firewood a few times a year you may want to go with dry softwood like fir. It takes less time to dry and has a wonderful fragrance which creates a lovely ambiance. You’ll find it easy to light and split. The downside of fir and other softwoods is they don’t burn as long as most hardwoods. This means you’ll have to feed the fire more frequently.
If you use wood as your main source of heat, you may want to try hardwoods. A stove loaded with oak at bedtime can still be going when you get up in the morning. You may pay more per cord for hardwoods. I’ve seen high-quality kiln-dried wood go for $300 a cord of Oak compared to $225-$250 for a cord of softwood. The Oak is denser, so you get a little more bang for your heating buck in the long run.
The best course of action, in my opinion, is to have some softwood split very small like four inches in diameter to use for kindling and hardwood to put on top to catch and continue to burn to produce the best BTU’s for your heating needs. This gives you an easy-to-start fire which will continue to produce long-lasting heat and a bed of coals for many hours.
Depending on the efficiency of your wood burner and how much air you put to the fire, you can have a bed of coals for a couple of days.
Firewood Near Me and Free Firewood
If you don’t have a supply of hardwoods on your own land, you will need to find a local source. We used to live by the beach in a tourist community. Cutting trees down was against the law so we were always trying to find firewood near me was always difficult. We only used wood heat in the winter (to help us save on electricity). As you can imagine, finding firewood was extremely important.
We would buy firewood from the one and only man that sold it in our area but he was very expensive. He would sell a truckload for $95.00 and it wasn’t even a full face cord of wood. When I asked if that price was for a full cord, he simply replied ‘it’s a truckload’. I then asked ‘is it a full-size truck or a mini truck?’
After my reluctance to pay almost $100 for a ‘truckload’ of firewood, I was determined to find firewood on the cheap or free. Here are some places I’ve had luck finding firewood near me.
- Construction sites. When land is cleared to build a home, the contractor or homeowner has to pay to have the lumber removed. This is the perfect opportunity to score some free firewood.
- Facebook Market/Craigslist/Classifieds. I’m always seeing ads for “FREE FIREWOOD’ in the places I just mentioned. Mostly, they are people who had a tree cut down and it costs extra to have the wood hauled off so they hope to save money by offering free firewood.
- Electric Company. The power company hires tree service contractors to trim the lines from time to time. You can call and ask who they have hired to trim the lines and talk to the contractor about getting free wood. We did this just a couple of months ago and the tree service company was thrilled to bring us their cuttings so they didn’t have to haul it to town.
- Tree Service or Landscape Service. Tree and Landscape service companies have to pay to haul off their debris. Generally, they appreciate those willing to take their scraps off their hands.
- Storm Cleanup. We just moved from the coast where we experienced more than our fair share of hurricanes. After the storm had passed, it was time for cleanup. This meant a plethora of FREE firewood. As an added bonus, we were doing our good deed by helping those who didn’t have chainsaws remove unwanted trees. It was a win-win.
- We can all agree that seasoned wood will always outperform green or snag wood as it’s called.
- It’s always important to remember the ideal moisture content of cured wood is below 20% in your split firewood. Some people use a moisture meter to know when the right moisture level is reached.
- Wood that has not been seasoned for at least a year is often hard to light and may keep going out. It will smolder and won’t put out much heat. It just generally burns poorly.
- The moisture in green wood causes most of the creosote to build up at an alarming rate. The faster the creosote builds up in your chimney the more often you must clean out the stove and chimney. Frequent cleaning can prevent a fire from starting in the pipe and burning your roof or home.
- Wet wood causes the whole system to be inefficient. Dry wood, on the other hand, produces a hot fire. Which in turn makes a hot flue, and a hot flue means much less creosote buildup.
If you purchase your firewood, you want to be sure the wood you’re buying has been seasoned for at least a year and stored in a way which prevents moisture from soaking in every time it rains. Seasoned wood looks dark, or gray when compared to the green wood of the same kind. When you split it, you will find it brittle with cracks running through each piece.
Softwoods, when properly stored, should be dry enough after one year to burn efficiently. However, we have found one year is not enough for hardwoods to produce the most efficient heat.
Once you get your firewood, you’ll need to store it. If you’ve used wood as your heating or cooking source for any length of time, then you know the key to heat production is in properly drying and storing firewood. We want to share what we’ve learned with you over the years about drying and firewood storage. Find out more in our article, The BEST Tips For Firewood Storage.
Don’t have an indoor fireplace? No problem. We’ve built a couple of easy to install DIY fire pits and share a quick step-by-step with you here. DIY Fire Pit- Quick, Easy, and Affordable.
After the embers have died and the ask is cool there’s one thing remaining, what to do with all the wood ash? Believe it or not, there are a TON of amazing uses for your wood ash. From melting ice to clearing algae from your pond. Find out how to use your wood ash in our article, 10+ Amazing Ways to Use Wood Ash.
Is there a particular type of tree in your region which makes the best trees for firewood?
Do you have experience harvesting firewood or finding free firewood in a place I didn’t mention? Please share your experience with us.
Lastly, I would ask neighbors that have or had fireplaces. We had a neighbor who had firewood that needed to be used since he wasn’t home long enough to man the fire. It’s always good to ask a neighbor.