As you know by now, my husband and I are nuts about our wood stove. We love the look, feel, and savings it brings our home. For more on that check out the first two posts in our 3-part series:
- Wood-burning stoves: A frugal and efficient way to heat your home
- The cost and savings of installing a high-efficiency wood stove
One small detail with heating your house with a wood stove is that you need… wood. And not just any wood. It should be seasoned, which means it should be cut, split, stacked, and covered until the water content is less than 20%. For softer woods, like pine, this typically takes 6 months to 1 year. For hard woods, like oak, it’ll take 1-2 years.
The wait is worth it. Dry wood = a clean burn. Burning unseasoned (green) wood results in less heat and more creosote build-up in your chimney, which increases the odds of a chimney fire. We store our wood in a 6×10′ open shed Ed build from wood and supplies he’d saved from other projects (of course!). Having a full shed with neatly stacked logs makes Ed as happy as a full pantry with neatly organized food makes me. Apparently, we’re just very large squirrels.
Like anything, to keep your savings high you want to keep your costs low. For example, we will save roughly $600 every heating season (keeping our house around 70-degrees) by using our wood stove. Our savings are high because our expenses (wood) are low. As in, we have never spent any money on it. This is mainly due to the fact that my husband attracts free wood like nobody’s business. And cutting and splitting wood is a combo hobby/workout to Ed. He’d rather have an ax than a fishing pole or treadmill. So, while it’s more work it doesn’t necessarily feel like work to him.
Here are our best tips on finding inexpensive (or free!) firewood:
Offer to cut down trees and remove wood for others. I’m talking more small favors than small business. If you are skilled with a chainsaw, you could offer your services in return for the wood. My husband gets calls like this all the time, “Hey, Ed, I have this tree…” Not major tree removal projects, just some overgrown Christmas trees here and some rotten apple trees there. My husband is happy to exchange labor for goods. (Side note: Removing trees of a certain height may require a permit from your city or county. Make sure you look into that before removing trees on your or another person’s property.)
Spread the word that you need wood. For example, my husband works with a guy who advertises tree clean-up services after big wind storms. From this, he gets small trees and big limbs. Again, we’re not talking a big job that is better handled by the pros. This is simple cut down and clean up work that nets some cheap fuel for your wood stove.
Scavenge free wood. Watch Craigslist ads, ask about construction debris, look for free signs on the curb. You know those piles of free pallets? Cut them down to make great kindling or starter wood. That is, if you can pry it away from those hard-core Pinterest users looking to make another piece of wall art.
Cut firewood in designated state & national forests. In many counties, you can cut firewood in forests for a fee of $20 for 2 cords. This is a great deal, especially if you enjoy the great outdoors. Contact the Department of Forestry for more information.
What ideas for finding cheap or free firewood would you add to the list?
Ed loves his pair of Hearth Gloves, like the ones pictured above Amazon. They help protect your forearms when loading wood into a hot stove. I am usually too impulsive and impatient to pull on gloves, and I often have the burns to prove it. I think Ed might be on to something….
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Jordan Miner says
I’ve been looking for a good firewood, and some tips would be good. I’m glad you talked about being able to get the word out that you need wood. I’m going to have to look for a good firewood provider, and see what I can find!
wanted free firewood
thick lumber scraps
looking for wood near lebanon,pa area
barbara hamilton says
oops the young people that need help are jesse and jessica, my daughter and son in law, and my two grand babies. they are around 25, and jesse brock his back on the job so he’s limitrd at what he can do.
barbara hamilton says
we are desperately looking for free to cheep fire wood. there electric bills are outrageious. they need help, is there anyone who would, or could show them how to do this for themselves, or help them out they have two babies to keep warm, one will be two in july, the other will be one in oct.
I love burning wood and that include the prepping. Splitting and stacking – i could do it all day.
When I bought our house, i was busy with repairs so i bought a years worth of seasoned wood and a second year of unseasoned to get a year ahead. Since then, I’ve had a lot if luck finding free and cheap wood. When my neighbor who works at a mill saw my pile for next year stacked neatly outside the barn seasoning, he started bringing me the end pieces that the mill scrapped and refused to take money because he got it for free. It’s already blocked so i just have to split it.
Also, I am constantly checking Craigslist. People are tossing wood for free and cheap all the time. I just got 11 face of wood split and seasoned for 2 years for $200. The guy was building a house and split/attached the wood from the trees he cut down. He procrastinated in buying a stove and ended up not getting one so he just wanted the wood gone!
My tip is to check often and be ready to jump when you see something. Free and cheap wood moves fast!
wanted free hard wood firewood
near lebanon,pa 17042 area
logs split wood
I can get plenty of rounds ready to split for free just by watching the Craigslist free ads. I age them for a year before burning them and I generally only get the hardwood rounds but both hardwood and pine/redwood is regularly available for free on Craigslist.
Km Koesler says
Call your local electrical utility (ours is a rural co-op) and ask where the line clearing crews are clearing branches from electric lines. We score lots cordwood, and offer to let them dump their loads of wood chips on our place when they’re in the area. Free mulch! We solely burn wood to heat our home in winter (6 to 8 cords a winter) and haven’t had to cut down a tree for fuel in over 5 years.
This one might not work for everyone, but my small rural community has a “Community Burn Pile”. A place where residents can drop off yard waste only, no garbage, for free. It almost always has limbs that have been pruned from trees and even entire trees that have been cut down.
I’m looking for free firewood in the Ohio Valley Region, Follansbee WV to be exact. If anyone wants to get rid of some, please let me know. My parents are both 80 yrs old and my Mom has trouble standing the cold. Please let me know. Thank you.
Sue Matis says
We have been heating our house in upstate NY with wood for 35 years. We probably burn 6 full cords every winter, supplemented by an oil furnace when it is really cold out. We seldom burn more than 100 gallons of oil per winter…..sometimes less. We buy loads of hardwood logs, which my husband cuts and splits. One load of logs yields 5-6 full cords of wood. And we pay around $400.00 per load. And my husband is always one year ahead. He is now working on next year’s supply. We take a couple of the railings off of our deck in the Fall; he then backs the wagon right up to the deck and stacks enough wood there for the whole winter. It is then only a few steps to the sliding glass door to bring if in the house. He brings wood in once a week. There is nothing better than the nice warmth from a wood fire in the dead of winter! And we always have heat whenever there is a power failure, which happens more often than we’d like! It is a labor intensive job, cutting, splitting and stacking wood, so you have to be a hearty soul to be able to do it!
buy loads of hardwood logs, Where or how did you fined the wood to purchase in large amount?? I live in Indiana. I just need some ideals where to look.
wanted free firewood near lebanon,pa area
We live east of Portland on almost an acre. About 8 years ago we bought a soapstone stove and started wood hunting as I like to call it. Nothing beats the feel of wood stove heat. I used to team up with a couple other guys and we would go wood hunting up in the forests with permits. A couple of summers ago I decided to go different route– I bought a logging truck load of logs and had them delivered to my property. I cut the logs into rounds over one summer and the family split the rounds and stacked the wood over the two summers. Estimate of yield is about 11 cord at $100 per cord. Also equals several summers with time to do other things.
While burning firewood is a great way to save money, there are some things one should know before starting:
There are BTU ratings on all wood. Hardwoods produce higher BTU ratings. Something like Cottonwood generally isn’t even worth your time. Even if it’s free!
Hardwood is great for keeping a fire overnight. It does, however, cause more creosote buildup in your chimney.
Softer wood, such as douglas fir, is great for burning during the day. It burns hotter and will “help” clear out any creosote buildup.
Something like cedar is great for an ambiance fire in your fire pit or fireplace. Burns hot and fast and will be out by the time you go to bed.
Seasoned wood is defined (by our experience) as cut down for at least a year as well as split and let sit in the summer sun/heat for at least one summer. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. ALWAYS ask if you are buying the firewood!
Speaking of buying firewood…as tempting as it is to go with the cheapest firewood you can find, that generally means you are getting an inferior product. Talk to the person selling the firewood. Ask how long it’s been down. Is it seasoned? Inspect the firewood yourself. Green moss on the wood means it’s unseasoned wood! It should look and feel dry. Ask what the moisture % is. Ask if they deliver a true cord and if they guarantee it. Anyone taking the time to cut, split and season the firewood is going to need a payback for their time. Buying a cord of douglas fir for much under $200 means it’s likely not seasoned and you may end up buying more wood to burn that winter while the first cord you bought seasons in your backyard. 🙁
If you burn firewood in your home, you will want to invest in a CO2 detector. Costco has them for around $25 and they plug into your wall. Super easy!
Clean your chimney regularly. This is probably the most important thing to remember. Regularly is defined by your burning style & stove pipe material. For us, our chimney requires a sweep every other month during the winter. My in-laws do it once a year and there is barely anything to sweep even with that.
Sit back and soak up the delicious heat. There is nothing like coming into a wood heated home after being in the cold. Feels soooo wonderful!
Country Mom says
Also a great fire starter, fill a tp tube with dryer lint. Works like a charm. As a matter of fact, we keep a small baggie of dryer lint for camping and/or hiking. Super lightweight and takes us very little room. Part of our emergency kit. (And everyone had dryer lint! 🙂 )
following an ice storm, the kind that coats electric wires and every tree branch with an inch circle of ice bringing each other down, you can get a year’s supply of wood by driving around and picking up the thicker branches.
In Pierce County you can get permits to cut trees on Ft Lewis/jblm…its where most of the fire wood sold here and seatle comes from.
oh, save those those ashes from the clean up, mix with bone meal for a very good and balanced garden fertilizer…add blood meal for a high nitrogen mix for the lawn grass.
That gas bill is awesome. I can’t wait to get our stove going.
Ashley Kline says
How many cords can you fit in a 6×10 shed? My husband and I need to build one and I’m trying to get a feel of what size we would need.
Emily from Frugal Living NW says
Our shed is 7′ tall and holds about 3 cords. We wish we had built it a bit bigger, as it’s not fully enclosed so rain does blow in the front.
A true cord measures 4’x4’x8′ or 128 cubic feet. We sell firewood so we are very aware of these measurements. 🙂
Pallet hazard… Get to know the pallet codes to know what chemicals and treatments have been used on the pallets that you get for free before you bring them into your home to burn. there are certain pallets I will not used for my garden because of the chemicals used to treat the wood.
I have a question along these lines-how do you know this? Also when using lumber-are any of those treated? I had a fire the three recent snow days we had & I was leery about using some scrap 2×4’s we have. Is there anything to be concerned about?
Emily from Frugal Living NW says
Here is some great info on how to tell whether pallets have been treated with chemicals or not: http://www.1001pallets.com/pallet-safety/
And Charolyn, you should be just fine! 2×4’s aren’t treated (unless they’re pressure-treated, of course). We burn scrap wood from the shop at my husband’s work all the time.
Denise L says
I have free wood if you want it! Tree was cut down this past summer, cherry and it had been dead for about a year, so should be seasoned. It’s still in big logs so would need to be cut down smaller before removing from yard. I am in North Portland, let me know if you want it!!!
We are in Salem and would love your free wood! Please e-mail me at email@example.com Thanks!!
Emily from Frugal Living NW says
We don’t “need” any wood right now, but my husband can’t resist the offer, of course. He said cherry wood is a great hardwood. Hope it works out for you, Beth. Ed can be second in line. 🙂
Fire starter sample. Perfect to add to your collection
Emily from Frugal Living NW says
Thanks, Stacy! I just requested a free sample!
Loving that electric bill!!!! nice work!