For those of us in cold-weather climates, we know the cost of heating a home is expensive.
Many homes are equipped with electric heating units, but some are still using fireplaces or wood-burning stoves.
Whether you’re looking to heat your home long-term or to enjoy a simple fire outdoors, the following is a list of free firewood near you.
I’m going to preface this article with several disclaimers.
- You should never move firewood from within a 30-50 mile radius. In fact, there are in-state and state-to-state rules that govern the movement of firewood. Wood carries species that are natural to a specific area or region. Moving them, moves the species and can cause dangers to the environment and to the species.
- You should never take firewood without explicit permission. In most circumstances, there is an obvious person or entity who controls the area the firewood is in. That person or a representative from the entity should give you explicit permission before entering the area or removing wood.
- You should always leave an area better than you left it. If you’re using one of the resources below, make sure you clean up after yourself. There’s no law around doing this, but it’s best practices. It can also be the difference between your ability to go back to that spot or not.
- You should always practice safety measures. These measures include but are not limited to wearing gloves, a safety hat, and safety eyewear; only operating equipment safely, appropriately, and without impairment; and practicing safe burning habits like not burning treated woods, green woods (freshly chopped), poisonous woods, driftwoods, or softwoods.
- You should consider your wood to kindling to timber ratio carefully. Timber burns quickly and builds up ash. Kindling keeps the fire kindled, or going. But too much of either with little wood, means your fireplace or wood-burning stove can run out of room. Instead, build your fire with structural intent.
Where to Get Free Firewood?
The simplest place to find firewood is on your own property. You may have a tree that’s down (or needs to come down), or you may have pallets laying around that need chopped up or even old furniture. In either case, scavenge your area before scavenging others.
People you know may have wood available that you didn’t know about. If you post on social media or put an ad on a local bulletin board, you might find that someone has a lot of wood or a tree that you can cut down, chop up, and have.
One of the best places to get firewood is a local sawmill. In many instances, the sawmill will charge for the wood that is available, but sometimes, they have overflow that you can snag.
Local tree companies
Local tree removal companies will often allow you to take the wood that you cut. Sometimes, they may even have some in their trucks or that they collect. Be careful because they have some very dangerous equipment.
Local construction sites and companies
If you’re not afraid to ask (or to dumpster dive), you can usually find some decent wood available at construction sites and new builds. You might even be able to find some at the construction company. Remember, ask before you take.
Landfills and dumps often have wood mixed in with trash and materials. You will likely get really dirty, and you’ll probably have to do a lot of digging for quality wood, but it’s free.
Local government and roadways
Local government facilities sometimes have to pick up materials that have fallen into the road or that are obstructing areas.
Sometimes, they have those available for others to pick up. Roadways are also great places to find wood that is free for the taking. Check with your local trash collectors to start.
Local electric and cable companies
Like government facilities, electric and cable companies find themselves clearing areas of trees. Those materials have to go somewhere so go down to the local office to find out what they are willing to give up.
Do not call their 1-800 numbers because the customer service representative isn’t going to help you.
If you have a national forest nearby, check with the forester of that area to see if they have any wood that they need hauled away. Be sure you explain that you’ll be burning the wood and assure them that you are less than 50 miles away.
Online may seem like a weird place to find firewood, but it makes sense that free wood would be available there as well. With all online sites, be careful when meeting up face-to-face.
Free Firewood on Craigslist
Craigslist has a free section where you can find tons of free items, including firewood. You can isolate your area to remain close.
Sometimes, you might even find someone who is willing to give wood away if you chop it down, so check out the help wanted area as well.
Facebook Marketplace has become a strong parallel to Craigslist in terms of sales. You can select a specific radius and search for firewood.
I love Freecycle. It’s a site where you can find a bunch of free stuff. You can even create alerts to tell you when an item (like firewood) is available, or you can post a firewood wanted ad.
ChipDrop is a newer platform where people (gardeners) can get wood dropped off from arborists. They also have mulch available, but when you sign up, you can opt for logs only. There is some work involved, but the arborist brings the wood to you.
When you need firewood, you have to get creative and be prepared to do some work. In the end, free wood means heat. Where are some other places that you’ve accessed free wood?
Related: How to live without a lot of money
Martha Warner is a writer, editor, and educator. As a single mom for many years, Martha knows the value of money, how to work hard, and how to hustle. Her freelance career started as a side hustle (to support her love of travel) and quickly grew into the most lucrative career she’s ever had. Martha still teaches at the university as well as other online and in-person courses, including Writing to Make Money, College Scholarship Writing, and Write that Grant. Find out more about her on her website.