Home » 7 Fail-Proof Ways To Find Cheap or Free Firewood

7 Fail-Proof Ways To Find Cheap or Free Firewood

Burning wood is more than a cozy way to heat your home.  It is also a great way to save money.  After all, when is the last time you saw natural gas, heating oil or electricity go down in price? 

For those of us who love wood heat, the hunt for cheap firewood is a never ending quest.  In fact, scavenging for a big haul of free wood is something of a hobby for many.  

If you’re fed up with paying a big stack of money for a not so big stack of firewood, then you just may want to join in the hunt.  Finding cheap or free firewood is not as hard as you may think.  With a little networking and some poking around, you’ll be surprised just how much cheap firewood is actually available.

So where can you reliably find cheap firewood?  Here are 7 of the best ways to get a hold of cheap or free firewood that won’t let you down.

1.  Check out construction sites

It seems like everywhere you look there is new construction.  Small towns are expanding and urban sprawl is still going strong.  While hundreds of new homes might not be what you hoped for in your neck of the woods, there is a silver lining.  Wood scraps!  And lots of it.

Most home building projects generate a fair bit of wood scraps that need to be hauled away.  And that costs money.  So, the next time you pass by a new home development, stop and see if you could be of service.  Ask a foreman on the job if there is any wood you can take off their hands.  It’s free firewood for you and more money in the homebuilder’s pocket.  

Just remember to avoid treated lumber or wood products with adhesives like OSB or CDX plywood sheets.  These materials are not safe to burn.  Instead, search for clean, dry lumber like 2x4s or 2x6s scraps.  Don’t believe me? Check out my post about the hidden dangers of burning treated lumber.

Bonus tip:  Try not to bother a construction crew hard at work.  Time is money for these guys and interruptions are not always appreciated.  Try timing your search for free wood during their lunch breaks.  You’re more likely to catch them in a generous mood.

2.  Make friends with local landscapers

If there is one thing landscapers do a lot of, it’s trimming trees.  As is the case with construction debris, all those tree limbs and chunks of wood need to get hauled away and dumped.  Once again, this is where you come in.  Put in a little work and you may be able to make friends with your local landscape crew by helping them get rid of all that wonderful firewood.  

More than likely, it’s going to cost them some money to dump all those branches at a recycle center.  Not to mention, it takes time and effort to load piles of branches into a truck or trailer.  Offer to come out to the job site and load your truck up with the larger branches yourself.  Who will say no to free labor?  Then, head home and cut it to size at your leisure.

After building a relationship with a productive crew of landscapers, they may think to call you up every time they chunk up a tree.  It could potentially be an endless supply of free firewood.  

3.  Call up a sawmill or lumber yard

Not everyone has a sawmill or lumber yard close to home but for those that do, they are a potential gold mine of excellent firewood.  Sawmills process huge amounts of timber to make lumber.  However, not every part of a tree gets turned into a usable product and all the leftovers need to be discarded.  

Typically, mills pay to have all that wood taken away so they are often willing to let people like you and me take a load or two of their hands if we ask nice.  In most cases, mill operators let you take all you want but don’t be surprised if they ask for a few bucks in return.  Sawmills are businesses after all.  Even so, it’s still among the cheapest source of firewood you’ll find.

Sure, you may not have a sawmill handy in your neck of the woods but lumber yards are everywhere.  Unlike Home Depot or Lowes, local lumber yards handle vast amounts of wood.  Therefore, you can bet that they have wood scraps laying around.  My local lumber yard even has a big bin filled with free wood all the time.  All it takes is a quick phone call to your local lumber yard to find out if they have some too.

4.  Ask your neighbors

Chances are your neighbors could be a great source of firewood.  Not everyone burns firewood for heat but most people have trees in their yards or know someone who does.  Start networking with your neighbors to let them know you are on the hunt for firewood.  

Now, the next time a fallen tree needs to be removed, you’ll be the one they call.  It’s also a good idea to keep an eye out for downed trees after a storm passes through your town.  Many people don’t like to hassle with cutting up fallen trees and will gladly take your offer to cut it up.  

5.  Find more wood online

When local sources run dry, it’s time to expand your search for firewood.  Among the most productive places to find loads of cheap or free firewood is on the internet.  Classifieds such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp have countless listings of people hoping to get rid of unsightly piles of wood, pallets or tree debris.  

Not all ads are created equal though.  Cheap firewood might be cheap for a reason.  Watch out for rotten or low quality wood.  For that reason, I prefer ads with pictures so I don’t waste a trip out to the location only to find that it’s not what I expected.   

6.  Obtain public land firewood permits

Public lands like National Forests, BLM land and State Forest land have an abundance of quality firewood.  You can obtain wood cutting permits from each government agency for as little as $20.  Most permits allow for up to 3 or 4 cords of wood to be cut with a nominal fee for additional cords.

Since we don’t all have access to plentiful sources of firewood, public land firewood permits are the ideal way to stockpile enough wood to last the entire year.  Bear in mind that obtaining a permit does not entitle you to cut anything you want. 

Each permit for the various lands has specific regulations and rules you must follow.  Typically, only deadfalls and downed timber is legal to cut with a valid firewood permit.  That means you’ll need to cover some distance on forest roads to get your share of wood.  

7.  Place a wanted ad for firewood

Sometimes it’s better to let the firewood find you instead of hunting it down yourself. Try placing a wanted ad online.  Craigslist is a good marketplace with a high volume of local traffic.  There is always someone looking to off-load some unneeded wood that will bolster up your firewood stash for the winter.  

Improve the odds that you’ll get quality wood by specifying exactly what type of wood you are looking for.  Otherwise, you may end up with a lot of calls begging you to haul away a rotten pile of fence boards or decaying tree limbs.  

Final Thoughts

There is nothing wrong with buying pre-split, seasoned wood from a reputable firewood dealer.  But you will pay top dollar for the convenience.  It’s well worth the time and effort to find cheaper sources of firewood and it’s usually easier than you think.  

As a final note of caution, make sure you always ask for permission from landowners before assuming that any wood laying around is free for the taking.