Where to Buy Firewood

In some areas it can be hard to figure out where to buy firewood. But it helps to know where to look. Firewood in not commonly mass produced the way many products we use are. Although there are established firewood businesses in many areas, most firewood is produced and sold locally by some guy with a pickup truck and a chainsaw.

These guys don’t always have the advertising budgets that the corporate world that brings us most of our products have. So they can be a little harder to find. But if you are in an area where people commonly burn wood, you can usually find them if you know where to look.

Where to Find Firewood For Sale

If you are looking for just a few sticks, you can usually find firewood for sale at local grocery stores or department stores in bundles or boxes. You will usually pay a premium for this wood, but if that’s all you need, it’s a convenient way to get it.

If you need more wood you will probably want to know where to buy firewood from a dealer or wood cutter. Many of them just use word of mouth. If you know people who burn wood, ask them where they get their wood and if they recommend anyone.

Many firewood dealers do advertise. Since small one or two person firewood operations don’t usually have big advertising budgets, look in places where it costs little or nothing to advertise.

Where Dealers Advertise Firewood for Sale

Newspaper classified ads can be a good place to find firewood for sale. I have advertised my firewood in my local newspaper for many years and still do. I know others in my area do as well. It is not uncommon to find even more firewood ads in the free classified papers you find in racks around town, such as near the entry or exits of grocery stores.

Now that the internet is so common, you can usually find firewood for sale on the internet. Simply doing an internet search for firewood for sale in your area may bring results. But it’s usually only the more well established firewood businesses who will have a website. That may be what you are looking for, but many areas may not have these businesses.

Craigslist is the most common place I have found wood cutters advertising online. It may even be the most common place to advertise firewood these days. Many legitimate firewood cutters advertise on Craigslist, but buyer beware. I have had a lot of customers tell me stories of dealers they found on Craigslist that don’t bring what they promise or don’t even show up at all. This is not to discourage you from shopping there, you can find great firewood suppliers there, just use caution.

Another place you can sometimes find firewood for sale is signs on the side of the road in rural areas. Sometimes when wood cutters operate their business from home, they will put a firewood for sale sign in their yard where it can be seen from the road. In my area, when driving in rural residential areas it is very common to see these signs.

You may even find these signs if you travel through an industrial area where a lot of wood products are processed. Places to look for these would be around lumber or pulp mills or where you would find logging businesses.

Urban tree services often sell firewood. They can usually be found in the yellow pages. If they don’t sell it they may be able to tell you who does sell wood in the area.

If you can’t find anyone advertising, you may want to put an ad on Craigslist and advertise for firewood wanted. You might be surprised who might respond.

Where to Store Firewood – Choosing a Firewood Storage Location

Firewood can be stored in many places, and for the consumer, sometimes the best place is wherever it is the most convenient. As a commercial firewood producer I store it where I can get easy access to it, and where it will get the most sun to help it dry.

If you get your wood green, storing it in a sunny location is one of the best ways to get it to dry. But if it is already dry, or if you live in a climate where you have a whole hot dry summer for it to dry, that won’t matter so much. A wood shed or a cover like a patio, lean to, barn can be great places to store firewood. Even a garage can be good if you can spare the garage space and don’t mind the mess. But many of us have to store our firewood outdoors.

The first thing to do is check with your local zoning laws or fire department. In some areas there are laws or recommendations when storing firewood, requiring or recommending that firewood be stored a certain distance from structures for fire safety.

Keep in mind that moving firewood is a lot of work and you will probably want to minimise the distance and number of times that you will have to move it. Choosing a place that will be close to where the delivery truck can get access will save a lot of work in getting the wood to your storage area. If possible store your wood in an area that a truck can back up to.

Also consider bringing the wood into your house when it is time to burn it. The closer it is the less distance you will have to haul it. Also think about how bringing it in from your storage area will be in bad weather. Consider what it will be like if you have to walk through the rain and snow and cold weather. Or even muddy ground. Or maybe you will be wearing a path through your lawn or landscaping.

Make sure the wood is not going to be in the way to where you will have to move it someday before you burn it. Think about whether it may block access for future projects or repairs to your home. For example, having a new appliance delivered. Or blocking access if you have to repair or have your septic system pumped. Also be mindful of delivery vehicles driving over buried plumbing or utilities like leach fields and septic tanks.

Where you store your firewood is usually not a critical decision. But doing a little thinking ahead about where you store it can save you work and grief in the future.

Learn more about firewood storage. Get many tips and techniques for storing and drying firewood.

How to Store Firewood Outdoors

Knowing a few tips on how to store firewood outdoors can save you from some potential problems. Storing firewood in a shed or other covered structure is great, but many of us don’t have access to these areas. Or maybe we do, but we have better uses for them than storing firewood. This is not a problem since firewood can be stored outside just fine.

Storing Firewood Outdoors

Many things will degrade when left out in the weather, and wood is one of them. When exposed to moisture, untreated wood will rot. Repeated wet and dry and exposure to sun can cause wood to discolor, crack and degrade. But with firewood, you will probably not be storing it for more than a year or two. If stored right, this is not enough time for it to degrade enough to be a problem for its intended use. But if you follow these few simple tips, you can minimise the degradation, and more important, have drier wood to burn.

Store Your Firewood Off the Ground

One of the things that will cause wood to degrade faster than anything, is if it has direct contact with soil. Wood in contact with soil creates a natural habitat for the bacteria, fungus and other organisms that consume wood. But if you are only going to store the wood for a few months to a year, it’s probably not going to decay much. But it will become a huge mess. The dirt will stick to the wood in huge clumps bonded by fungi and microbial body slime. It will also help keep the wood wet. So anything you can do to get the wood off the ground will help keep your wood clean and dry.

Putting a tarp on the ground will help, or stacking the wood on stickers, concrete or asphalt or even clean gravel. Just about anything is better than soil. Things like old carpet can work well too.

Drying Firewood and Keeping it Dry

Many people think that covering firewood is the most important part of having dry firewood. But in many cases, covering wood is not always a good idea and can inhibit drying. The first thing I see a lot of people do as soon as they get firewood, is to throw a tarp on it. That may be a good idea if the wood is dry and it’s going to rain. But if the wood is wet or green, air circulation will be more important than covering it. Learn more about drying firewood.

If your firewood is dry, you will then want to cover it to keep it dry when it rains. The most common way to cover firewood is with a tarp or plastic sheet. This can work well but I see people making a very common mistake when doing this. Knowing not to make this mistake will put you ahead of most people when it comes to storing firewood outdoors.

What they do is cover the whole pile of wood in a way that eliminates almost all air circulation. They seal up the whole pile all the way to the ground. This prevents any moisture that gets in from getting out. When they uncover the wood, instead of finding the pile of nice dry wood they covered, they find a wet moldy mess.

The better way to cover firewood is to just cover the top of the pile and leave the sides open. This allows moisture to escape while keeping the majority of the wood dry. Even if the wood around the edges get wet, it will be worth it to have the wood inside stay dry.

When storing firewood outdoors, we are not dealing with rocket science. The main thing is to keep the wood off of the soil, and once it’s dry, cover it but make sure it gets air circulation. Read more tips on firewood storage, like where to store wood, how to stack it and how to dry it.

The Difference Between Hardwood and Softwood Firewood

Firewood is usually classified in two categories, softwood and hardwood. Knowing the difference between hardwood and softwood firewood can help you know how much to pay for a cord of wood as well as how to select the right wood for your needs.

Hardwood usually refers to wood that comes from species of trees that produce hard dense wood. Softwoods are of course the opposite, wood that comes from trees that produce softer and less dense wood. Dense hardwoods are heavier than softwoods because they actually have more wood fiber per volume than softwoods. This means there is more wood to burn in hardwood and more heat.

Resinous softwoods like pine and fir do have a little more energy per weight than non resinous wood because the resins have more heat than wood fiber. But the difference is minimal and is greatly overshadowed by more dense wood.

All wood will have around the same amount of energy per a certain amount of weight. It’s the density of wood that determines the amount of heat per volume. A cord of dense hardwood has more wood fiber than a cord of softwood. It’s the same volume, but the hardwood has more solid wood and weighs more than a cord of softwood.

Hardwood comes from broad leaf trees like oak, madrone, walnut, hickory, alder, maple, birch and aspen. Softwood comes from conifers like pine, fir, larch, redwood and cedar. Not all hardwoods are dense and hard. Some hardwoods like aspen, cottonwood and alder, even though they are technically hardwoods, are less dense and softer than some softwoods and they also burn more like softwoods. For this article, when we talk about hardwood firewood, we will be talking about the more dense hardwoods.

Hardwood is typically considered to be the best firewood and is usually the most popular, where it is available. Hardwood is known for burning long and hot. It puts out more heat over a longer period of time. It burns down to a hot bed of coals that tend to burn clean and put out a lot of radiant heat.

Softwoods and low density hardwood are easier to light than hardwood, especially resinous conifers. This makes these types of wood good for making kindling and starting fires. They produce heat quicker and sometimes produce a more intense heat, but it does not last as long. This makes softwood good for getting quick heat and for campfires and open fireplaces when you want a lot of flames.

Hardwood is more popular for cooking wood. This is because of the way it radiates heat and for its flavour. Resinous softwood will make your food have a “piney” taste. Most hardwood has a much better taste. Popular hardwoods for smoking and cooking are oak, alder, hickory, mesquite and many fruit tree woods.

Hardwood usually costs more per cord than softwood. This is because hardwood is more popular and there is more demand, but mostly because you are getting more heat out of a cord of hardwood.

Both hardwood and softwood firewood have their place. I like to have a mixture of both. All wood will burn and put out heat, so if you have it burn it. Over time and burning different types of wood you will learn which types are best for you.

Learn more about different firewood types and compare the BTU between different species.

What are the Best Firewood Types for Burning?

See firewood BTU charts for best firewood types and energy content by species.

Different species of trees can vary greatly in the way they burn, the amount of heat they put out, and they way they put out heat. Knowing the best firewood types for your needs can help you get better results from your wood burning.

People often ask what the best firewood types are for burning. But this question is not always as easy as saying this is the best wood, now go burn it. It all depends on what you are trying to accomplish by burning the wood. The ideal wood for home heating in a wood stove may not be what someone would want in an open fireplace, or for a campfire, or for cooking wood.

The main difference between firewood types, when it comes to burning, is density. Wood generally has the same amount of heat per weight. The difference is in density. Dense woods have more energy than less dense woods per volume. The exception is with resinous softwoods like fir and pine, which have a little more energy per weight than non resinous wood. This is because the resins have more energy per weight than wood fiber.

Higher density wood will usually burn slower and put out more radiant heat over a longer time. These are the high density hardwoods like oak, hickory and madrone. Low density wood will usually burn faster and put out less total heat over a shorter amount of time. Low density wood is easier to light and can put out more intense flames with intense heat, but for a shorter amount of time. Low density woods are softwoods like fir, pine, cedar and redwood, and the softer hardwoods like cottonwood, aspen and alder.

If you want a lot of radiant heat for home heating, dense hardwoods are hard to beat. You get more total BTU over a long period of time. For lighting fires the less dense woods can be easier to ignite, especially softwoods, which are resinous. Softer wood will also put out heat faster and they make larger and more intense flames, which makes it good for open fireplaces and campfires. For cooking, avoid resinous woods like fir and pine, since it can give food a “piney” taste. Most cooking and smoking is done with dense hardwood. When roasting things like marshmallows where it isn’t over the fire for long, it doesn’t matter much.

Different firewood species can vary in the amount of ash they put out. For example, oak makes great firewood for a wood stove since it burns hot and will hold a bed of coals for a long period of time. But it also produces a lot of ash. For many, putting up with the extra ash is worth its good burning qualities. For those who would rather have less ash, madrone is a better choice.

Resinous softwood is great for lighting fires and in cases where you want more flames. Higher density softwood like Douglas fir and larch (tamarack) can also be good in wood stoves and in my opinion sometimes under rated, but still won’t give the same performance as more dense hardwood. Resinous softwood can also create more creosote buildup.

I often get asked whether a certain type of wood is worth burning. Usually if someone is removing a tree in their yard and want to know whether to cut it into firewood or not. Any wood is good for burning, as long as it is dry. Some are much better than others, but if you have the wood you might as well use it instead of letting it go to waste.

Learn about different types of firewood and the amount of heat energy by species in these firewood BTU charts.

Simple Tips For Drying Firewood

Drying Firewood
Firewood drying in stacks spaced apart to allow air to circulate between them.

Firewood is easy to dry as long as you give it the right drying conditions. With a little basic information about drying firewood, you can avoid the simple mistakes people commonly make. This will give you wood that is easy to light, will burn cleaner, and will give you more heat per cord.

There are two types of wet firewood, green wood and seasoned wood that got wet. If wood is green, that means it is fresh cut from a live tree. Green wood still has moisture inside its living cells and will have tree sap. Seasoned wood is wood that has been allowed to dry long enough for the sap and cellular moisture to escape. When seasoned wood is left out in the rain, it will soak up water and it too will need to be dried again before it is ideal for burning. Green wood takes longer to dry than wet seasoned wood.

Your climate will determine how long it will take for drying firewood. If you have hot dry summers, your wood can dry much faster than if you are in a cool, damp, foggy climate. Drying firewood can take months to over a year or more, depending on the drying conditions. What we are going to teach you here is how to shorten that time.

The fastest way to dry wood is with a drying kiln. But since most of us don’t have a kiln, the next option is to air dry it, or simply leave it out in the open air to dry naturally. Air is what carries the moisture away from the wood as it evaporates. In order for wood to dry, it is very important that it gets plenty of air circulation.

The first step is to cut and split the wood. Wood will dry faster if it is in smaller pieces. A whole log can take years to dry. The exception to this is if the foliage is still attached. A tree that is cut down and left whole, or a standing dead tree, can actually dry quickly through the leaves. But since this is not a practical way for most people to dry firewood, it is best to cut it up and split it into small pieces so there is more surface area for water to evaporate.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to cover green or wet wood as soon as they get it. This is the opposite of what should be done. Not only do they cover it, they cover the whole pile with a tarp all the way to the ground. Doing this prevents air circulation and the wood will be more likely to mold before it ever dries.

If wood is green, it is best to leave it outside in the open air and preferably in the sun. Even in wet weather it is fine to leave it in the rain until dry weather comes when it can start drying. It’s not going to dry while it’s raining, but covering it with a tarp is not going to help it dry either. That will just make it a moldy mess of wet slimy wood instead of just wet wood. So it’s best to leave the tarp off until better drying weather.

Stacking the wood can help it dry faster than if it is left in a random heap. In a heap, the wood on top that is exposed to more air and sun will dry fast but the wood inside the pile will take longer. Stacking the wood in a single row gives exposure to open air on both ends of every piece.

There is a technique for drying wood in a heap that can work well if you are not trying to dry it all as fast as possible. You leave the heaping pile out in the sun. As the top layer of wood dries, you take the dry pieces and put them into your covered storage or wherever you will store your dry wood. Now the wood underneath is exposed to quickly dry. With this technique you just keep peeling the top layer off until the pile is gone.

The most common mistake I see people make when stacking wood is to stack the wood against a wall or stacking multiple rows against each other. This greatly reduces air circulation. When stacking a row of wood next to something or when stacking multiple rows, leave a few inches of space between so air can circulate. See the picture at the top of this article.

Covering Firewood
Only the top of the pile is covered so air can still circulate through the sides.

Once the wood is dry, it should then be covered before wet weather comes. You can cover it with a tarp but only cover the top. Leave the sides exposed so the air can flow.

You can put wet or green wood in a shed, garage, barn, or other structure as long as it gets plenty of air flow. It will still dry this way, but not nearly as quickly as it will in the open sun.

It will dry faster if you leave it outside until it is dry and then bring it in before the weather gets wet. There will be more labor in moving it around this way, so if you have plenty of time for it to dry, you may want to just let it dry inside. But if you want to know how to dry firewood quickly, leave it outside in the sun, if weather conditions allow it.

Drying firewood is simple, it’s just a matter of giving it air circulation while keeping it dry. And if you can add direct sun to the mix, that is ideal. If you have questions or comments please post them below.

How to Stack Firewood

Learn How to Stack Firewood

Learning how to stack firewood is very simple, but many people never learn the right ways to stack wood and end up experiencing catastrophic stack failure (technical term for stack tipping over). They end up having to re-stack it multiple times after it keeps falling over. Or maybe the wood dries very slowly because they didn’t know how to stack it so it will dry faster. Avoiding these problems are very easy, you just need to know a few tips.

So you just got a bunch of firewood and now the question now is, what to do with it? You could just throw it into a random heaping pile. That is what I do most of the time. Since I produce firewood commercially, stacking hundreds of cords of wood is just too much work. So why do people stack wood to begin with? Is it really necessary or is it just just something we do out of habit?

Why Do We Stack Firewood?

As I mentioned above, in my case, stacking that much firewood is just too much work. But if you have only have a cord of wood or even several cords, it may be well worth stacking.

There are several advantages to stacking firewood. Stacking can help it dry faster. For drying wood, air circulation is very important. Stacking wood gets the wood off the ground and exposes both ends of every piece to the open air. It can also expose more wood to the sun if it is outdoors. In a heaping pile, much of the wood is buried underneath where it never gets any sun and air flow is limited.

Stacked wood takes up less space than a heaping pile, it looks better, is easier to measure, is easier to cover, and it helps keep it cleaner by keeping it off the ground.

Stacking Firewood – The How To (finally)

The first thing is the foundation. You need something to stack the wood on. (how is that for stating the obvious?) You could stack it directly on the ground but soil contact will make for wet and dirty wood, and possibly even rotten wood if left long enough. A concrete slab or asphalt is fine to stack it on. A firewood rack is great, whether you buy one or build one. Two parallel poles, 2×4’s or similar material on the ground makes a great foundation. When the pieces are stacked perpendicular to them, they support the ends of the pieces but not the middle of the pieces. This prevents the teeter totter situation that can happen when something is supported in the middle, which could make the pile unstable. The space in the middle also allows air to flow under the pile.

From this point up it’s not exactly rocket science. Simple start putting pieces on top of the stack parallel to each other until the stack is as high as you want. Sounds simple right? It is, but there are a few things to do to prevent catastrophic stack failure (yes I made that term up all by myself).

Firewood Stack
Firwood Criss-Crossed For End Support

Catastrophic stack failure can and does happen . The chances of this can be reduced by paying attention to how the pieces are being placed together. Make sure the stack is going up straight and be mindful of how the pieces are being fit together. Try to fit the pieces together so they are stable. I could go into detail on how to do that but I think you are smart enough to figure it out. In the photo to the left you can see how the pieces are intentionally fit together.

Supports on the end of the stacks can help make the stack more stable. Whether it’s stakes driven into the ground or a firewood rack or some other clever structure you invented. Ideas for how to build a firewood rack is an idea for another post at another time. If you do a search on this site maybe I will have made a post about that by the time you are reading this.

Criss-crossing the pieces on the ends like the picture above can work well for making nice vertical ends if you don’t have a rack or other end supports. This is not the most stable way to stack wood and takes some practice. This should be done after you have some experience stacking wood together tightly, otherwise catastrophic stack failure can result.

Another thing I see people do a lot is stack multiple rows parallel with no space between the stacks. Notice in the photo at the top of this article how the rows have space between them. This allows air to circulate around the end of every piece. If you don’t leave a space between them, this can be worse for air circulation than a heaping pile. The same goes if you are stacking the wood against a wall or fence. Leave a few inches between the stack and the surface.

The Sun Actually Pulls Stacks of Firewood Over?

At least that’s what my great grandma used to say. Many times if you stack green wood it will start to lean toward the sun, sometimes to the point of catastrophic stack failure. (you are just waiting for the day when you get a chance to use the term catastrophic stack failure aren’t you) Anyway, she always thought that the sun somehow pulled on the wood. But I think it has more to do with the sunny side drying and shrinking faster.

Which ever one of those theories you believe, this leaning problem is something that does happen. So if the wood is green, you may want to stack it with a little lean away from the sun to help compensate.

So there you have it, you are now a firewood stacking expert. If you have any questions or comments please post them below.

Firewood Storage – How to Store Firewood

I have been producing firewood commercially, as well as burning it myself, for decades. After producing, hauling, storing and selling thousands of cords of wood, I have learned a lot about how to store firewood. In this article I will teach you some of what I have learned about firewood storage.

When it comes to firewood storage, keeping the wood dry is one of the biggest factors. Wet wood burns less efficiently, produces more smoke and creosote, and is just hard to burn. Wet wood will also decay and grow mold and other fungus.

One of the most important ingredients in keeping wood dry is air circulation. Firewood should be stored in a way that allows moisture in the wood to evaporate. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to cover up wet wood in a way that prevents air circulation.

Covering Wood With a Firewood Tarp

how to stack firewood
Firewood is covered on top but the sides are left open to allow air to circulate.

Many people cover wood with a tarp or plastic sheeting and cover the whole pile all the way to the ground. Covering the whole pile may help keep more rain off but it also holds moisture inside. If there is enough moisture inside, the tarp will start to sweat and drip water back onto the wood.

If you cover your wood with a tarp, it is best to only cover the top of the pile. The edges of the pile should be left open. This allows air to flow under the tarp and through the pile. This way any moisture that gets inside can evaporate. Without air circulation, any moisture inside will stay inside and your wood will dry slowly if at all. These stagnant moist conditions can lead to fungus growth and wood decay.

Keep Firewood Off the Ground

If firewood has direct contact with soil it can become a mess. The wood will absorb moisture from the soil and the soil will usually stick to the wood, often in thick clumps. Where wood and soil make contact makes great habitat for microorganisms, fungus, insects and other things that will create messy decaying wood.

If wood is to be stored outdoors, a concrete slab or asphalt is a great surface to store it on. If this is not available,  tarp on the ground or just about anything that will separate wood from soil will help. Even clean gravel is better than soil.

Stacking Firewood

Stacking firewood is more work than throwing or dumping it into a heaping pile, but it can be worth the extra work. Stacking firewood helps to get the wood off the ground, positions it for better air circulation, and can make it easier to cover. It also can give the wood pile a smaller footprint and save space.

A common mistake people make when stacking firewood is to stack it up against a surface like a wall or fence, or another stack of wood. This is fine if the wood is already dry and stored in a dry place, such as indoors. But if it is wet or green, or has a chance of getting wet, you should leave a few inches of space between stacks or between the stack and any wall or other surface.

Where to Store Firewood

The best location for firewood storage will depend on whether the wood is green or dry. If the wood is green, it is best to leave the wood outside uncovered where it will get full sun. Sun and wind will dry wood faster than if the wood is stored under cover. Even if it gets rained on that is fine. Many claim that wood that is exposed to rain and sun both will dry faster. As hard as that may be to believe, it actually seems to be true. It may be that wetting wood keeps the outside pores open so moisture can better evaporate from deeper inside the wood.

Indoor Firewood Storage

If the wood is already dry, the best place to store it is inside a shed, lean-to or other covered area. Green or wet wood in an enclosed building will not dry as fast as it will outside in the sun. If you do dry it indoors, just make sure the building has good air circulation. An opened walled structure can be better for drying wood than an enclosed structure. Especially if the sunny side is open.

Storing Firewood is a Garage

You can store firewood a garage, but keep in mind you will likely be bringing bugs and debris into your garage. firewood also creates great habitat for mice, spiders and other pests that are best left outside.

Storing Firewood Under Eaves

Under wide eaves can be a good place for firewood storage, but this is best done on the sunny side of a building. This way the wood can quickly dry in the sun if the wind blows rain or snow on it.

Outdoor Firewood Storage

Many firewood users don’t have the luxury of having a covered area for firewood storage. If this is your case you will likely have to stack your firewood outside and cover it with a tarp. Just make sure you use the tips above about covering wood.

Choosing a sunny spot is best. Also consider how easy it will be for a delivery truck to get to the location. If you have to haul it all to your storage area with a wheelbarrow or by hand, that will be a lot of extra work. Also think about how convenient the location will be for you to bring in wood to burn it.