Nothing conjures up cozy feelings quite like the crackle of a well-built fire. While stocking up on logs to feed your flame can get pricey, firewood doesn't always have to cost you. We've rounded up several ways you can get firewood for very little (or no) money—all you need are good manners, a watchful eye, and the necessary tools. However, remember that free is only free if you have explicit permission to take it—it never hurts to ask.
If you're new to firewood gathering, it's important to know first what types of firewood work best for your burning method. Different breeds can throw off a variety of heat temps, scents, and burn times, and may be better suited to a wood-burning stove than an outdoor fire pit. Another quick tip to keep in mind: Invest in a firewood rack to keep your stash clean, dry, and pest-free.
Look in Your Local Area
Websites like Craigslist, The Freecycle Network, and Facebook Marketplace can be a useful spot to find people who have no use for their firewood and would love nothing more than for you to take it off their hands. To start your search, you can either post an ad or contact others who have posted about having firewood available. If your neighborhood or town has a special swap group on Facebook, poke around there for leads, too.
Online ads can help you reach a large number of people, but don't hesitate to also post or watch for print ads around your town—the grocery store, post office, town center, or other heavily-trafficked areas may be good places to look for advertisements for free firewood or ask locals if they have logs they want to discard.
Clean up After a Storm
Heavy wind, rain, or snow can often bring down branches or even entire trees, giving you the opportunity for lots of free firewood. The average homeowner may not have the physical capacity, tools, or vehicle space to remove larger fallen branches from their fences or roofs, making this the perfect time for you to step in and haul off the debris for them. Your payoff for a job well done? Free firewood!
Just be sure to get out there quickly (once the storm has passed and it's safe to do so); most towns begin their cleanup efforts rather quickly, which may cause you to miss your opportunity. After large stores, there are usually places where you can discard your tree branches. Try visiting these places to see if they have any extras that you can use as firewood.
Hit up a Construction Site
Another spot to hunt down free firewood near you: anywhere they're building a new home or business. Building can't happen where there are trees, so more often than not there will be a lot of clearing going on to make way for new construction. Take advantage of times where a company (or individual) is cutting down trees only to dispose of them by swooping in and removing the wood for them. You probably won't want all the wood they have (unless you have a ton of free storage space), but after getting permission to relieve them of the mess, you can pick through and take home what you want.
Construction sites are always a good place to start looking for this type of free firewood. If there doesn't seem to be any building going on near you at the moment, try visiting a landfill instead—local construction companies may have already deposited their extra wood there, in which case you should have free reign to dig through and take what you need.
Offer Tree Trimming Services
If you have the expertise and equipment to prune back branches or trees, then you already have all the means necessary to score yourself some free firewood. One way to get started is to drive around looking for dying or overgrown trees that need to be trimmed back (they may be hanging way over into the street or even hovering above someone's house).
You can trim your own trees however often you want, but be sure to get permission from the necessary parties, like your neighbors or the city, before you start cutting away. You'll find that most people are more than happy to have you trim their trees in exchange for the firewood.
Another great idea is to contact local tree trimmers in your area. Most already have ways to dispose of the extra wood they get, but if not, they may be willing to sell it to you for a great price (or simply let you have it) if you inquire. Another opportunity where it doesn't hurt to ask!
Visit a Sawmill
A sawmill's entire function is to produce usable lumber from tree logs, but they typically don't use 100 percent of the tree. Take advantage of the scraps by asking to remove any of the extras they're willing to part with. Often times sawmills will actually pay outside companies to haul away their extras, so they may be able to reduce some costs (albeit minimally) by passing them off to you to use as firewood instead. Win-win!
Use Wooden Pallets for Firewood
In a pinch, wooden pallets (a fave of DIY enthusiasts) may be a good source of firewood. There are plenty of places to score pallets for free, like grocery stores or garden centers, but you'll need to do a little research first to make sure those you've found are safe to burn. As a rule of thumb, never set fire to any pallets that have an abundance of nails, screws, or staples in them. Additionally, steer clear of any pieces that have visible stains (they could be from chemicals or rust) or any that have been marked with a "MB," which denotes the presence of a dangerous treatment known as methyl bromide. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and only burn pallets deemed "safe" outdoors (like in a bonfire), never indoors.