#17 – From Forest to Fireplace: Where and How to Find the Best Firewood

Published by: The Ready Life

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What We Covered

Wood heat is the most independent heat source there is! But there’s one downside–it requires wood.

Unfortunately, firewood doesn’t usually fall in your lap! And while it can be hard to come by in some locations, we share our top 6 sources for where to find firewood. Some of them can make your life a lot easier!

We’ll also discuss some tips for wood heat alternatives that are still fairly independent. And on this episode we are giving away a free eBook on heating with wood.


00:00 – Intro
04:05 – On your property
06:45 – National / State forest
08:33 – Wood mills
09:29 – Logging truck load
10:56 – Online sites
12:05 – Cut/split/delivered by the cord
13:18 – Energy Logs
16:08 – Alternatives to wood heat

Important Links

  • Heating With Wood eBook – Download your free copy. This eBook will get you started with wood heat so your family won’t ever suffer again during a winter blackout.
  • Sustainable Preparedness – details on how to make your homestead systems (water, power, heat, etc) more independent


Hi there, I’m Lisa Meissner. And I’m Nick, her husband. Welcome back to the Ready Life podcast, where we show you how to set up your homestead as independently as possible for the basic necessities of life, like water, heat, food, and power too. Today’s episode we’re going to be looking at heat, sources of heat. Heat is a basic necessity of life.

You cannot live without it and So whatever you use as your primary source of heat, you need to make sure you have a backup or a non-electric option. Wood would be the most independent option because you can grow your own fuel on your property, especially if you have enough timberland. But it might make sense to source your wood from other places while you can rather than cutting down the trees on your own property right now. Save those trees for a time of crisis or when you can’t access other sources of wood. So that’s what we’re gonna talk about here.

We’re gonna give you a list of some of the best options for finding good quality firewood. But before we start, I wanna mention that we feel so strongly about the importance of wood heat that we have a free gift for you, and it’s an e-book that’s called Heating with Wood. Imagine that. This 12-page book is going to walk you through what you need to know to get started with setting up your own independent heat source. Everything from the types of wood that are better than others, to wood stoves, to chainsaws, and even crosscut saws.

It’s a great little primer that’ll get you started with this. So to download this free ebook just visit the readylife.com/woodheat that’s all 1 word, lowercase.  thereadylife.com/woodheat or you can click on the link in the show notes page. Now back to our list of best options for where you can find firewood. Now I just got to say heating with Wood is probably my number 1 favorite method of heating at home. There’s nothing like going outside and playing in the cold snow and then marching in the door and backing up to that nice warm heat.

That’s true. When we go and visit other people that don’t have wood heat, we find ourselves inevitably backing up to something. They’ll have 1 of these gas fireplaces, pretend fireplaces, and even if the thing isn’t on, we just kind of automatically go and back up to it. And it’s kind of hilarious but once you’ve heated with wood you’ll know what what I mean there’s nothing like the the radiant heat you know I actually learned that wood heat when wood is burning it’s actually giving off infrared and so a certain amount of infrared. So I think that’s why it just penetrates your body and warms you up like nothing else.

It’s kind of like having a little infrared sauna there, little infrared heater. Wow, so we could talk about the health benefits of infrared here, right? We’re getting off topic here. For sure. Back to our list of options.

Where are we going to get firewood from? So starting with the least expensive. What would be the least expensive option for where we could get firewood? Well, the least expensive option is obviously going to be what you’re already growing on your own property. So look around your property.

There’s probably trees that have been blown over by windstorms, or there are stags that are still standing but they’re dead, those are going to be really great sources of firewood. And I would recommend using those even if you do get your firewood from other locations, just simply because it’s good to keep your forest healthy by clearing out the dead stuff. So those are great sources of firewood also. And you may want to do some intentional thinning also on a previous episode where we were talking about dealing with fire, wildfires, we mentioned thinning your forest so that it will drive the fire down to the ground or at least help to prevent the spread of a crown fire. And that can be a great source of firewood depending on how much property you have and how thickly forested it is and things like that.

And it’s healthier for your forest too. I think we mentioned that also. Right. But you would be taking the trees that aren’t so good and leaving the good trees to create a really nice healthy forest. But that’s 1 option.

However, I will say, especially if you have a limited number of acres, like I think it’s ideal to have at least 5 acres of timber land in order to have a good, sustainable source of firewood. And so especially if you’ve got less than that, but even if you have a little more than that, it’s a good idea to now, while you can get firewood from other sources like you mentioned earlier, to save the wood that’s on your property. So I would not recommend going around and intentionally cutting wood just for firewood right now. Save that for a time when you might have to do that. And right now, only cut the trees that you need to to make your forest healthy or grab the dead stuff that’s out there.

And realize that anything that you cut that’s green, it’s gonna take time to dry it out. You’re going to want it to dry for, you know, preferably a year at least after you cut it and split it. So if you cut it down, you want to not just leave that log there sitting there, it doesn’t dry very fast at all that way. You have to buck it up into pieces and split it to get it to dry fast. So you go ahead and do that and you’ll have firewood next year probably.

Yes, for sure. Also What we do actually for our firewood is, of course, besides collecting the dead stuff or the stags that we find on our property, we actually get our firewood from national or state forest land. You can go get a personal firewood permit to go onto state or national forest land and then find those dead stags or those downed trees and get those. Like I said, you do need to get a permit and the permits depending upon where you’re at or where you get your permit from, I think it’s like around $5 the cord. I think ours was actually free this year.

It depends on the department and the area, but that seems to be a typical number that we see is $5 a cord. Yeah. So, and then of course it may prohibit you from harvesting certain species of trees or whatever. Like around here, you can’t take cedar, even if it’s dead for whatever reason. I forget, I think I’ve heard in the past what the reason was, but I don’t want you taking any cedar.

And in other locations, like I was just, we were visiting with some friends in another state back east, and he was telling me that on the state forest there, he gets a permit, but he can’t take anything that’s standing. So even if it’s dead, if it’s still standing, he can’t take it, it has to be down. So, you know, you just learn the intricacies of wherever you’re harvesting, but that can be a great source that costs little to nothing for firewood. Just requires elbow grease. That’s a good elbow grease.

That’s right, that’s right. So another option is lumber mills. You can sometimes find scraps at lumber mills and they’re wanting to get rid of them or maybe they sell them for a cheap price and I know of folks that that was their primary source of firewood was I believe it was railroad ties if I’m not mistaken that they a Plant where they would cut railroad ties and This was obviously before they were coated in creosote. This was the raw wood and it was, you know, pieces that were, you know, too short to be railroad ties and what was left over. And that was a great source for them.

So that can be a fairly cost-effective option, just depends on how much the mill is charging, but that’s something to look for if you’ve got lumber mills in your area. And speaking of lumber mills, in our area at least we have a lot of loggers that will go out and collect the trees that have been cut down and haul them off to the lumber mills. But you can actually purchase a truckload of wood, which I think a truckload would have around 10 to 15 cords of firewood on it. And it’s actually quite cost effective. Of course, you still have to do the bucking and the splitting, but you can get a whole truckload of logs delivered to your property.

I think it’s around $1, 000 or $2, 000, depending upon the area and the loggers that you’re in contact with. But we did that. I think we paid $1, 500 maybe, something like that. Yeah, that rings a bell. Even recently, I’ve seen prices in that price range around here.

Yeah, yeah. So if you live in an area where there’s a lot of logging operations, you might be able to get your hands on a truckload of firewood. And just to be clear, these are generally going to be coals, where they’re logs that they would not want to take to the mill because maybe they were crooked or too small or whatever. And that’s why they would be willing to sell them for firewood for probably less than they would get at the mill. At the lumber mill.

Yeah. Yeah. So anyway, you can find truckloads like that sometimes on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, penny-pincher type papers if you have something like that in your area. Sometimes you can even find them on community cork boards where somebody’s a trucker and they’re hauling wood but there’s this pile of wood and they’re they’re advertising to try and sell the truckload of wood for firewood for people so we did that at least 1 year that I can remember. It gave us about 2 and a half 2 2 and a half years of firewood.

So I think we figured that we got a little on the shy end. I don’t think we got any 15 cords. I think it was more like 10, 12, maybe 12, But yeah, somewhere in that range. So it just depends, but it can be a good source. And like you said, I think it turned out being a hundred bucks a cord for us.

Which is really inexpensive, depending upon your area. Because then you’re not having to go hunting all over the forest service to find wood, which can take time. And then haul it out and all of that. So then stepping up in the price range a bit would be buying firewood from a little, it could be a company or it could be just a guy with a pickup and a chainsaw that goes out in the forest and cuts firewood, splits it and will haul it to your place, cut and split. And that could be, you know, once again, it depends on the area.

I’m giving prices that are common in our area 2 to 300 could be even more than 300 Especially nowadays last year. I think it was more than 300 Yeah, the so it but I’ve seen prices less, you know, if you get from a really good quality reputable source You’re gonna pay more just have to beware because there are some characters out there that will cut, we have friends that got a truckload of wood from 1 of these characters and they delivered it and it was green wood still dripping with sap and everything. So you just want to do a little research and take a look at what they’re going to be bringing you. But that’s an option as well. If you’re willing to pay a little more, it’s more convenient.

And yeah, what’s another 1? So right in that same price range actually we have found energy logs to be a really great option and in fact even though we do get our firewood from the Forest Service and use regular cut split, we like to get at least 1 pallet or 2 pallets of energy logs to mix for our nighttime routine. We use like 1 energy log in our stove for overnight. And it’s really nice. We’ve really, really enjoyed using those.

And the price for a pallet of energy logs is very comparable to a quart of firewood. So yeah, we’ve found that to be a really great option. And just to be clear, Energy Logs, that is a brand name of a company in our area, so it’s probably going to be called something else in your area. But basically, you’ve seen them around. It’s basically sawdust from sawmills that has been highly compressed into the shape of a log.

And you know, you’ve probably seen them at hardware stores and places like that. And if you buy them, just buy the piece or in small containers, they’re gonna be really, really expensive. But you can usually find a brand that makes them where you can buy them in larger quantities, a whole pallet of them at a time. And that’s what we’re talking about with the energy logs that we have gotten. They don’t have any additives, nothing that’s gonna clog up your catalytic combustor if you have 1, and it’s just sawdust, and they use steam and high pressure to compress them.

And the thing that I like about them is that they keep the temperature up really well at night. And so, yeah, I throw them in at nighttime with the other logs, throw 1 in with my regular wood, and it just helps keep the temperature up there where it’s in the good combustion range for a catalytic combustor and just makes everything work really, really nice. So if you can, that’s a great option as well. Not a very independent option for sure, but it’s nice. But if you’re buying your firewood, like last year, the price of firewood, to buy a quart of firewood was really high, higher than I’ve seen it before.

And so it was actually cheaper to just buy energy logs even than to buy cords of firewood from a local guy. So at least for last year, that was a really great option, those energy logs were. So. And then finally, the last item on our list was just if you were going to use another source of heat. And while it’s not as independent as wood heat, other options that could be used off the grid, where they could still be kind of pseudo-independent, where you can store up the fuel and you could power it with an off-grid power system or something like that.

Some of those options would be like pellet stoves or some fuel oil heaters or some propane direct vent heaters. There may be other options too, but those are the primary ones that come to my mind. Those are options where you could, like I said, store up the fuel source for a whole year, a couple of years, and as long as you were making your own electricity to power the small amount of power that some of these might require, then you should be good to go and that could be an option as well. The pellet stoves do require a little bit of power, but there are some fuel oil heaters and propane direct vent heaters that don’t use any power at all, so they could be completely non-electric. So those are options as well that I wanted to throw in there, even though this is about firewood, just to make it clear that there are other options.

But just remember that every home needs a wood stove and a supply of wood for just at least for a backup. If nothing else, you need to have a reliable, non-electric source of heat because it’s 1 of these basic necessities of life and that’s really important. And here’s the nice thing is that a wood stove can double as a cook surface in times of like power outages or things like that so having a wood stove in your home really is a must for everyone. And if you have a wood cook stove, then it’s doing multi-purpose because you have a much better system for cooking and you can bake with it, and you can heat your hot water in the wintertime with it. Yeah, there’s so much you can do with a wood-cooked stove.

Dehydrate with it, all sorts of things. We should do a podcast on wood-cooked stoves. Yeah, we should. So, coming up in the not too distant future, hopefully. And don’t forget to grab your ebook, Heating with Wood, by visiting the link, thereadylife.com/woodheat, or by visiting the show notes page at the readylife.com/17.

Well I hope this was helpful. Thanks for joining us on this episode and wish you great success in getting your firewood in if you’re going to be heating with wood this winter and we’ll look forward to seeing you next time.

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