Where To Buy Firewood

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Whether you've got an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire pit, this is a great time of year to stock up on firewood!

If you live where the air turns crisp and cool in fall, chances are you know the joys of gathering around a wood-burning fireplace or bonfire with friends and family. Chances are you also know that sometimes getting firewood when you need it can be a chore.

We’re here to help. Here’s a quick overview of what to look for when buying firewood and five ways to stock up, with options to fit any budget or schedule.

What To Know About Buying Firewood

There are three main considerations when buying firewood: quality, quantity and cost.

Quality

First of all, it helps to know what kinds of wood burn most efficiently. For our purposes, it mostly comes down to whether the wood is dry, or has had excessive exposure to the elements and insects. If it’s the latter, better to pass it up.

Dry wood is what you want — it’s lighter, burns easily and produces less smoke. Wood dries two ways. “Seasoned” wood has been air dried for six months to a year; “kiln dried” wood is dried in a large oven. Kiln drying also kills insects and mildew on the wood.

Quantity

Quantity is more complicated. The standards for firewood measurement vary by state. Search for the specifics for where you live. But generally, bulk firewood is measured by the cord or face cord.

A “cord” of wood is 128 cubic feet — usually eight feet long, four feet high and four feet deep. That’s a lot of wood, and many homeowners don’t want to buy that much.

A “face cord” is eight feet long and four feet wide, but only one log deep. Because there’s no exact agreement on how big a log is, a face cord’s size can vary. If the logs are 16 inches long, that face cord would be one-third of a cord.

You may also see firewood sold by the truckload, especially with less formal sellers. That’s a flat fee for however much you can fit in the back of your pickup.

Cost

Season and location determines cost, which varies significantly. As of this writing, a supplier in Maine charges $295, one in Wisconsin $487, and one in Oregon $540.

Where to Buy Firewood

There are a number of places to find fuel for your fire:

Grocery stores and gas stations

These bundles of firewood tend to be nicely seasoned and easy to move. Often wrapped in sturdy plastic with a handle on top, you’ll pay for the convenience of these bundles. But if you’re just looking for a few logs to throw on the fire pit that night, they’re a great option. To find one near you, keep an eye out as you pass gas stations and grocery stores in your area.

Special note: Firewood can spread insect or mildew infections if moved to a new area. Any transported firewood should be kiln-dried, and many state and national parks do not allow outside firewood to be brought in at all. Go to Dontmovefirewood.org to find a list of restrictions where you live.

Pros:

  • Convenience!
  • Lower up-front cost than most other buying options.
  • Less commitment required — grab what you need, when you need it.
  • Less storage space required at home.

Cons:

  • Higher cost per log than any other source.

Dedicated firewood distributors

Various distributors sell firewood commercially and to consumers. The links in the “Cost” section above are to distributors who sell to consumers regionally, offering pickup and delivery options. There are also online distributors, from small boxes of logs on Amazon to boutique, white-glove delivery service where you can get one-third of a cord for $1,699!

Pros:

  • Convenience of delivery (some even offer stacking services).
  • Local distributors offer pickup.
  • Sales reps understand firewood.
  • Great resource if you want a specific type of wood such as cherry or hickory.

Cons:

  • Online pricing varies wildly.
  • You may not be able to see the wood before purchasing.

Online listings

Online groups and marketplaces like Craigslist, NextDoor and Facebook Marketplace turn your city into a giant garage sale. Check for deals posted by everyone from pros advertising regular sales to individual homeowners looking to clear up yard space.

Pros:

  • Can be a source of great deals.
  • Local.
  • Easy online browsing.

Cons:

  • Buyer beware! Quantity and quality of wood varies greatly.
  • May not be any listings when you need it in a pinch.

Tree services

Tree trimming services often set aside trunk sections for later resale to individuals. Call around or check out their website.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • May be pre-stacked or even delivered.

Cons:

  • Normally wet wood, not ready for immediate burning.
  • May be sold as uncut trunk sections, requiring a log splitter or some serious wood chopping skills.

Independent sellers

In some parts of the country, it’s common for entrepreneurial individuals with a pickup truck and some excess trees to split load up a truck and sell it door to door.

Pros:

  • Typically great pricing.
  • Convenience of doorstep delivery.
  • Opportunity to establish relationship with the provider, meaning great deals and service.

Cons:

  • May not be available when you need it.
  • May be green wood.

Big box stores

Stores like Lowe’s and The Home Depot sell lots of fire pits and outdoor living accessories, so it’s no surprise they stock firewood in season. They buy firewood in bulk, usually kiln-dried. Stop by or call your local stores to see if they’re selling wood this year.

Pros:

  • Convenient.
  • Often sold by the cord or pallet, as well as in bundles.
  • Often have truck rental services to make getting it home easier.
  • Usually kiln-dried.

Cons:

  • Mediocre pricing — better than gas stations, but not as good as other options on this list.

Start a scrap bin

This is a classic solution for DIYers! Set aside a garbage can or bin near your workshop and toss in any scrap wood for later burning. Remember that you should never burn pressure-treated wood, or wood that has been painted or stained. Both can release toxins in the smoke.

Pros:

  • Free!
  • Reduces landfill waste.
  • Satisfaction of bringing the DIY attitude to your fire pit.

Cons:

  • May not be enough to keep you through winter.
  • Takes up shop space.
  • Can’t burn wood that has been painted or stained.
  • Can’t burn pressure-treated wood.

Dan Stout
Ohio-based freelance writer and author Dan Stout is a former residential remodeler, commercial site supervisor and maintenance manager. He’s worked on nearly all aspects of building and DIY including project planning and permitting, plumbing, basic electric, drywall, carpentry, tiling, painting and more. He also publishes noir fantasy thrillers, including The Carter Series, from Penguin imprint DAW Books.