Matt Johnson

How to get Cheap Firewood for Camping

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jul 18, 2022Updated: Dec 24, 2023

When most people think about camping, the first thing that comes to mind is roasting marshmallows around a campfire. And while it’s a fun part of the experience, there are other things you need to consider if you want your camping trip to be successful. One of those is how you’re going to get your hands on cheap firewood for camping.

Of course, you could buy firewood from the nearest gas station or store, but that’s not exactly cheap.

And if you’re planning on doing a lot of cooking while you’re camping, you’re going to need a lot of wood. So how do you get your hands on cheap firewood for camping without spending a fortune? Maybe even free firewood?

Look for Firewood Near CampsiteSearch for leftover or fallen wood around your camping area.Check with the campground host for any restrictions on using local wood.
Ask Friends and FamilyInquire if anyone has extra firewood to spare, especially during summer.A cost-effective way to obtain wood, but availability may vary.
Check with Local BusinessesSome businesses may give away scrap wood, like untreated pallets or construction scraps.Ensure the wood is safe to burn (e.g., untreated and dry).
Online SearchLook for people selling or giving away firewood on platforms like Facebook Marketplace.May find good deals, but consider the cost of transportation if not nearby.
Buy a Small Camping StoveAs an alternative to a campfire, consider using a camping stove for cooking.Useful during burn bans, smoke-free, and convenient, but lacks the traditional campfire experience.

Before we get into how to get cheap firewood, let’s discuss how much you will need and what kind is the best.

What is the best firewood for camping?

Before we dive into a few ways to get cheap firewood for camping, you need to understand the different types of wood available. After all, you want quality firewood for your outdoor fire pit. The three main types of wood are hardwood, softwood, and manufactured logs.

  • Hardwood Firewood. Long burning + expensive
  • Softwood Firewood. Shorter burning + cheaper

Hardwood is the most expensive type of firewood, but it is also the longest-burning and most efficient. Hardwoods include oak, hickory, maple, and cherry. If you’re looking for cheap hardwood, your best bet is to find a local sawmill or firewood dealer.

Softwood is the most common type of firewood and is generally less expensive than hardwood. Softwoods include pine, fir, spruce, and cedar. While softwood doesn’t burn as long as hardwood, it’s still a good option for those on a budget.

Manufactured logs are made from sawdust and other wood waste products. These logs are generally the cheapest type of firewood, but they also don’t burn as long or as hot as hardwood or softwood.

Another consideration is how seasoned the wood is. Seasoned wood is wood that has been cut and allowed to dry for at least six months. Seasoned wood burns better than unseasoned wood and is less likely to produce smoke and sparks. We often call unseasoned wood as being green.

Now that you know the different types of wood available let’s look at how much you would need for a camping trip.

How much firewood do I need for three nights camping?

Firepit with Hardwoods
Using hardwoods such as oak or hickory will make your fire last much longer and burn hotter.

So you’re going out to a new campsite for a three-day weekend. Everything is packed, and you’re ready to go…except you forgot to grab firewood.

How much do you need?

Well, unless you have a huge group with several fire pits at once, you don’t need too much.

  • Estimate Firewood Needs. Plan for 1-2 bundles of hardwood or 3-4 bundles of softwood per night.
  • Hardwood Usage. For hardwoods like oak, 1-2 bundles (5-6 pieces each) are sufficient for a small fire lasting 3-4 hours nightly.
  • Softwood Usage. For softwoods like pine, 3-4 bundles (5-6 pieces each) are needed due to quicker burning.

Keep in mind that this is only an estimate. If you want a longer-lasting fire, use more, harder woods. If you plan on cooking over the fire, you’ll need even more. Countless factors go into how much you need, such as how cured the wood is, the type of wood, how long and hot you are burning, etc.

Now that we have a general idea of how much firewood you need let’s look at how to get it for cheap.

Look for firewood near your campsite.

Cut Chunks of Pine for a Firepit
You can sometimes find chunks of cut pine around a campsite if arborists were clearing land. Ask the campground host for any restrictions before using any local wood.

One way to get cheap firewood for camping is to look for it near your campsite. People will often leave their already cut and seasoned firewood they didn’t use on their trip.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try chopping your wood. This is a great way to work on your ax skills and get some cheap wood for your trip. We don’t recommend cutting down any trees, but often you can find trees that have already fallen.

Another way to get cheap wood is to ask the campground or ranger station if they have any to sell or give away. Often, they will have deadfall or limbs that they need to clear out and would be happy to get rid of it.

Ask friends and family if they have any extra firewood.

Chances are you’re camping in the middle of summer. That means none of your friends or family are burning wood at their home, so they probably have some to spare. Ask around and see if anyone has any they would be willing to part with.

Check with local businesses if they have any scrap wood they’re willing to give away.

While it’s not preferred, you can use scrap wood to fuel your firepit. However, you have to be selective with what you use, as some woods can be treated with chemicals that you don’t want to burn.

Give some local businesses a call and ask if they have any wood they would be willing to give away. You might be surprised how many places have old pallets or other scrap wood they need to get rid of.

Some good options for scrap wood are:

  • Untreated pallets
  • Untreated lumber
  • Construction scraps
  • Tree limbs (these might be relatively green)
  • Firewood from a local sawmill or firewood dealer

Can I burn 2×4 in my fire pit?

We often get asked this question, and the answer is yes, but with some caveats. You should only burn 2×4 leftover slab wood in your fire pit if it is untreated and if it is dry.

Treated lumber has chemicals you don’t want to be released into the air when you burn it. If the lumber is wet, it will produce a lot of smoke and not burn well.

So if you can find some dry, untreated 2x4s, then it’s okay to use in your fire pit. Just be aware that it may produce a lot of sparks and pops. That’s simply the moisture that is locked into the wood trying to escape as it is heated up.

Search online for people who are selling cheap firewood in your area.

Open up Facebook, go to the marketplace, and search for firewood. You might be surprised how many people are selling it for cheap or even giving it away.

You’ll often see arborists selling tree limbs they’ve cut down or even whole trees. If you have a truck, this is a great option to get some cheap wood for your trip.

Some sellers will even deliver the wood to your house or campsite for an additional fee. This is an excellent option if you don’t have a truck or don’t want to deal with the hassle of picking it up yourself.

Buy a small camping stove instead of a campfire.

The last option if you don’t want to buy firewood is to buy a small camping stove. This is an excellent option if you’re not planning on cooking over the fire or want to save some money.

Camping stoves are relatively cheap and easy to find. You can find them at most sporting goods stores or online. They run off of propane or butane and can be a great way to heat food or boil water.

They also don’t produce any smoke, so you won’t have to worry about annoying your neighbors.

The best part, if there’s a burn ban in effect, you can still use your camping stove. They’re typically considered a grill and not necessarily an “open fire.” Just make sure to follow the instructions and be safe.

No matter how you choose to get your firewood, make sure, you get it before you head to the campsite. Nothing is worse than getting there and realizing you don’t have any wood for your fire. Follow these tips, and you’ll be sure to have a great time camping without breaking the bank.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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