Strategies to finding the right firewood

The key to finding quality firewood seems simple enough, find a tree cut it down, right? It's not always so straight forward. Here are some helpful strategies to find the right timber.

Strategies to finding the right firewood

Know where to look

Dense timbers generally grow in drier areas and at low elevations while light timbers tend to be found in higher rainfall areas at higher elevations. Be wary of discarded or waste timber as it may have been treated with preservatives and could give off toxic gases. Also don't use treated pine logs or sawn timbers such as fence posts or outdoor furniture with a green or yellowish tinge in their wood. That may indicate the wood has copper, or other hazardous chemicals.

Know the laws

If finding local wood proves difficult make sure you know what the rules and restrictions are when you venture out to the country to get your own firewood. Here are some of the common mistakes.

  • Firewood (even dead, fallen timber) may be taken from private property only with the landowner's permission, and in many cases permission will be given only if a fee is paid.
  • Gathering wood from national parks and reserves is not allowed, and even roadside timber may not be gathered without the approval of the local council.
  • Most forestry authorities control the gathering of firewood in their forests by licensing collectors and requiring payment of a royalty for wood taken.
  • Forests in more remote areas are likely to be managed less restrictively, but a firewood license and royalty payment will still be required.
  • Though the real cost of any wood collected may be high, gatherers might treat the task as "a day out in the country", with the wood counted as a bonus.

Finding your own firewood, whether it's just wood found around your neighbourhood or personally chopped down from a day in the country, can be a satisfying and rewarding experience.  Be safe and enjoy the excursion.

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