Letter Re: A Source for Free Firewood

Hello Jim,

Firstly, I would like to thank you for your books and all the information you make available on your blog. The last three years have been very hard on my family and I, but have given us a needed shove to be prepared for what life can throw at us. The information we have gained from you and your site has been invaluable. I thought I would let you know of a free source for firewood. I work for a large pallet company. Every day we bring in many truck loads of broken pallets to be repaired. Pallets that can’t be repaired or torn apart and used to make new pallets are hauled to the dump where they are shredded into mulch (6+ semi-trailer loads per day.) The company gives away pallets of 2x4s for free to whomever calls and asks for them. Giving them away saves the expense of hauling them to the dump. A person took 12 pallets of 2X4s the other day, so to say the least, there is an abundance of wood available. The stacks of 2x4s are approximately 4′ x 4′ x 4′ and are not stacks of bone dry, weathered wood. Most boards are pine but there can be oak and other species in the stacks. They would have to be cut in half to fit into most stoves or fireplaces but they are free for the taking. All you have to do is pick them up. Call your local pallet company to see if they have a similar deal. This is an easy way to build up a large supply of firewood! Big Wall

JWR Replies: I live in a region that has plentiful firewood. I love burning Western Larch and Red Fir. But I’m a fan of using pallet wood, mainly as a source of kindling. Just show caution and never burn treated wood, or wood that has been visibly contaminated with chemicals. In my experience, it is not worth the effort to pull nails and staples from pallets. Those twist-shank nails must have been designed by someone with a sadistic streak. (They are an absolute pain to pull.) So I instead just cut up pallets with a Skilsaw. In fact, I have a dedicated older saw with a well-used blade that I use for just this purpose. I don’t put my new blades at risk, because just one accidental touch of nail will instantly dull a blade!)