In the case of any major disaster, most preppers intend to use wood fire for cooking and heating. That makes a lot of sense, considering that our ancestors did that for millennia. For that matter, until fairly recent times, wood has been the number one heating fuel in use. There are still plenty of people who do so today.
Wood is one of the few fuels we can harvest ourselves, with limited equipment. There has been a lot of firewood harvested through the years, with nothing more than an axe and a saw. Yet the biggest problems that are likely to face us in harvesting wood during a time of crisis aren’t the tools, but first in finding the trees to cut and then in hauling the wood back home.
Heating with wood isn’t rocket science. Nor is it something that only preppers can think of. Should a major disaster occur, leaving us without power for a prolonged period of time, you can be sure that a lot of people will be out there, cutting down every tree they can find. You can forget about cutting firewood at your local park, even if it has a small patch of woods. That will disappear within days.
People who are accustomed to heating their homes with wood typically burn somewhere between four and six cords of wood per winter. That’s full cords, not face cords; and we’re talking good hardwood too.
As with everything else we need, the solution is to stockpile it ahead of time. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if we plan it right, we can probably do that for free. There are always opportunities to get free firewood, if you’ve got a chainsaw and a truck (or cargo trailer).
- Keep your eyes open for dead trees in the neighborhood or dead branches on trees. When you find them, be a good neighbor and offer to cut them down for free. All they have to do is let you have the wood, which they’ll probably be more than willing to do.
- After a serious storm, drive around town, looking for downed trees and branches. Most people don’t have the necessary equipment to cut those up, so end up paying someone to take care of it for them. They’d probably be so happy that you offer to do so, that they’ll give you a tip, on top of the wood.
- Keep your eyes open for construction projects which might require clearing land. Contractors normally do that the fast way, using a bulldozer. But they’ll usually allow you to scavenge what you want, as it saves them from having to pay to haul it off.
- If you’re not getting enough firewood from those sources, put an ad on Craig’s List or on the bulletin board at your local grocery store. There are always people looking for help.
- Every city seems to have a business that recycles pallets. Typically, they have a big stack of scrap, basically pallets that are in such bad shape, they can’t be reused. While they usually try to sell them, if you catch them with a big pile, you might be able to get them for free.
- Check behind small warehouse too for used pallets. While recyclers often make deals with big businesses, picking up their used pallets, they don’t bother with the small ones. It’s too much work for the amount of wood they get.
- Check in with your local landfill. They often have a “green refuse” pile, of cut trees and brush brought in by landscaping contractors. You can usually get all you want for free.
Keep in mind that firewood needs a year to dry out, before using. During that time, it really needs to be protected from the rain. So don’t forget to set up some shed roofs over your wood or cover it with tarps.