5 Camping Firewood Tips
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I recently went on a camping trip with my wife. And we wanted to make a campfire. So I researched how to source firewood at the campsite.
All firewood must be sourced within a few miles of your campsite. This prevents the introduction of diseases and insects into the local forest. Mini campgrounds you are not allowed to use wood that you find at the campsite. You must purchase it at a local store. This could be from a person who sells wood as a way to make an extra buck. Or from a local gas station or big box hardware store. Make sure the wood is dried. And you most likely will buy it by the bundle. Plan on 3 to 4 bundles of firewood per night.
According to the Camper Report, 81% of campers enjoy spending time around the campfire. And this is why it’s important to learn how to properly bring firewood with you to your campsite.
How To Source Camping Firewood
While it is tempting to buy firewood before you leave for your camping trip, this is not allowed at most campgrounds. This is because of invasive insects and diseases. You can more about this problem by checking out Don’t Move Firewood.
Campgrounds do not allow firewood from outside sources as a way to save our trees. There are diseases and insects that can destroy an entire forest just as much as a runaway campfire. Which is why many campgrounds will not allow you to bring in outside wood.
Most campgrounds also will not allow you to forage for wood within the local forest.
Thus you will need to purchase your firewood prior to entering the campsite. You should be able to find plenty of sources of firewood nearby. It’s typically local people who will sell it. Most gas stations will be selling firewood.
And of course, local hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s will sell it as well. You will typically buy this firewood by the bundle. There is no standard size for a bundle but plan on having 3 to 5 bundles of wood per night while camping.
Where To Buy Firewood For Camping
As we mentioned above, you cannot bring in wood from home. The wood must come from a local source within a few miles. There is sometimes exceptions for kindling wood that has been kiln-dried (thus killing all of the pests and diseases) and sealed up.
However, the actual firewood, you will need to actually buy locally.
There will be 3 common options:
Local Wood Shops
In many small towns with a popular campground, there is likely going to be a few people who sell firewood.
They typically have access to land and trees. And they process it themselves.
Either because they run a wood shop or as a way to make some extra money.
They are unlikely to advertise. And so you will have to be on the lookout.
You can ask the park attendants or fellow campers if they know anyone if you don’t see someone.
The benefit of buying from the “local wood guy” is that they’re going to know as much about the wood as there is to know.
Plus they may be cheaper than other options and have a wider selection of wood.
Gas Stations and Grocery Stores
Outside of the local gas station and grocery store you should find stacks of wood for sale. They will not have a wide selection.
And the staff in the store are unlikely to know much about the wood. They might even be shocked to discover they’re selling firewood :).
And this wood might even be more expensive because they’re taking advantage of the fact that their gas station is much easier to find than “Uncle Dootle” whose idea of marketing is the stack of wood in his backyard.
Home Depot and Lowes
If the area has a big box store such as Home Depot or Lowes then you should also be able to find firewood here.
I have seen firewood stacked outside as well as within the store. Go look in the grilling section if you don’t see it outside.
Home Depot and Lowes will also sell kindling wood. It will be kiln-dried and sealed up. This can help get your fire started with your tinder.
How To Choose Firewood
A live tree is like the human body and mostly water. and this is still true when a tree limb falls or a tree is first cut down. You cannot burn green wood. We have to wait for the word to season. What is considered to be seasoned when it only has 20% moisture content.
You can check the firewood visually and audibly. Look at the word and if you see any green and you know the word is still wet. If the word looks like lumber at Home Depot then it is still too wet to burn.
When you crack two pieces of wood together and they sound like a baseball bat or hitting a homerun then you know you have good wood for burning. If you really want to be scientific about it you could bring along a moisture meter.
How To Store Firewood
Since we are only talking about camping firewood we don’t have to worry about wood storage as much.
Basically you just wanna keep the wood dry. The dryer the wood the better it will burn of course.
However, if your firewood does get wet this doesn’t mean you can’t make a campfire.
It will just be harder to get the fire started.
But for camping organization and safety keep your firewood a single location. Out of the way. And of course, don’t store it near any kind of stove or gasoline or generator that could spark a fire.
How To Keep Firewood Dry
Nothing is worse than being cold and wet and needing a fire to keep warm. Only to find out that your firewood is soaked too.
While it is possible to start a campfire with wet wood, as you would expect it is much more difficult. You will need more tinder and kindling to get the fire started. Wet will also cause more smoke.
This is why you want to keep your camping firewood as dry as possible.
This is not as hard as it might sound.
A simple way to do this is just to keep your wood wrapped up in a tarp. If you want you can also put it on top of rocks. Or some wood pallets.
If you have space in your vehicle, then you could be stored in the vehicle as well until you’re ready for its use.