Is FIREWOOD the Next Shortage in America?

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By the author of The Faithful Prepper and The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications,

There’s a chance that a very cold winter awaits people around the globe this year. Why? Because of a firewood shortage. And this may be a problem that hits closer to home than you would think. What are the developments here? What are we seeing?

Let’s take a closer look.

Are firewood shortages something new? 

Perhaps we should start off by saying that firewood shortages aren’t necessarily a new development. We’ve seen them in the past. For example, we saw one in both 2014 and in 2021. But in the spirit of never-ending shortages, it seems as if we’re going to face one in this department this year as well.

For now, let’s start with looking at Europe.

Europe is chilly. 

It’s no secret that Europeans are going to have a hard time staying warm this winter. Germany essentially shot itself in the foot with their refusal to make their country energy independent. At one time, they laughed at the idea that their country’s dependence on Russian fuel was a risk to both their national security and sovereignty.

Now? Not so much.

Ever since Russia has cut off the natural gas supplies to the country, we’ve seen numerous stories trickle out about an explosion in wood-burning stove sales and firewood within Germany. Waiting times for wood-burning stoves are said to be at least a year. They now have such a bad firewood shortage problem that people have resorted to “stealing” firewood from the national forests there.

Switzerland is apparently facing the same problem, with an increase in “wood thefts” being reported as firewood shortages loom.

Markus Amhof is the forester of the Swiss canton of Zug. Of the crime of removing firewood from German forests, Amhof says, “If the wood is not available and people are freezing, the inhibition threshold drops.”

Zug.

Yeah, I imagine so.

Freeze to death, or pick up some sticks off the ground?

Which would you choose?

There, Thomas Studer, the head of forestry in the canton of Leberberg, says that “We rely on a little civil courage here” to keep people from taking firewood from national forests. Of the number of reports he’s receiving of stolen firewood, he says, “We’re grateful for that. We then remove the wood from this location.”

He goes on to add, “It’s theft and therefore punishable.”

Poland is seeing similar problems, where the government has advised the people to begin to stockpile as much firewood as possible due to – yet another shortage – of coal.

There, Edward Siarka, the Deputy Minister of Climate and Energy, says, “Those wishing to gather wood must first undergo training and obtain permission from the local forestry unit.”

I’m not entirely clear what this training entails.

But it’s not just Europe. 

Now, we’re hearing some anecdotal reports come out of the United States that seem to report similar problems. We may be witnessing the beginnings of a firewood shortage here.

At least in Vermont, we’re seeing rising firewood prices. Some of this price increase, of course, will be due to the changing of the seasons. But even firewood sellers indicate that not all of these price hikes are a result of the incoming winter.

“We are having a harder time buying the log-length wood with our suppliers this year,” said Lynn Gardner of Clifford Lumber in Hinesburg, Vermont.

He also pointed to rising fuel costs causing him to have to bump his prices up.

I’m hearing other stories from people that Maine is experiencing a hard time keeping firewood “on the shelves” as well. People everywhere are buying it up. Reports are coming in of firewood suppliers up there being sold out for the season already.

In my looks through a number of firewood sellers, I repeatedly have found that people are already sold out for the season of a number of their products (you can buy different types of wood for firewood, hence, “products”). I think that a part of this within the States may be a result of the increase in the number of people interested in taking care of themselves and being self-sufficient that we have seen ever since 2020 showed people the fragility of the supply chain system.

Rising costs of everything are likely another reason we’re seeing supply chain shortages of firewood. Why pay the electric company when you can heat your home with the trees in your backyard?

(Aside from freezing to death, what else should you do to stay alive in winter? Check out our free QUICKSTART Guide for more info.)

But the reason I say all this is to make an important point: 

Who are the people who most need to buy firewood?

They’re those who can’t cut and split it themselves.

In my experience, these are typically older people. They turn to wood heat because it is cheaper, more reliable (e.g., power outages in winter), and offers a “warmer” heat that easily reaches chilled bones.

firewood shortage

If there are older people in your family or community, do what you can to make sure that they are prepared for whatever this winter may throw America’s way. Maybe we’re in the beginnings of our own major firewood shortage already. Maybe we’re not. I don’t know for certain.

But what I do know is that it’s better to do what you can now to protect these people than it is to wait until it’s too late. Because that is what true men do. True men protect their loved ones as well as the weak. The elders in your community who desperately need to stay warm may very well need America’s men to step up to the plate.

If you have the physical capacity and can carve out the time, maybe spend a little bit of time with a maul these next few weeks. Maybe be willing to hop in the truck to help somebody else out. Maybe take the time to drive a bit out of your way to pick up a cord for somebody that wouldn’t otherwise have the ability to get it.

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This is practical preparedness and a great way to build a stronger community as well.

What are your thoughts? Are you seeing firewood shortages in your area? Or is this just the same story we see every year? Fill us in on your thoughts in the comments below.

About Aden

Aden Tate is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com and TheFrugalite.com. Aden runs a micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has four published books, What School Should Have Taught You, The Faithful Prepper An Arm and a Leg, The Prepper’s Guide to Post-Disaster Communications, and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.

Aden Tate

Aden Tate

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  • A lot of people are going to be found dead in the woods trying to fell standing dead. Also known as “widow makers”. Standing dead is very tempting to take and, while it sounds hypocritical, I do drop standing dead. But I have a on a hardhat and harness with a carabiner on an upper spine loop between my shoulder blades and my wife holding the rope watching the trunk and top. If I feel the slightest tug, I let the saw go and run like hell in the direction she is moving to.

    No shortage of good seasoned firewood in my area. Not yet anyway. Lots of ash trees dead from the bug introduced by our friends in China.

    I’d gladly allow folks around here come onto me and take windblown cherry, maple, and beech along my hedgerows for free.

  • Thanks Aden for the timely article.

    I usually like to keep 2 years worth of wood on hand but this year I’ve pushed it closer to 3 years. Wood is usually available for free if you look at Craigslist or people that cut down a tree and leave the oversized pieces at the edge of the road, don’t expect oak or any of the better hardwoods though. Pallets are another option.

    As for chainsaws Poulan while not as good as they were in the past but if treated well will run well enough; that means ethanol free gas and stabilizer and to run it dry if you are not planning to use it for a while.
    This would also be the time to get spare chains, bars and other parts. One advantage with Poulan saws is as most people destroy them through neglect you can them cheap or even free and pluck them for spare parts.

    Need I mention chimney brushes, poles, fire bricks and other spare parts and such for your wood stove? Don’t forget to clean the chimney now so you can check if it’s OK in the event of a future power outage. CO detectors and a fire extinguisher would be a good idea also.

  • I wish my son was a True man but he doesn’t think anything will happen so he won’t help me. I live on disability which only goes so far. Boy will he be in for a surprise when we can’t cook because we have no firewood

  • Interesting. I wasn’t aware there might be a firewood shortage. We are prepared for the next few years with firewood and kindling, but it’s a good point about reaching out to the elderly to do what we can to help. None of my neighbors are in that situation but we’ll keep an eye out.

  • We have been heating with wood for over 10 years.
    This year was the first time we have seen major price increases. We buy wood as we are keeping the wood on our property for future, SHTF use. Might be seeing that starting next year.

    Cleaned out the chimneys and wood furnace. Usual annual maintenance.
    Last night ran a fire in the new wood stove, needs breaking in. Was not cheap but puts out a lot more heat, using less wood. Has a cook top too.

    • We heat with wood, too. Our firewood vendor didnt change the price, but the pieces are 1 inch shorter and we are getting fewer of them per load. I actually cut and split some oak this year, but we won’ t burn that until next winter.

    • The only thing stopping us from getting a fireplace is that we are asthmatic with wood fires. We have propane heat but not sure how we can help ourselves when SHTF…breathe vs. freeze? Insights?

      • Outdoor wood boiler.

        I have one as well as an indoor wood stove that I can cook on.

        The boiler heats my domestic hot water, the basement, and first floor. The wood stove on the first floor supplements the first floor and second story. At least it did when I lived in the old house, which was built in 1890.

        The outdoor boiler is a marvel. Without reservation I highly recommend one, especially given your condition.

        • When we lived way up in the frozen yonder, our local laundromat used an outdoor wood boiler for the water for laundry and heating the building. I’ve wanted my own ever since.

          • So I’m researching this wood stove/boiler situation. We have propane heat/dryer/stove in WI-spend roughly $700/year for propane; 2 adults; keep it cool in winter (no more than 69 degrees on sub zero days; 60-63 at night)…not sure if I can cost justify a new heating element?
            Would love insight from you experienced folks!

            • If you expect that price to maintain or you expect you have financial means to keep pace with price increases, then it may not be (financially) feasible to put in a boiler.

              As for me, I spend too much of my time outside in the elements during the winter. I like coming in the door to a 78 deg.F house. I like taking a hot shower for 20 minutes and not worry about running out of hot water. I get out of the shower, towel off and can lounge around in a t-shirt and shorts with wet hair and smile. If I want it warmer I turn the thermostat clockwise and never wonder about the power/lap/NG bills. It doesn’t matter how hard I tax my boiler, my energy cost of use is constant. 6 full cord/winter. I harvest my own timber so I have only my time, fuel and equipment maintenance as cost considerations.

              The boiler is dependent upon constant uninterrupted electricity to power the 1/4 hp circulation pump and digital monitor. I have mine backed up with a 3 cell 12v battery bank that is charged with an Ames shore power charge controller. That is backed up with a 5k watt solar array. That is backed up with a 15k watt winco pto generator. I’ve built this system of overlapping layers and multifunctional components over years. I’d hate to have to build all my systems today. But, it can be done.

              I load my boiler once/day for a full 24 hour burn. Don’t matter if it’s -20F for a week. Once/day. That’s it. For me, the cost was justified by being 100% self reliant for my home heating.

              • Gotcha on all that! It makes sense for you thank you! The wet hair after a shower scenario, I agree. 🙂 I’ll be honest, the propane increase has been so slight (if any) we haven’t noticed. It’s talking the hubby into a stove & not a fireplace for ‘ambiance’.

        • Ahhhh, that must be what a lot of neighbors have out here in the country then (sorry, we’re implants about 15 years ago-learning as we go). We’ve wondered how well those work just haven’t met anyone with one. Thank you all.

      • I’ve had major lung surgery and our Vermont Castings wood stove doesn’t bother me at all I’m so sensitive that sauteing jalapenos sends me into a coughing fit). In previous house, we had both a fireplace and a stove; fireplaces put out very little heat. I highly recommend a well-made stove. When we went to the stove store, I had intended to get a cheap one and I’m very, very glad we got Vermont Castings (which aren’t cheap).

        • Second Vermont Castings wood stoves.
          Just had a second fire (curing/breaking in period the user manual instructs) in ours.
          They light faster, little to no smoke when loading (follow the user manual), and I still had a bed of coals this morning at 0800.

  • My in-laws are retired farmers who rent out 1200 acres annually under tillage. Cleaning up winter blow downs that block Spring plowing are a normal early Spring duty. My buddiescand I do that snd other duties as rentbon the home acres for our RVs. We have 9 cords on the property split, all new bucked up wood goes home with those guy to age and burn or sell, as a perk. A cord of hardwood goes for 180, unseasoned for 150, mixed for 125. We just dropped four dead decorative pines last weekend and bucked them up for the bonfire pit. Havent seen a shortagef here, just inflation. Lots of that.

  • No shortages here that I’ve heard of. I have wood coming from my supplier this coming week and the price is the same as last year. We have an abundance of beetle killed trees around here so as long as they can run their trucks I think we’re good.

  • In Germany the people use to be able to pay a fee to be allowed to collect the fallen wood in the forest. Then the environmentalist got it passed so no one can collect the wood in the forest. We have family in Germany. My uncle has a wood burning stove, which he uses to heat his house in Denmark in the winter. Prices have gone through the roof in Europe.

    I have cedar and mesquite on my property. They are not very big out here. We normally buy our cord of wood and haul it out here. Since I don’t have a central heater, I need the wood. After the freeze a year ago all the cords of wood has risen more than double in price. A cord is running about $450 right now. I only need one cord to get through the winter out here in west Texas.

  • Over here in UK,we are having averages of 8 weeks waiting time for wood delivery. Fortunately,I don’t buy it – I collect my own from all over the place ,all year,and process it myself. Right now I have three Winters – worth. Folks are having to wait,because a lot of the time,they leave it until last minute ,like everything else!

    It’s also reckoned that coal will be short by the end of Winter too,and into next. Reason being that Germany is grabbing as much as it can. I burn smokeless coal as well as wood,and I have enough for this Winter,and will get more ready for next year too.

    To me, solid fuel burning is more than just a way of heating,it is a lifestyle.

  • Not all firewood heats equal either. And the various infestations have some areas watching like hawks to ensure wood is *not* brought in (Emerald Ash borer for example). Buying sight unseen may result in purchasers paying for hardwood but not getting a full cord/face cord of it.
    We only cut up downed trees on our acreage, most of our wood comes from others. We cut, haul, split but ensures our supply.

  • The problem with firewood is it has a habit of disappearing at nighttime while you sleep if it’s not stored in a secured structure.

  • Oak wilt is slowly killing off our red oaks, at least a dozen mature trees dead in the past few years. I leave them standing as we have enough cut wood for now, and the dead trees won’t rot as fast as laying on the ground. OTOH, overhead branches are a hazard. There are several large widow makers also, I stay clear of them and let them fall on their own.

  • I think that even folks without a fireplace or woodstove should have some firewood handy in the event the grid goes down. Also, furniture/painted wood items are toxic to burn and might be harmful to cook with, even more so breathing the smoke. As Jimbo mentioned, CL is a great way to get salvage firewood for free. And, if you don’t know how to fell a tree, do some research before you give it a go-safety is a major concern. And as Jim mentioned, a helmet is always a great idea. And if you are new to this, do a little research on chainsaw maintenance, how to sharpen a chain and get proper equipment. I even emailed my favorite chainsaw maker a while back suggesting that they put together kits for newbies and market them as “ups and overs” at the retail level to help folks get off on a good foot-especially when you look at the chainsaw-accessories sets at most stores-they seem to be the least attended to schematics in the store. Lastly, if you don’t have a wood stove, think about how easy it’d be to stash a used one in your garage along with suitable stove pipe, and when the grid goes down, throw it all up-or if its legal in your HOA or whatever, do it now and save yourself the trouble later. If nothing else, have a method to cook outdoors (fire ring and some grating of some kind would be a minimum). We have heated our home with a woodstove for years and live on acreage/forest sufficient to “stay in business”, and we can cook on the flat top of our woodstove if need be, so grid down will mean a minimum of difficulties. Folks in the ‘burbs with little-to-no resources mightcould have some troubles.

  • Natural gas and propane compete with wood for home heating. NG is up substantially, hence putting pressure on alternative sources of fuel. NG is convenient, set the thermostat and forget it. Wood is often free, other than your time collecting, hauling and stacking it. As more people get squeezed by rising prices they will have no choice but to burn wood, the least expensive fuel. When another million people go to wood, wood will become scarce. If you need wood look to an industrial process that uses wood and has wood waste. Pallet manufactures often produce a rolloff of scrap a week. Ask if the rolloff can be dumped at your house, maybe 8 cords equivalent. One more tip, get your wood in June, July and August when most people consider wood trash, less competition as the masses don’t properly prepare.

  • HERE IN COLORADO THE ONLY MINES THAT ARE STILL OPEN,are the ones controled by the demonrats,AND ALL THE COAL IS BEING SHIPPED TO CHINA,we can’t get any,we’re not chinese and don’t live in china..AND the price of firewood is sky high because of the mines are all closed to americans.its firewood OR NOTHING,all you pieces of garbarge who LOVE THE POLICE AND MILITARY who are protecting these devils,HERES MY MIDDLE FINGER TO YOU,YOUR GOING TO REGRET YOUR TREASON….

  • I live in south Georgia, 30 miles north of Tallahassee. We have so much wood here its ridiculous. It’s good to live in the south !! 😁

  • “Oak firewood for sale. 1 cord for 500 or 2 for 800 early season deal.”
    I went for the 4 cords for $1400 deal. Dry, split, delivered.
    $500 a cord sounds like the Fall/ Winter 2022 price. Last Fall/Winter it was $400.
    Sounds like due to bug kill, the National Forest isn’t issuing permits for oak, only pine. And only downed pine, no felling Snags.
    The beetle is throughout Southern Cali., but the powers that be don’t want it transported, so wood dealers are going to private properties, with permission.

    🤔 You know I’m reading about helmets…. 🧐 but no mention of eye protection, ear protection, gloves, appropriate foot wear, chaps, long sleeved shirts.
    😜

  • There is no shortage of wood in America, unless you live in the desert or big city. However, if you live in commiefornia, or the like, there are probably laws trying to keep you from getting it.

    Just look at the photos of Germany, Switzerland and Scandanavia. They have plenty of wood but they have bad laws and bad bureaucrats, who want people to stay home in cold, dark houses eating bugs. They really do.

    If the lawmakers had any human compassion at all – and I doubt they do – they’d hire crews to cut the dead wood in the forests and allow people to pick it up off of the ground.

    We’ve only bought wood a few times over the last 20 years. Maybe only a rick or two. We have dead wood on our acreage and have friends who let us have theirs.

    Also, we drive along the country roads and pick up dead wood nearly every year. Aside from a couple of small electric heaters in the back bedrooms, we use wood to heat our house. True, most winters in our part of Texas aren’t really cold for very long, but I prefer wood heat for many reasons.

    • @Carla

      No problems getting wood in California at least not in northern California. Might want to check your facts before you start bad mouthing areas

      • You’re allowed to get dead wood from the forests?

        And if you don’t think your commie governor won’t try to stop wood burning, think again. How’s that electric car working out for you?

      • Poorman, I can’t see how to delete or edit my comment to you. I should’ve been clearer in my original comment and not caustic in my reply. I apologize.

        I was trying to make the point that California is quickly trying to control how any energy is used. And I expect that the governor will continue to encroach on your rights.

        • @Carla
          No offence taken. And yes we can go cut dead wood. Most of the forest is National Forest and as far as I know the state has no control. We just go to forest service and get tags just like is done for hunting. Northern Cal is a whole state different than the rest of the liberal people. Google state of Jefferson. Your real fear should be if Newsom runs for President.

          • Newsom? Wow, that is a scary thought. The information I had about collecting the dead wood was old. Thanks for the update.

  • 50 years ago or so they stopped the forester service from doing their job; clearing out dead wood, controlled burns. So we’ve had 50 years of kindling building up that’s helped these massive fires destroy our country. We should issue permits so people can legally gather dead wood from our national forest. I’ve seen a lot in our state parks. But that would help us and stop adding fuel to these massive fires, they couldn’t have that.

  • I bought a 25 Ton Wood spliter this year. Works great on new wood. Had 2x 85 ft tall Oak trees cut down, I am in FL, so we have mild winters for only a few months from Dec to Feb. My last year heat bill was only about $10 Ten dollars, used propane heater in a Tiny house 100% all Off the Grid, Using Solar for Power. I am going to advertise wood splitting for hire. Lots of people have wood cut but not split for a wood stove or fireplace. May hook up with a tree company and follow behind them after they do their work on site. Opportunities are out there folks to make money, get busy.

  • Look into rocket mass heaters. They use 10% of the wood,burning smaller pieces hot and fast. Mass is used to absorb heat and burn the creosote. By the time it exits the building, only a bit of steam is visible and there isn’t any smoke smell. Wheaton labs In Montana has been perfecting the design for years. Check out the YouTube channel or go to rich soil.com

  • The forest service is busy burning out the easy firewood gathering places near to town-so it will be a longer haul to town and a much higher price. This is their way of managing the Salmon National Forest. No one thinks ahead!

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