A pile of heat-treated firewood awaits purchase.
Heat-treated Firewood Using heat-treated firewood prevents the spread of foreign pests and other threats to our forests. ©: The Nature Conservancy

Stories in Tennessee

Pest-Free Firewood

Learn more about using and producing heat-treated firewood to protect Tennessee's forests.

Tree-killing insects and diseases are becoming an increasing problem in Tennessee and all over the United States. These insects and diseases can't move far on their own, but when people move firewood these pests can move with it, jumping hundreds of miles. New infestations destroy forests, reduce property values, and cost huge sums of money to control.

Some of Tennessee's most majestic forests, including those in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, are at risk! You can help in two big ways: 

  • #1 - Don't bring firewood from home when camping. Instead, buy certified, heat-treated, or locally sourced firewood.
  • #2 - Learn about creating a business to heat-treat firewood using a firewood kiln.

The Nature Conservancy is working hard to control the spread and impact of these tree-killing pests. Preventing the transportation of firewood is a major way that all of us can help protect our trees. 

Step One: Make the Switch to Heat-Treated Firewood

TNC is making it easier for campers to purchase heat-treated firewood in and around national parks across the state. We're also working with other park managers throughout Tennessee to improve their firewood practices. People like you can play a pivotal role in the conservation of our beautiful parks and forests by adopting safe firewood practices.

Stores around Tennessee sell heat-treated firewood. The Firewood Scout website is a reliable tool for finding certified vendors for heat-treated firewood in Tennessee and additional states in our area such as North Carolina. 

Step Two: Learn How to Produce Heat-Treated Firewood Using a Kiln

An alliance of state, federal and non-governmental partners have announced a new public opportunity for learning how to develop a business to heat-treat firewood in kilns. Heat treatment kills insects by heating firewood to a certain core temperature and for a certain amount of time. Heat treatment takes place in a kiln, which can control the temperature and the amount of time that heat is applied depending on what type of pest insect you are trying to kill.

According to the USDA, obtaining firewood kiln certification requires the following steps:

  • Contact the local USDA office. 
  • Complete pre-work, a work plan and a diagram of the facility. 
  • Conduct a dry run: 140°F for 60 minutes. 
  • Make an appointment with USDA for testing. 
  • Drill holes in firewood that are six inches deep with a 3/16-inch drill bit.
  • Paint the ends of these firewood pieces. 
  • Sign the USDA compliance agreement. 
  • An officer inserts firewood sensors and runs the kiln for a set amount of time. 
  • An officer removes firewood sensors, downloads data and runs a report. 
  • An officer issues an electronic stamp. 
Wood is piled up inside of a small metal space.
Firewood Kiln An inside view of a firewood kiln. © Cheryl Ruehling

Learn More

Contact The Nature Conservancy to learn about occasional workshops on how to run a firewood kiln business. During the workshop, the group will learn about:

  • Pests that travel in firewood and the risk to forests and trees,
  • Federal and state regulations, as well as campground rules, for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Tennessee State Parks.
  • Preparing firewood and using the tools to measure the wood for moisture content.
  • Success stories from people who have built their own business.
  • Other firewood activities going on in and around Tennessee.

Additional Resources

Stand Up For Nature