All About Firewood
Firewood is typically sold by the cord, but there are several different kinds of cords, and knowing the difference can make sure you don't overpay for your firewood, as well as knowing how much you need an what kind you should look for.
How much wood is in a cord?
There are several different kinds of cords. Each are measured by how large a stack of wood is.
A full cord is a neat stack of wood that is 4 feet wide x 4 feet tall x 8 feet deep, totaling 128 cubic feet of wood.
A half cord is half of a full cord, so 4 feet x 4 feet x 4 feet, totaling 64 cubic feet of wood.
Sometimes a firewood dealer will sell wood by the face cord, which is 4 feet wide x 4 feet tall by 3 feet deep, which equals 48 cubic feet.
A full-size pickup (with an 8-foot bed) can typically carry less than a half a cord of wood, since the bed rails are less than 2 feet tall. A face cord will fill a normal 8-foot pickup bed. (Most full size pickup truck beds measure 8 feet long x 4 feet wide x 18 inches tall)
What kind of wood should I get?
To know what kind of wood you should get, you need to know the differences in the types of wood and why these differences are important.
Hardwoods are generally denser and burn longer than softer woods, while putting out more heat while burning, resulting in less wood used for a fire during a given length of time. For this reason, most people prefer hardwoods over softwoods.
Another important distinction in the type of wood you buy is whether it is seasoned or not. When a wood is green, or freshly cut, it is full of moisture and sap, both of which make the wood harder to light, create more creosote in your chimney, generate more smoke, and put out less heat since some of the heat is used to drive out excess moisture. It usually takes 6 -12 months to fully season wood, and you should keep your stacked firewood as dry as possible, either by storing it indoors or under a roof or a cover of some kind. It is not recommended to burn wood that isn't fully seasoned if you can help it. If you do burn unseasoned wood, keep in mind that creosote buildup is much more likely, and you will want to have your chimney inspected and cleaned more frequently.
Depending on your region and the season, you can expect to pay between $150-$400 per full cord of firewood.
The price for firewood will vary greatly from region to region, and form season to season. Wood prices are usually higher in winter, so if you can buy your wood early, you'll spend less for it and have some time for the wood to fully season before you need to use it.
Hard woods generally cost more than soft woods, and seasoned wood will typically cost more than unseasoned wood.
There are extras that can influence the price as well, such as having the dealer carry and stack your firewood, or getting split wood instead of logs. While these services may cost a little extra, getting your firewood stacked is the best way to know you're really getting the amount of wood you're paying for. Don't be afraid to pull out a tape measure to verify the amount you're getting. Getting wood that is pre-split will help the wood to season faster on top of definitely save you time since you won't need to split the wood yourself, not to mention the wear and tear on your back.