How To Buy Good Firewood For Less!

how to choose firewood

More and more families are discovering the advantages of firewood to heat their home. Unfortunately, when you first buy firewood there’s a few things you need to know to always get the best deal.

Where To Buy Firewood

It is not hard to find firewood for sale. One can buy wood at a wide variety of places. Supermarkets, gas stations, landscape companies, firewood dealers and even internet retail websites sell various types of firewood.

While most  firewood dealers are honest, there are some unscrupulous dealers who will cheat unsuspecting customers by inflating measurements and/or providing low quality wood.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when buying  firewood for a stove or fireplace. They will help you understand what type of woods should and should not be used, how firewood should be stored, and more.

Measuring Cords of Firewood

Firewood is measured in cords. A full cord should be four feet deep, four feet high and eight feet wide. It is also possible to buy a half cord of firewood, which would be two feet deep, eight feet wide and four feet high.

Measuring FirewoodThere is also a measurement known as a face cord. A face cord is not the same as a full cord of wood. A face cord is sixteen inches deep, eight feet wide and four feet high. Three face cords make up a full cord.

Never buy wood from a firewood dealer who claims that two face cords make up a full cord. This is not true and is a common tactic used by unscrupulous dealers to cheat customers.

Firewood can be measured with a tape measure once it has been stacked. It is a good idea to have the firewood stacked by the delivery person to ensure that one has gotten all the wood that he or she has paid for.

Types Of Cuts

There are various ways to cut  firewood. If the wood is to be burned in a wood stove, it should be cut in pieces of twelve to eighteen inches. Wood that is meant to be burned in an average fireplace should be cut in pieces of twenty to twenty four inches.

However, when using a fireplace, one will also usually need small, medium sized and large pieces or logs of wood. Small strips of wood, such as slab wood, are a good buy, as they will enable a person to start a fire quickly and easily. Slab wood is cheap and can often be purchased from a saw mill.

Once the fire is going, one should avoid using slab wood as it contains a high level of bark and will clog up the chimney. A fire will burn well once the kindling has gotten going and one can add pieces or logs from one to two feet long. Such logs will take time to burn, giving off plenty of heat. Larger pieces also do not clog up the chimney as fast as smaller slab.

Types of Firewood

There are several different types of firewood often divided into the terms hardwood and softwood.  In terms of tree identification, have nothing to do with how hard the wood is.  A softwood tree is one that has needles while a hardwood has leaves.  Another way of describing trees are  deciduous and evergreen.

Poplar is called a soft hardwood because the wood is physically soft yet it comes from a deciduous ( broad leafed) tree.  Some types of wood burn better than others. Softwoods such as pine, aspen (technically a hardwood ~yet softer than pine)  and poplar create creosote in the chimney that will have to be cleaned out by a chimney sweep.  These woods are lighter in weight and will also burn faster than heavier hardwoods.

Hardwood v Softwood

Many people find these softwoods attractive as they are relatively cheap, especially when buying wood by weight.  However, when buying  firewood, the best buy is hardwood instead of soft wood.

Hardwood v SoftwoodSome good hardwoods to choose from are Pinion, Cedar and Oak. These types of wood are relatively common, so most dealers will have at least one of them.While hardwoods may cost a bit more than softwoods, they burn for longer and do not contain as much creosote.

However,  Please note that statistics indicate that more creosote is created from hardwoods than from softwoods, such as pine.  The main cause for creosote buildup is a “smoldering fire”.

A fire and chimney need to be hot so that all of the acids and combustible gases in the chimney and flue are ignited before they have a chance to harden and leave the creosote residue on the inside of a chimney.Be sure to ask your chosen dealer what type of wood he or she is offering before finalizing the purchase.

Firewood Humidity Levels

When buying firewood, it is important to make sure that the wood is not overly humid. Good wood should be dry. Moist wood is hard to burn and it will also cause the chimney to get clogged up faster.

Avoid wood that is sold wrapped in plastic, as it is moist and will not burn well. Ideally, it should be seasoned for at least six months and have a moisture content of twenty percent or even less. However, it is also possible to buy wood that has a moisture content of over twenty percent and let it dry out at home.

Many people save a lot of money by buying “green wood” a couple years in advance and then letting it dry out. Green wood, as the name implies, is wood that has just recently been cut down. It usually contains a humidity level of around thirty five percent.

Firewood Storage

Firewood storage is important. Many people simply pile the logs in the back yard. This is never a good idea. Firewood that is exposed to the elements will get wet, which is something that should be avoided at all costs.

On the other hand, it is usually not a good idea to store large quantities of wood inside the house. In some instances, termites and other small pests will invade your home and cause damage to wooden furnishings.

The best option is to invest in a metal firewood rack and store it outside on a porch. Metal racks come in varying sizes and can be purchased at a local brick and mortar store or via an online retailer. Good firewood should then be stacked in the rack and the top layer should be covered with a tarp to protect it from getting wet.

Knowledge is Power!

By learning about firewood, one will know which type of wood is the best buy. It is not hard to find, but not all dealers provide good value for money.

Take the time to find a reputable dealer that provides good hardwood that has been properly seasoned as it’s always worth the additional cost .

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