Some firewood tips

Dear Editor:

It is now firewood season. I am a firewood seller here in the valley going on 10 years. On most of my deliveries to new customers I hear the same thing – “Wow, that’s a lot more wood than the last guy brought.”

Unfortunately it is nothing new; there are numerous individuals trying to make money selling firewood who either don’t know much about wood or are intentionally ripping off customers. I have seen spruce sold as pine, willow sold as aspen, but most often two face cords being passed off as a full cord. A firewood buyer needs to be educated to avoid getting ripped off.

The term “face cord” does not represent any specific amount of wood; it can be anywhere from one-fourth of a cord to a full cord depending on the length of the pieces. If the pieces are cut as “standard” firewood, 16 inches, a face cord is one-third of a full cord. A full cord is 128 cubic feet of stacked wood, typically 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet; if the wood is not stacked it needs to be at least 160 cubic feet. The best way to buy wood to ensure that you get what you are paying for is to ask for the wood in fractions of a full cord.

A firewood buyer should also be aware that not all wood is the same; trees that have leaves almost always burn cleaner than trees that have needles. Aspen wood has more heat value than spruce, but less than pine, and all are less than oak. Apple is a great firewood, but other fruit trees have far less heat value. Wet wood will obviously not burn as well as dry wood; to be dry enough to use as firewood, the wood should be split at least early in the summer of the year it is to be used. Wood split from logs during the fall or winter will usually not be dry enough to use that season.

When storing wood, it is best not to wrap the entire pile in a tarp or plastic, the wood should be stacked with a foot or more space between the stacks, and the only the top of the stacks should be covered. It is also best to bring a day’s worth of wood indoors prior to use; that ensures that the little bit of moisture from rain or snow will evaporate off the surface of the wood and make lighting easy.

To further educate yourself about firewood, check online; there is a wealth of information out there.

Sam Chamber