It doesn’t matter whether you burn a fire a few nights during the holiday season
or enjoy one every night, the wrong wood can ruin your experience.
1. How to buy it.
A cord of wood is 8 feet long by 4 feet high by 4 feet tall or 128 cubic feet. A rack
of wood is generally 8 feet long by 4 feet tall by 18 to 24 inch pieces of wood for a
cord. The costs vary depending on the time of year, if the wood is dumped on
the driveway or stacked in the backyard for you. Ask around for a reputable
source for your wood.
2. Well seasoned is best.
The wood you buy should be at least 6 months old with a moisture content of 15-
25%. Too wet and it won’t light, too dry and it burns too quickly. Inexpensive
moisture meters are available online and at home improvement stores to check
the moisture content yourself. Buying from a reputable source that has come
highly recommended may be easier on the front end, but knowledge is power,
sometimes it needs to be checked.
3. How to Have Seasoned Firewood Every Year.
There is a simple solution to this problem that many of my customers have
learned. They have learned how to get seasoned firewood every year regardless
of what a wood cutter brings them. Many actually prefer to buy green firewood
since it often makes better quality wood and usually costs less to buy. Green
firewood is usually cleaner, has less decay, insects, mold and other types of
The key they have discovered is to buy it a year ahead of the time when they plan
to burn it. Now in the fall or earlier in the summer they buy green wood when
everyone else is trying to find dry wood. They are not buying it for this winter, but
for the following winter. This way it has a full year to season and dry.
You may be having a hard time finding dry wood for this winter, but you can
ensure you will not have that problem next year if you buy green wood this fall.
That may not help you out this year but once you get in the habit of buying your
firewood a year in advance, you will no longer have to worry about whether or
not your winter supply of firewood will be dry or not.
4. Hardwood vs. softwood.
Hardwood or softwood doesn’t necessarily relate to the hardness or softness of
the wood. Most hardwoods do tend to be harder than most softwood but with
some species that’s not always the case. Some hardwoods such as aspen
cottonwood and alder are softer than some softwood. Balsa wood is well known
for being a very soft and light but technically it is actually a hardwood. Whether a
type of wood is a hardwood or softwood has more to do with the way the wood
fibers are structured more than its actual hardness.
Hardwood comes from deciduous trees such as oak, tanoak, madrone, myrtle,
hickory, elm and maple. Hardwood is usually denser, burns longer and produces
more heat than softwood. Hardwood tends to produce more coals when it burns
which produce more radiant heat over a long period of time. This makes
hardwoods ideal for wood stoves when you want it to produce a steady heat over
a long period of time. This can also be good when using firewood for cooking.
Softwood comes from conifers such as fir, pine, cedar, and redwood. Softwood is
usually less dense and more resinous, burns faster and produces less heat than
hardwood. Softwood is good for starting fires and making kindling. Softwood
produces more flames and sometimes more intense heat than hardwood but over
a shorter period of time. Softwood is good for starting fires or in a fireplace where
you want a crackling fire with nice flames. Softwood is also nice for a campfire for
the flames but throw some hardwood in to make a nice bed of coals for roasting
hot dogs and marshmallows.
5. Where to put it.
You should store your wood off the ground (it can absorb rain from the ground)
and away from your house (termites). There are racks for sale online or at some
home improvement centers that are satisfactory. The other issue is to keep it dry
and protected from the elements; blue or green tarps will do the trick but they
can be an eyesore. Camouflage tarps blend in better but may not be your cup of
tea. Maybe build your own shelter out of lumber a few shingles? There is no