Tips for Choosing Firewood

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With energy prices high, many homeowners will turn to wood as an economical heating source this winter. Many will cut their own firewood while others must buy what they need. Look for three main things when buying firewood: whether the wood is dry, species of wood, and the quantity being sold for the price. Green wood makes a poor fuel. Splitting will speed drying time, and some species cure faster than others. Oak, while it makes an excellent fuel, dries slower than others. Look for cracks or checks in log ends, as a sign wood is seasoned.

Any wood species will make an acceptable fire, if it is dry, but some have more fuel value per piece, than others. Oak and hickory will last longer and produce more heat than pine. Pine and other lighter woods can be used for kindling and mixed with heavier wood for acceptable heating capabilities.

Firewood vendors sell wood in many different quantity variations. Ricks, racks, truckloads, face cords, bush cords and others. The only official measure is the cord-which is a stacked pile 4 feet high by 4 feet deep by 8 feet wide. Firewood cut into 16″ lengths stacked in 3 rows, is called a bush cord. Each row is called a face cord or rick. Firewood stacked neatly in the bed of a full sized pickup amounts to approximately half a cord.

Wood makes an excellent, economical and environmentally friendly fuel. As long as the species mix, degree of seasoning, and volume of the load are clearly understood by the buyer and seller, firewood benefits everyone.

axe on stump of tree and firewood in the background

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