In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about buying and storing firewood so you can get your fire started.
- 1 What is firewood?
- 2 What type of firewood is best?
- 3 Buying firewood
- 4 How many pieces of wood in a cord?
- 5 How long does a cord of wood last?
- 6 Where is firewood in stores like Walmart and Home Depot?
- 7 Can I order firewood online from Amazon?
- 8 Where should I store firewood?
- 9 Conclusion
What is firewood?
In the simplest terms, firewood is any wood that you can burn as fuel. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Many people think enjoying a wood fire at home or while they’re camping is as easy as, well, falling off a log. But there are definitely some things you should know if you’re new to buying firewood.
One common misconception is that you can throw just about anything onto a fire and it will burn. The truth is, wood doesn’t burn well unless it’s dried and stored properly. And throwing just anything onto a fire can be inefficient at best, and even toxic at worst.
First off, in addition to knowing which types of wood are the best to use, it’s also important to know what you should avoid. So I’ll start by talking about some of the things you should never throw onto a fire.
What not to burn
People are often tempted to throw scrap lumber, bits of pressure-treated wood or painted wood onto a fire. Some of these things might burn well, but scrap wood can often be treated with arsenic or have a layer of lead-based paint or other chemicals on it that can release toxins into the air as it burns. So avoid throwing scrap wood onto outdoor fires, and never burn it in your home.
The second thing you should avoid throwing onto your fire is anything that’s wet. Avoid fresh cut wood, especially if you are burning it indoors. Fresh wood contains a lot of sap and moisture, and burning it will produce a huge amount of smoke. Fresh wood also burns inefficiently, which is why drying firewood is so important.
Even driftwood is a bad idea since it has been shown that the salt content makes driftwood carcinogenic when burned. Burning salt-laden wood releases dioxins and furans, so it’s best to avoid using it.
Finally, you should avoid throwing oversized logs onto your fire. Anything more than around five inches in diameter isn’t going to burn well or efficiently. Don’t get lazy with your logs – make sure your wood is cut properly.
What type of firewood is best?
So what can you burn? With firewood, your main options are softwood or hardwood.
Contrary to their names, the differences between these woods aren’t always due to their hardness and durability. You can, for instance, find some softwoods that are harder and more durable than hardwoods. What’s important is their the density, and that’s what these terms are used to describe.
Denser hardwoods burn for longer, produce less soot and ash, and can generate more heat. The composition of hardwoods makes them ideal for long-lasting fires that will continue to burn for some time. This means hardwood is good for cooking and home heating. The downsides to using hardwood are that it’s harder to split and it’s sometimes harder to get it to start burning.
The most popular hardwood options you’ll find are oak, birch, and ash. All of them are great options, with oak generally being the cheapest. Oak burns for a long time, while birch and ash are great for producing steady flames with a consistent amount of heat. Birch dries quickly once it’s split and it’s easy to start; however, it also burns fairly quickly. Ash also splits well, and it burns cleanly and provides a good amount of heat.
Softwood has its place as firewood, but it’s usually better for outdoor use. Softwoods tend to emit more smoke than hardwoods, which can be difficult to control indoors.
One positive aspect of softwoods is that they ignite faster, so it can be easier to get a fire going in more challenging conditions using softwood. Softwood also burns quickly, making it ideal for those who prefer shorter fires for outdoor cooking and camping.
Cedar, pine, and larch are all great softwoods that you can easily find at affordable prices. Larch is great because it’s very hard and can perform like a hardwood, giving you the best of both worlds. Cedar and pine are very easy to ignite, but these woods should only be used outdoors.
Wood Bricks and Pellets
Aside from natural woods, there are other options. These are manufactured firewoods that can be used to create long-lasting flames. These products are also extremely easy to use.
Wood bricks, made from wood chips and sawdust compressed into a brick or log shape, are one choice. Wood bricks start easily and burn very efficiently and cleanly, making them a great option for fireplaces. You’ll lose the natural feel of a regular wood fire, but these products make up for it by being extremely easy to use. If you’re looking for something a little different, you’ll also find compressed logs with scents added, and logs that produce flames in many different colors.
Wood pellets, which are created in a similar way to wood bricks, are another choice. These, however, only really work well when burned in a pellet stove, so if you want to explore this option, you’ll probably need to purchase a stove as well. Pellet stoves, which come with an electric fan to provide a consistent flow of air to the fire, burn pellets very efficiently. This makes wood pellets a great option for home heating.
How much do you need?
The first question you need to ask yourself is how much firewood you need. This will determine where you should look for firewood. If you’re not planning on buying large quantities of wood, you’ll have more options; even your regular grocery store may offer bundles of wood suitable for a small fire.
Larger amounts of wood are sold by volume, which is measured in cords. A cord is the quantity of wood that fits in an area 4’ x 4’ x 8’, or 128 cubit feet. If you are looking for cords of wood then you’ll need to find a firewood specialist in your area. There are usually plenty of companies that will deliver dried, split wood straight to your home, making the process as simple as possible.
Wood can also be purchased smaller amounts. Another term you may see when you’re buying firewood is a face cord. This is roughly a third of a full cord (42.6 cubic feet), or enough to fill a space 8′ by 4′ by 16″.
Half cords, quarter cords and even eighth cords are also possible. Like anything else, firewood is almost always a better deal if you buy it in larger quantities.
Who delivers firewood near me?
If you need a local dealer, there are plenty of ways to find one. A brilliant resource for the United States is http://www.firewoodscout.org/, where you can enter your zip code and to locate the nearest firewood dealer.
For smaller amounts, you can even arrange firewood deliveries from Amazon or other major retailers. If you don’t need a large quantity of firewood, you can simply drive up to the nearest retail store that stocks firewood and put it in the back of your vehicle.
Farther from centers with large retail stores, you can also find many local shops that sell smaller quantities of firewood. It’s a good idea to check local listings or ask around since this might be the most convenient solution, especially in rural areas.
How much does a cord of wood cost?
The price of a cord of wood will depend on the type of wood that you are getting. Some types will be more plentiful in your area, and costs can vary. Therefore it’s good to work out the type of wood that matches your needs and your budget.
Oak is often the cheapest cord that you’ll be able to get since it’s usually quite plentiful. In many areas, you can get a cord of oak for around $100 to 130, depending on the seller. It burns well, making it very popular for firewood.
Birch and ash are also great woods, and they will run you around $175 to $200 per cord. These woods aren’t as plentiful as oak, hence the higher price tag, and they burn in a different way.
Softwoods like pine and larch are often around $150-$160 in price. These burn fast and are easy to light. They’re great to use outdoors and make perfect fire starters if you want a mix of woods.
Cedar is one of the most expensive softwoods you can buy, and it can run you $220 per cord and up. The higher price tag is partly due to it being a very nice wood to burn. The flame burns for a long time and does so with a pleasant cracking sound. It also gives off a nice aroma.
There are other types of firewood available, but these are the most common options. The cheapest cords will come in at a little over $100 while the most expensive options may be well over $200. The choice depends on where you’ll be burning the wood and which features you’re looking for.
How many pieces of wood in a cord?
A cord is a unit of measurement specifically used for firewood. It describes a large rectangle that measures 8 feet long with a width and height of 4 feet.
Because a cord of wood is measured in terms of the volume of a stack of wood, it also includes the airspace between the pieces. Therefore, the exact number of pieces of firewood can change from one cord to the next. However, it’s fairly easy to get a reasonable estimate. When cut to a length of 16” and a width of 4”, which is more or less standard, you’ll get between 600 and 700 pieces of wood per cord.
This can change from one seller to the next, but because firewood is sold by volume, you always know you’ll be getting a very similar amount of wood.
How long does a cord of wood last?
If you are moving into a wood-heated house, the previous owner should be able to give you an estimate of how many cords of wood you’ll need to get through the winter. If you’re installing a wood stove or a wood-burning furnace for the first time, estimating can get a little tricky. You can check with neighbors in your area who heat with wood since they’re dealing with the same climate conditions.
It’s always a good idea to get more wood than you think you’ll need. The wood you don’t burn this year will be the start of your supply for the next year.
As mentioned previously, hardwood is denser than softwood, so there’s a good chance a cord of hardwood will last a lot longer than a cord of softwood. If you want the longest-lasting cord, then it’s a good idea to go with hardwood.
How long a cord of firewood will last is difficult to judge because it depends on a variety of factors: how often you are burning wood, how long you let your fires burn, the size of the space you’re heating, how hot you want your fire and what type of wood you use. If you’re heating a small house, a cord should be sufficient for around four months. For bigger homes, or older houses with poor insulation, you’ll probably go through a cord more quickly. For some larger houses, a cord may only last a couple of weeks.
If you have space to do it, it’s a good idea to store a few more cords than you think you’ll actually need. Once you’ve gone through a winter, you’ll have a better idea of your needs for future years.
Where is firewood in stores like Walmart and Home Depot?
If you don’t need anywhere near a cord or wood, getting store-bought firewood can be a good option. Major retailers like Walmart and Home Depot usually store bundles of logs to suit smaller domestic needs.
The firewood sections of these stores also offer options such as manufactured logs and fire starters. These can be great for more limited needs, but they’re generally much more expensive when compared to locally purchased firewood.
Can I order firewood online from Amazon?
There are plenty of options for buying firewood on Amazon, but it comes in much smaller quantities than you can find elsewhere. If you’re not planning on needing anywhere near a full cord, buying wood in smaller quantities may make sense for you.
There are many great options on Amazon, including traditional kiln-dried logs and manufactured logs. You won’t be able to get the type of quantities you’ll need to heat your entire home for the winter, but you will be able to order enough to handle the occasional cookout fire.
Where should I store firewood?
Moist wood burns ineffectively and it’s very hard to light. This means you need to ensue your wood is properly stored when you receive it since you won’t want to wait around for your logs to dry again if they get rained on.
If you’re planning on purchasing firewood, you’ll need to scout for a suitable location near your home to set up storage racks. You can build racks yourself or buy commercially-made ones online or at your local hardware store. There are also traditional (and quite beautiful) stacking methods that resemble giant beehives or other shapes, if having an aesthetically appealing woodpile is important to you.
The three key things to remember in terms of firewood storage are that the wood should be covered, it should be stored off the ground, and there should be a good air flow through the stacks.
Storing firewood inside your home for long periods isn’t recommended, as critters such as termites and carpenter ants might be living in the wood. Keeping the wood in a well-ventilated shed is a more effective solution.
The most critical factor in storing firewood is keeping the logs dry. Stacking the wood and covering the stacks with tarps is usually the quickest and lowest-cost solution. Keeping the wood off the ground will prevent moisture from soaking into the firewood from below.
Whether your wood burning needs are large or small, there are plenty of great places you can find firewood.
If you’re buying wood to heat your home, make sure you purchase enough to last through the winter and that you store it in a dry environment until you’re ready to use it.
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