There are lots of questions about firewood, now that winter is officially here and in full swing. Here are answers to some of those questions:
What kinds of cords are available?
A full cord of wood is classified as four feet by four feet by eight feet. When buying wood you need to know, is this a full cord, fireplace cord, stove cord (four feet by eight feet by 32 feet or 2/3 of a full cord) or face cord (four feet by eight feet by 16 feet or 1/3 of a full cord).
Firewood is not offered for sale in the form of its official unit measurement (a cord or 128 cubic feet -4 by 4 by 8), which is why buying firewood can be confusing. A full cord of wood is classified as four feet by four feet by eight feet.
When buying wood you need to know, is this a full cord: a fireplace cord, stove cord or face cord? A stove or face cord means the pieces have been trimmed to less than 16 inches and you would need to do the matehmatical caluclation to see how much of the full cord or 128 cubic feet you are truely purchasing.
Example: A face cord marked at $75 sounds like a great deal and you order 1 cord only to be charged $225 at delivery time, 48 (4 feet by 8 feet) with an avergae legth piece of 16 inches is 48/16=3*$75. If you had ordered that face cord or 1/3 of a cord of wood but asked for a cord’s worth, $225 is in fact the correct price.
It’s very important to understand the length of wood, type of wood and amount of wood (cubic feet) that you will be left with when the wood delivery man leaves. A stove cord with 12 inch pieces marked at $60 in a one cord scenario would work out as follows 48/12=4*$60 or $240 per cord.
How is the wood defined? What does seasoned mean? What is hardwood?
This is often where people feel a shell game is occurring and this is how unscrupulous businesses and individuals make their money.
Wood meant to be burned in fireplace inserts, wood burning stoves and brick and mortar home fireplaces is seasoned, mixed hardwood pre-cut into the appropriate lengths for your specific use.
Seasoned wood is defined as wood that has been cut, stacked and stored covered for no shorter than four months. Mixed hard woods are defined as oak, cherry, walnut and birch and have longer burn times than soft woods such as ash, pine and cedar.
What makes one cord of wood $170 and another $855?
A cord of wood is considered to be seasoned once it has been cut, stacked and stored for four months. Nowhere is it defined what the quality of the wood or the moisture content of the wood.
To create wood that can be used for a fire, each piece is touched no less than eight times: Cut the tree into logs, cut the logs into appropriate lengths, split the wood, stack the wood at the site, load the wood into the truck, unload the wood, re-stack the wood, carry it inside and consume it.
Consider a person who has picked up storm debris, cut it at home with a chain saw, rented a wood splitter and cut up wood and left it in their yard exposed to the elements for four months.
That is going to have a lower cost than the arborist who only chose healthy insect-free wood, cut it into the correct size, stacked and stored the wood covered either outside or in a warehouse, selected only disease-free hardwood and has guaranteed a moisture content of 10 to 15 percent, which is able to light and become fuel immediately.
Less creosote is generated with quality wood which translates to less chimney problems, less chimney maintenance and less risk of chimney fire.
Are there any laws surrounding wood for fireplaces?
Wood that comes from trees in New Haven County may not be sold or transported to any other country. If a tree is cut down in Milford, it can not be sold as firewood, transported to or disposed of in Stratford, even though they are neighboring towns.
The Emerald Ash borer is considered an invasive pest, which has been known to devastate entire towns and it exists in Connecticut, specifically New Haven County. Worcester, Mass., had 75 acres of trees cut down by the DEEP once the trees there became infected. It is your responsibility to know the source of the wood.
What other things should I know about wood?
Wood used to heat a home or space is not the same wood that should be used for cooking. Cooking woods for use in restaurants, pizza ovens and home cooking equipment is typically only oak, cherry, hickory or apple wood. They are cleaned through a tumbler and cut into micro sizes to fit the specific piece of equipment that is being feed the wood.
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Stacy Skoldberg is managing partner of GreenSprays an organic lawn care and tree company. She can be followed on Twitter at greenspraysllc, on Facebook or reached at 203-916-3666 firstname.lastname@example.org.