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Firewood Measurement

Purchasing firewood? Make sure you don't get burned!

Firewood is sold by volume. Generally, it is sold by the cord or the cubic metre or foot. A cord is equal to a pile of neatly stacked logs 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by four feet tall or 128 ft3. Each of these is a valid method for measuring firewood. Firewood should be stacked neatly with all logs running in the same direction before being measured. The air space between the logs should be eliminated as much as possible by neat stacking. Obviously, the accuracy of any measurement of a commodity such as irewood will have a relatively large uncertainty. The intent is to reduce this uncertainty as much as possible to ensure that you "get what you pay for".

Some dealers will try and sell you firewood measured by the face cord, stove cord, apartment cord or by the truck load, etc. Each of these non-standard units will almost certainly mean that you are getting less wood than you should be. The truck load is commonly quoted in many firewood advertisements but can mean many different things to different people. You should avoid these dealers if you want to receive the proper amount of firewood. If you purchase a truck load of firewood, you will have no recourse if the amount you received is less than the amount you expected. It is nearly impossible to deliver a full cord of firewood in the back of a pickup truck unless the sides have been raised. Demand that your supplier give you a receipt with the volume clearly indicated in cords or cubic metres/feet. Have the firewood stacked and measure it immediately if you suspect you did not receive the proper amount. If possible, measure it in the presence of the supplier, or simply refuse to take delivery.

Also very important is the type of wood and how well dried it is. Common woods will vary from region to region so if you are not sure of what you want, ask around to see which woods are best for use in your fireplace. In any case, unless you are prepared to dry it yourself, you are going to want wood which has been dried (seasoned) for at least one year. Hardwoods should be seasoned for two or more years. Green wood is difficult to light, does not burn well, smokes and smoulders and produces less heat and more creosote in your chimney than dry wood does.

Want to check your measurements? Use our handy Firewood Cord Calculator

Last modified: 24 January 2010 22:14:27