A Guide To Good Firewood


Here are a few important things to consider if you are planning to heat your home with a wood stove.

Measure Firewood

Firewood is typically measured and sold by the cord, which is defined as 128 cubic feet of tightly stacked wood. A cord may be a 4’ x 4’ x 8’ pile or anything that adds up to 128 cubic feet. Many states require that firewood sellers indicate the amount by multiples or fractions of a cord. It is a good idea to measure the wood while it is still on the truck to determine whether you are getting an honest cord.

Other commonly used but imprecise units of measurement include rick, face cord and truckload. Some states prohibit sale of firewood using these terms.

Firewood Preparation

The most important thing is that your wood be “seasoned,” or dried to a moisture content below twenty percent. The drier the wood, the easier it ignites and the cleaner it burns.

Spring or summer is the best time to get your firewood in for winter. After you buy or gather your wood, you should split it and stack it under cover to allow it to air dry.

Firewood cut from fresh trees or trees recently infested by insects and disease can contribute to the spread of pests to nearby healthy trees. Store it away from your house to prevent intrusion by insects or mice. Many communities have ordinances to guide you in storing your firewood.

Some wood may take over a year to dry. Dry, seasoned wood is cracked at the ends, is generally of a grayer color than fresh wood, and is much lighter in weight.

It’s a good idea to stockpile enough wood so that you’re a year ahead, putting up wood not for the upcoming winter but for the following year. Supplies in some areas can be sporadic due to weather conditions, fire danger, or wood-cutting restrictions.

Your Chimney Sweep

Your chimney sweep is a good source of information about the firewood available in your area, and is ready to help you enjoy your winter fires. Again, preparation is the key. Your chimney sweep may be extremely busy throughout the autumn and winter months, so plan ahead and schedule an appointment in the spring or summer.

Reprinted, with permission, from the September 2007 issue of THE CIMNEY SWEEP NEWS, an independent trade magazine for chimney service professionals. Jim Gillam, editor/publisher. 541-882-5196. www.ChimneySweepNews.com