The nights are growing colder as the leaves of the forest put on a final autumn show. If you haven't ordered or chopped your firewood yet, you're ready to order your first supply for the season.
Firewood is available from a variety of sources, but not all firewood is equal. Listed below are some facts about firewood that all consumers should know.
1. Seasoned Wood Gives the Best Results
Immediately after a tree is felled, the wood is green and loaded with the water that kept the tree alive. After evaporation of water in its cells, felled wood measures around 30 percent in total moisture. A period of curing is necessary to season the wood properly. Wood that's split will cure faster and more evenly than logs.
Experts recommend that you burn firewood with a moisture content no higher than 20 percent. A small, handheld moisture meter can be used to measure the moisture content of wood. You can also tell that cut firewood is dry by looking for cracks and checks at the ends of the split pieces.
If you burn green wood of most species of trees, you create a lot of smoke and a low-burning fire that causes heavy creosote deposits on the walls of your chimney. Green wood can also grow mold that's not healthy for you or your home.
2. Species Type Determines Heat Value
The Tennessee Valley is home to many varieties of trees that make good fuel when cut and split. Hardwoods like oak, hickory, beech and poplar are abundant in the forests.
Oak and hickory are known as heavier woods and take longer than lighter woods to cure sufficiently. Once seasoned, these two woods produce long-lasting, hot fires. A high-heat-value wood like oak or hickory gives the heat equivalent of 220 gallons of heating oil for every cord burned.
Other woods that burn hot and long include:
- Black locust
- White ash
Lighter hardwoods burn more quickly. They are good to use as kindling and to mix in with hardwoods. Good light hardwoods for firewood include:
Most any wood will burn when seasoned. Even softwoods like pine can be used as firewood. However, these woods produce pitch, which can cause problems with your stove and chimney when burned indoors.
3. Units of Measurement for Firewood Are Standard
When shopping for firewood, you'll hear terms like cord and rick. Firewood vendors may offer sizes that vary widely for the same cord or rick. How do you know when you're getting a good value?
A cord is 128 cubic feet of densely stacked firewood. This is the only officially accepted measurement, and is legally mandated in some areas. A cord of firewood should never be spelled chord (which is a musical term.)
The dimensions of a cord are supposed to reflect a pile of wood that's 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet wide. But a loose stack of wood of these dimensions may have a volume far less than the same size stack of firewood that's tightly arranged.
A rick is also called a face cord. The amount of wood offered in a rick is around one-third of a cord. However, this is not a legal measurement and can vary in definition between firewood dealers.
Other units of measurement you may hear include:
- Loose cord
- Truck cord
All of these units of measurement are subjective and dependent on the seller's definition. It's best to ask what the dealer's measurements mean in actual cubic feet of wood because the definitions of racks, loose cords and other units of measurement have no legally accepted standards.
At Joe Webster Tree Care, Inc., we help keep forests, woodlots and lawns clear of unwanted trees. As a sustainable business practice, we offer the split logs at a competitive rate as firewood. If you're a homeowner in need of fi