web analytics
buying firewood? nice article to read. - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


No announcement yet.

buying firewood? nice article to read.

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • buying firewood? nice article to read.

    I just came across this article from Craigslist. Its a good read for someone interested in purchasing firewood. I learned a good deal and thought I would post it here for reference.


    Well, it's that time of year--people are starting to get ready for the winter wood-burning season. Craigslist is a great place to find reputable wood sellers, but unfortunately it's also a haven for the not-so-honest wood sellers too. The following information should help you get the most bang for your buck when buying your firewood supply.

    Basically, firewood buying boils down to two main criteria: Quality and Quantity.


    The laws for selling firewood in Oregon can be found here. "A cord of wood shall measure 4'x4'x8' tightly stacked." Note that it is ILLEGAL to sell firewood in the State of Oregon that is not advertised in cords or fractions of cords--i.e. selling a "truckload," "face cord," etc. is illegal. It is also illegal to sell "short cords," that is cords that do not equal 128 cubic feet when TIGHTLY STACKED. Lastly, the claimed species or species mix of the cord wood (i.e. 50% oak 50% fir) must be accurate to within 10%.

    "A word about pick-up trucks. One pickup truck load is NEVER a cord, unless it's a 1-ton with a dump bed or a full size truck with extensions on the bed rails. A seasoned cord of white oak weighs over 2 tons, and you can?t carry that in a regular old pick-up truck. (An unseasoned cord of white oak weighs even more, and has greater volume too.) A mid-size truck (like a Dodge Dakota) stacked tight and high is about 1/3 of a cord. A full-size truck with an 8? bed (?, ?, or 1-ton with a regular bed and no extensions on the rails to allow for higher stacking) if stacked tight and high is about ? of a cord. Of course, you can fit less in the truck if it?s randomly tossed in as a pile rather than tightly stacked in the truck. Again, you can?t know how much is there for sure until you see it stacked 4?x8? and measure the average length of a log to determine how many stacks you should get."

    The single best way to ensure that you get what you're paying for when buying firewood is to have the wood seller stack the wood for you so that you can accurately measure it. Some will do this for free (especially if you help!) others may charge a small fee. I'll usually tell them that I'll pay them to stack it, but if it's not a full cord I won't pay them for stacking and I expect them to make up the short wood or discount the short load that they're delivering. Honest wood sellers have no problem with this--dishonest wood sellers don't like it. Remember that it's important to measure the length of the splits. Three rows of 16" long firewood stacked 4'x8' = 128 cu ft or one true cord. Three rows of 13" long splits stacked 4'x8'= 104 cu ft, NOT a full cord! Whenever possible, don't pay for the wood until you've had a chance to stack it and measure it to ensure you're getting what you pay for. Also, Oregon law requires that the wood seller give you a receipt for your purchase stating clearly how much wood was delivered and of what species. If after stacking you realize you've been shorted, contact the seller and ask him to make it right. If he won't, you can file a with the dept. of weights an measure.


    Generally speaking, hardwoods like Oak, Madrone, Maple, etc are the most desirable (and the most expensive!) species for firewood here in Silicon Valley.. They are heavier and denser than softwood species, and so piece for piece, hardwood puts out more BTU's than softwood--it also burns longer. Softwoods (Pine, Fir, Cedar, etc) will burn just fine too and in fact Doug Fir is probably the most popular wood species because of it's relative abundance and reasonable cost. . Many people will buy their firewood in a 2-1 ratio of hardwood to softwood as they use the softwood to start the fire and generate heat quickly, and then, once a sufficient coal-bed is established in their stove, they'll throw on some hardwood and "damp down" the stove (reduce the air flow into the stove) to get some nice long burn times.

    As important as the species of wood that you choose to burn is, perhaps even more important is that the wood be seasoned properly. Generally speaking, wood that has a moisture content of 20% or below is considered to be good for burning. Softwood species like Doug Fir can be seasoned in as little as 6 months (after it's cut and split!!), hardwoods like White Oak will take two years to season properly. Now it's time to make an important distinction--firewood that will burn and firewood that will burn well.

    Wood with a moisture content of 25-30% will usually burn, it just doesn't burn well. The problem with burning unseasoned wood is that a lot of the heat will just go up your chimney in the form of steam and smoke as all that excess moisture is burned-off. There's an old saying that "hissing wood is like pissing away money." Hissing wood in your wood stove=wet wood, and burning wet wood is bad for the environment, your stove, and your wallet!!! To get the most bang for your buck, it's very important that the firewood you buy is properly seasoned. As a general rule, softwoods require 6-12 months (after being cut, bucked, and split) to properly season, and hardwoods require 1-2 years. Burning wood that's not properly seasoned will cost you money as you'll need to burn a lot more. For example, if you're burning White Oak that has only been seasoned 1 year, you'll almost certainly use 50%-100% more wood to generate the same amount of heat that you'd get by using properly seasoned wood. In effect, unseasoned wood costs double what seasoned wood costs!!!

    In my opinion, the best, easiest, and most accurate way to determine if the firewood you are buying is properly seasoned is to buy a tool called a moisture meter. A moisture meter will measure the moisture content of virtually any species of wood. In order to get an accurate reading, you must split open the piece of wood you are testing, and take your reading from the freshly-split face of the wood. Moisture meters can be bought for as little as $12, Harbor Freight sells them as do sellers on eBay. Honest wood sellers take pride in their properly seasoned firewood because they know how much time and effort it takes to produce well-seasoned wood, and they'll have no problem with you testing their wood prior to purchase. Dishonest wood sellers prey upon uniformed buyers and they are usually more concerned with making a quick buck than they are with developing repeat business. If a wood seller refuses to let you check the moisture content of their wood, you'd be better off finding another seller. Also, there are some wood sellers who aren't dishonest--they just don't know what truly seasoned firewood really is!!! The surest way to know that you're really burning seasoned wood is to either cut and season it yourself, or, buy your firewood one year in advance so that you know it will burn really well. Lastly, it's very important with today's modern EPA certified stoves to only burn well-seasoned wood in order to let your stove live up to it's full potential.

    So why is it so hard to find wood sellers with properly seasoned wood for sale? Imagine the time, effort, and space that it takes to cut down the trees, transport the logs, buck the logs to stove length, and then split and stack the wood to dry--and then wait 1-2 years to get paid for all your hard work!! Extrapolate that over 25-50 cords and now you understand why so few wood sellers offer properly seasoned wood for sale!! There are however many hard-working and reputable wood sellers in our area who pride themselves on delivering the same quality and quantity of wood that they would want to burn in their home.

    Bottom line: Don't get scammed--get informed!!! As with anything else, buyer beware--so try to be as informed a buyer as you can be.

    Good luck, and happy and safe burning!!!

  • #2
    Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

    Thank You! Very Informative.


    • #3
      Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

      great article,,, Thanks


      • #4
        Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

        Thats some good info.
        Mosture meter will be in my tool box.


        • #5
          Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

          I just bought a bunch of under-seasoned oak. didn't look right to me, but I didn't test it. the guy insisted it was fine. It burns, but it takes a while to get going. I'm going to set it aside and get some more.

          I thought about taking it back, but I'm not going to load it up to prove a point.


          • #6
            Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

            We where recommended to get seasoned hardwood by our WFO supplier, but we experimented with kiln dried seasoned hardwood, around 3% more expensive but burns hotter and longer!
            Where can I find logs? I need more!
            Finishing the WFO will come after the barn is completed http://flinthousebarn.co.uk/


            • #7
              Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

              Good article. It is geared towards buying wood for a fireplace or wood stove. For a wood fired oven, however, there are additional considerations.

              - The oven is only loaded once. Therefore a slow burning long lasting wood (such as madrona) which is desirable for someone keeping a wood stove fed, is less important.

              - Wood for a wood fired oven is general split down to a much smaller size that stove wood, typically 9 sq inches or so on the end (3x3). Wood which is easy to hand split is therefore desirable.

              - The temperature we are going for are much higher that in wood stoves. For that you need a well seasoned wood, more seasoned then that required for a fireplace or wood stove. Softwoods season faster than hardwoods. I use a maximum of 15% moisture content.

              - All common firewood, hard wood or soft wood have the same BTU's per pound.

              In my opinion the best value for a wood fired oven is a softwood. In my area that would be something like Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii; not a true fir - beware local names). Good wood management and a proper wood shed are well worth the effort.
              Last edited by Neil2; 05-10-2011, 07:16 PM.


              • #8
                Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

                Have you considered processing your own? That way you know what you are getting and it should be a lot cheaper.
                / Rossco


                • #9
                  Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

                  Rossco, I'm about to go that route for the first time. FREE! Neighbor just cut off all the limbs from a live oak that he wants gone but didn't know what to with the trunk and main limbs. Small by oak standards (only a 15" trunk diameter), I'm thinking I'll get between 1/2 & 3/4 of a cord once split. Can't believe my wife actually suggested taking it, she has been opposed to my taking on any quantity and letting it sit. I'm guessing she is getting tired of me dropping $180 for every 1/2 cord I buy. Seasoned hardwood is hard to find here, my regular supplier is the only one who ever has wood that has seasoned more than a few months.
                  I've seen this craigslist info, the info is scaled way back for the local market, since there are no regulations in FL on firewood sales. Virtually every homeowner and landscaper is selling by the bundle (6-8 pieces for $5), wheelbarrow load ($20), and pickup truck load ($100-$150). Problem is, it is all green, having just been cut. My current supplier is the only guy I've met that actually knows what a cord is...and I'm the only one who insists on buying it by the cord and 1/2 cord. Users here are usually only looking for small quantities to burn in their chimineas or for their fireplaces on those few cold nights in the winter.



                  • #10
                    Re: buying firewood? nice article to read.

                    Sounds good RT that sounds like a really good find. I bought a cheap $130 chainsaw on eBay and an electric log splitter and I instantly became self sufficient in my wood needs.

                    It is surprising how much good wood goes begging when you start keeping your eyes and ears open for it. People are always chopping/pruning trees in their gardens and often have to pay someone to take away the wood.

                    Seems like eveyone wins with this arrangement. I look forward to seeing a pic of your growing FREE wood pile!
                    / Rossco