During the coldest days of winter, there's nothing quite like warming up in front of a crackling fire.
But to fuel a winter's worth of fires, you're going to need a lot of wood. And if you don't have an abundant supply of wood on your property, you've got to buy it.
Firewood is measured in cords. So what is a cord of firewood?
A cord is defined as 128 cubic feet of wood. This measures approximately 4' x 8' x 4'.
Keeping It Organized
A cord of wood is a whole mess of logs. Using log racks is the easiest way to keep them organized, neat, and out-of-the-way. Typically, log racks are kept outside as the wood ages, or seasons.
If you do elect to bring the wood inside, only bring in a small amount. Hit the wood together to get rid of any unwanted pests, such as spiders and insects, from accompanying your wood indoors.
You should also wait and make sure the wood is well seasoned before bringing it inside to use in your fireplace.
Whether you split your own firewood or buy it, you need to make sure it has been properly seasoned. Generally, this takes about one year; but the thickness, type of wood, and weather will factor into how long it takes. One way to tell if your wood has seasoned long enough is to check for cracks in the ends of the logs. Seasoned wood typically cracks at the ends as it loses moisture.
Unseasoned wood will not create as much energy as seasoned firewood. Also, unseasoned firewood emits much more smoke as it burns. If you procure your own wood, split it before you leave it to season, as it will occur much more quickly this way.
If you hit two logs together and they make a sharp cracking sound, they are good to go. If, when you hit them together, the logs make a dull thud sound, they aren't ready.
Knowing the Difference Between a Full Cord & a Face Cord
Some places that sell firewood may mislead you by advertising a cord of wood while only selling you a fraction of a cord.
How can this be? There are two different takes on what makes a cord of wood. There is a true cord of wood, which (as mentioned in the introduction) is 4' high x 8' long x 4' deep and equals a total of 128 cubic feet of fuel for your fire. Then there are face cords, which aren't really cords at all.
Face cords are typically 4' x 8' x 18", which means they're really giving you less than a half cord. A full cord of wood should be at least two or three stacks of firewood (one behind another) that are 4-feet high and 8-feet long.
That adds up to be a major difference in the amount of firewood you're actually getting for your money. Because there are a lot of places that do this, you're better off investing in your own log splitter and splitting your own cords of wood to ensure you're getting what you need. Not only can you get more firewood for less cost, you can sell the extra firewood in full cords to others who are tired of getting swindled.