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How Does Your Firewood Stack Up?

Knowing which firewood will give you the best burn for your buck is easy once you learn how the heat values of different hardwoods stack up against each other.

For instance, a cord of hickory will yield the heat equivalent of 146 gallons of #2 heating oil. The heating equivalents, stated in gallons of heating oil per cord for other popular hardwoods are as follows: White oak/135 gals. Beech/130 gals., Red Oak, Hard Maple and Yellow Birch/127 gals., Ash/119 gals., Soft Maple, Black Cherry and Paper Birch/110 gals., and finally Poplar 74/gals.

Very often a cord of wood offered for sale will contain mixed hardwoods. There is nothing wrong with this practice, but the seller should be able to tell you which hardwood(s) predominate.

As you can see from the hardwood heating values, a cord of wood comprised mostly of Soft Maple will burn much faster than a cord of White Oak and is therefore worth less money.

Once you determine the quality of wood you are buying, make sure the quantity meets your expectations. A cord of wood is not a truckload or a pile dumped in your driveway. It must measure 128 cubic feet and measure four feet by four feet by eight feet long when closely stacked.

Some states specifically prohibit the terms "cord", "face cord", "pile" or "truckload" from being used in advertising the sale of cordwood or firewood.

The first stacking of firewood is the legal measurement and doesn't necessarily happen on your property after delivery.

A standard pickup truck full of loose firewood that "should be about a cord" is simply not a cord. If anything, it might be "face cord", which is roughly one-third of 128 cubic feet.

Get a delivery receipt attesting to quantity sold and stack it tightly and promptly. Measure and take pictures. If the quantity delivered is less than promised, contact your local weights and measures office of the Division of Standards.

Purchase fully seasoned firewood or split your firewood at least six months before use. Keep it off the ground and covered with plastic, allowing air to circulate freely.

Green wood (freshly cut) has less heat value because energy is expended evaporating moisture trapped in the wood.

About the Author: Improve your home with Alternative Heating

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