Seems like every year someone asks me where they can get some good seasoned firewood. There are a few honest wood sellers in this area who have stockpiled some wood. It's usually seasoned less than 6 months if they sold out last winter, and then cut some wood during summer months to sell this winter. I tell people who I think has good wood, but also tell them they need to look at it. You can usually tell if it's seasoned by the weight, the color, and the bark. You can also usually tell what type of wood it is by the bark.
Most people prefer hardwoods, like oak and locust. Other woods are ok like maple, cherry, and hackberry. Some gum burns ok if seasoned, but puts off less heat. So if your just buying wood to have a fire now and then in your fireplace, you don't need to be too picky about the type of wood, but you do want to make sure it's seasoned. Also, get some loose bark and / or dry twigs to use for kindling.
If you use wood for heat, and you plan to buy a full cord or more, you'll want to shop around for seasoned hardwoods. Using wood that's not seasoned puts off less heat, and also can cause your chimney to get dirty faster. When creosote builds up in your chimney, the chances of a chimney fire increase.
Also, many people don't realize how much wood is in a cord. Some dealers will try to sell wood using terms like: rack, rick, load, face cord, pickup load, etc. You should only measure wood by cord or cubic feet. The length of the wood shouldn't matter unless you have a small wood stove. So if you need a cord custom cut to 14" long pieces because you bought a small woodstove or have a Rumford fireplace, expect to pay extra. But if you can use pieces from 16" to 24", a cord will measure 4' x 4' x 8'. That equals 128 cubic feet. And it should be stacked, not thrown in.
Like everything, it could pay to shop around. Ask you neighbors where they got their wood.
Most wood will come split, but it's ok to get and burn round like you see in this photo. Usually, over 6" in diameter gets split, under 6" will be round. As long as it's dry and seasoned, it will burn and generate heat!
Jeff Pearl | Lic in VA
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