The best firewood is generally bought fresh cut or green and needs seasoning or to be dried for use, this process takes 6 to 12 months so you want to buy the best firewood during early spring, buy firewood locally from someone that is part of a forest management program this way cut trees are replanted.
Now let’s get right into how to buy the best firewood, this can often be a difficult question for homeowners to answer, whether it’s your first time buying or you have been burning for many years, with my 18 years of experience as a professional chimney sweep I would like to help you make the process of buying firewood much less painful, and help you buy exactly what you need, without overpaying or receiving what you don’t want or need.
When buying firewood it’s best to look for hardwoods that are common in your area although softwoods can be burnt in moderation without too much trouble, hardwoods are known as deciduous trees, after proper seasoning they burn very well because of their high density allowing them to burn longer and hotter than softwoods.
Continue reading because by the end of this post you will be able to buy the best firewood possible in your area and you will buy it like a professional, in this article we answer some of the most common questions when buying firewood and some of those are,
How much wood should I buy? What is a cord of wood? What questions should I ask a seller at the time of purchase? types of wood, and how well they burn, etc. so continue reading, and let’s get you that perfect wood.
Where can I buy firewood near me?
So if you have never bought firewood or you are looking for a different supplier you probably have asked google, Where can I buy firewood near me, well If you are looking for a reputable company in your area that sells firewood and you want to know if the wood they sell is good quality, don’t take their word for it, try asking your neighbors or friends that have fireplaces or wood-burning stoves and ask them where they buy wood and find out what their experience has been with any companies they recommend, that way you have a head start choosing the right company, and they will sell you the best firewood.
Not all wood is alike there are many different species of wood that are available in different areas of the USA and Canada, so where you can buy the best firewood will vary depending on where you live and most company’s that sell wood sell more than one species, sometimes they sell you a mixed lot of wood and that’s not a bad thing just find out what kinds of wood their selling you before buying, make sure you are getting all hardwood.
Where can I look online for firewood?
Another great way to find buy the best firewood possible is on firewood scout, in this site just add your zip code or area code into a search field and the distance in miles from your house that you would like to search and there you go you have companies to call near you.
and if you use the same search query in google maps you should be able to find the same companies and compare their star rating and the comments people have left about them.
Questions you should ask before buying firewood
Once you have found a reputable company to buy from it’s always good to ask the right questions before buying, some of the questions we suggest you ask the person selling the wood are in the list below.
What species of wood am I buying?
When was it cut?
Has it been seasoned yet?
What is the moisture content?
Am I buying a mix of wood or one species?
Am I buying hardwood?
Is stacking the wood included in the price?
Is the fire I’m buying already split?
All of these questions are valid at the time of purchase because you want to get the best firewood for your buck, if you take the time to read on you will without a doubt buy the best firewood possible with my tips and tricks.
What kind of firewood should I buy?
Really this all depends on where you live because tree species vary from one place to another, but for the most part, hardwoods are an excellent choice because of their density, they produce more heat and they burn longer in your firebox than softwood, also seasoned hardwoods burn hot and do not produce as much smoke or dirty your chimney with creosote as fast as softwoods.
Buy from firewood companies that have tree managment programs
Always try to buy firewood from people that are consistently replanting trees or are supporting some type of replanting project for managed forests, I think everyone can agree that sustainability is so important and we all can do our part in protecting the environment and it is a great way to give back to Mother Earth, so before buying ask where the wood is coming from, and whether the company is doing their part in helping reforestation.
If they are doing their part in reforestation please commend them for their work.
let’s look at some of our favorite hardwoods that are readily available in Canada and the United States.
What are BTU’s
These are my top 7 firewood picks based on many factors like heat value In BTU’s (British Thermal Units, fragrance, heat, burn time, and woods that smoke least, all of them are great but each one has its own characteristics.
My 7 personal favorite firewoods
I didn’t want to write an exhaustive list of different woods, instead, I wanted this to be a list of some of my personal favorites and some of the most common woods, but these can differ depending on where you live in.
Oak – Oak is very dense making it a great candidate for burning, it very burns hot, and burns slow, oak should be seasoned one year before use, it will turn grey in color and break on the ends when it is ready to burn.
Blackthorn This wood is highly rated as one of the best firewoods because it burns great and gives off very little smoke, this is a huge bonus if you live close to your neighbors.
Ash A great wood for a steady fire and good heat, this wood is easy to find and can be burned with little or no seasoning making it a good choice if you forgot to buy your firewood early in the season.
Walnut This wood is perfect for any airtight wood stove because it burns long and hot with very little smoke, which means less deposit on the inside of your chimney making it much easier to clean.
Maple – You can find maple in many areas of the United States and Canada, it is difficult to split but very efficient and burns hot, maple might need seasoning up to one year before use, this is a very popular wood.
Cherry – this wood burns at a medium heat but burns nice and slow, it has a sweet aroma that smells wonderful it sparks a bit but that’s all part of the fun and this wood does not produce much smoke.
Apple – Apple is very dense, burns very hot, produces very little smoke and sparks and it has a nice fragrant scent that makes any fireplace that much better, apple is one of my personal favorites.
If you would like to see a larger list of firewood and its BTU value you can take a look at the list in the link: https://forestry.usu.edu/forest-products/wood-heating
How much firewood should I buy?
So if it’s your first season burning wood or you just installed a new system you’re probably asking yourself how much do I need to buy to get me through the winter.
If you have just bought a house with a wood-burning stove or fireplace the previous owners should be able to help you understand more or less what they used in a season and you can gauge from there, you can also ask them what type of wood they burned, who or where they bought it from and how much did they pay per cord of wood.
How often do you use your wood stove?
So in my experience for a typical sized airtight wood stove or insert is used only on the weekends like in a cottage or cabin, you typically can buy one cord of wood for the season and that should be enough, but if you want this to be your main source of heat you will probably need two to three cords of wood minimum if you plan to use it every day, this rule doesn’t apply to an opened fireplace because it is much less efficient than an airtight wood stove.
How long is your wood burning season?
So when buying the best firewood you need to take into consideration how long your burning season is, this information is based on a 5-month winter in Ontario Canada so if you’re in the middle of the USA for example Virginia or North Carolina, etc. your wood consumption may vary because your winter is shorter allowing you to consume less, also each species of wood is different so how long your cord of wood will last can vary.
What is a cord of wood?
Firewood is commonly sold in bulk measurements or quantities of a volume known as a full cord or bush cord, this is a stack of wood 8 feet long by 4 feet tall by 4 feet deep, a full cord has a volume of 128 cubic feet or 3.62 cubic meters and a full cord of split wood is assumed to have about 80 to 90 cubic feet of solid wood.
What is a face cord or stove cord?
A face cord or sometimes known as a stove cord or furnace cord is 8 feet long by 4 feet tall and 16” to 18” deep, a half-face cord would be half that amount.
These are the most common measurements for buying firewood and they are the standard in the USA and Canada.
How long should my pieces of firewood be?
Something else to remember when buying wood is always to take into consideration the size of your firebox because some wood stoves or wood inserts, in particular, can be very small inside, so we recommend measuring the inside of your firebox if you’re not sure, because the last thing you want is wood that is too long and to is struggling to put it in a hot fire.
For the most part, firewood is sold in 16 to 18-inch pieces but if your firebox is smaller you can ask for 12-inch pieces and they are generally available anywhere you can buy wood
No matter what the door size is on your wood stove, you should always try to buy firewood that is 2” smaller than your door width.
It is a good idea to measure the inside of your firebox to decide what size you might need, each firebox can differ in size.
What to expect when your wood is delivered?
If you can, It’s always better to be present when the delivery is made because what you negotiated could be delivered differently than you expected, this can happen because firewood companies usually have a variety of wood species in their yard and mistakes happen.
If you can’t be there when they deliver the wood ask a friend or family member to be there to receive it for you.
Ask for a receipt
You should ask for a receipt specifying the quantity and type of firewood purchased, the name and telephone number of the seller, and the amount paid so there is no confusion about what you are receiving, and the reason is that what you ordered could be very different on delivery.
Ask if they can stack the firewood
You can always ask if the company stacks the firewood because for some people this can be a daunting task or maybe they just don’t have the time to do it on their own, normally you can ask the delivery company if they would be willing to stack it for you for a bit more money, and this can definitely be worth it if you suffer from a bad back or anything else it could be a lifesaver.
After buying wood and it’s been delivered you should start the seasoning process right away by splitting and stacking it, split wood drys faster than whole logs, during the drying process you can test it from time to time with a moisture meter and when it drops below 20% moisture content it is ready to burn.
I hope my firewood buyer’s guide was useful whether you’ve been burning wood for many years or you are just starting to use your first fireplace or wood-burning stove, remember the most important thing is that you enjoy your fire on those cold nights or when entertaining friends, or just relaxing with a glass of wine, there is nothing like the feeling of a real fire to heat your home or take the chill off at the cottage, watching those dancing flames never lose its magic and there is nothing like the natural heat of hardwood.
Thank you for reading my guide to buying the best firewood like a chimney sweep, and please feel free to check out our other posts, and please sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive wood burning tips and tricks and receive our monthly recommended products.