Long Island Firewood

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Buying firewood on Long Island can be quite a challenge. If you don't have knowledge of firewood and a reliable source you may be in for quite a surprise.

What you should know before spending your hard earned money:

  • Firewood producers are not regulated.

  • The only legal volume measurement is a CORD.

  • "Seasoned" firewood can refer to any type of firewood.

  • BTU (heat) ratings occur only at the correct moisture content.

  • Some firewood sellers are not legitimate.

No Regulation of Firewood Producers

Anyone can cut and sell firewood. There is no licensing, permits or regulatory agencies. You would think there would be someone insuring the firewood industry was regulated and fair for the consumer.
WELL, THERE IS NOT. Be sure you know who you are dealing with. If the deal seems too good to be true, it usually is. Once you have a few 1,000 pounds of wood in your yard, it'll be tough to get your money back if you're not happy.

One Cord of Firewood = 128 cubic feet

Did you know that the only legal volume to measure and sell firewood is the CORD ? There is no legal volume for a "Face Cord" or a "Rick" or a "Pile" or a "Stack". Sellers are legally obligated to disclose the cubic feet or portion of any cord they sell.By law it must be printed on your receipt.
Example: 1/8 cord, 1/4 cord, 1/2 cord, etc.
[ BTW, the "CORD" came in use 100's of years ago when firewood was cheap and sellers were honest. ]

The only way to measure and sell firewood is to stack it and measure the stack:
(length) x (width) x (height) = 128 cubic feet
There are infinite ways to stack the wood to end up with the magic number 128.
The most common reference is a stack that is:
(4 ft high) x (4 ft wide) x (8 ft long)
You could also have a stack that was:
(1 ft high) x (1 ft wide) x (128 ft long)
Hope you are good at math.

The majority of the firewood sold on Long Island does not even come close to measuring a true cord and 128 cubic feet. The only way you can find out is by stacking and measuring your firewood. By that time the seller is long gone. Better to pay to have it stacked, rather than find out later that your pile shrunk when you stacked it. A pile will take up a volume 30% more than stacked firewood and IT IS ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE TO DELIVER A TRUE CORD IN A PICK UP TRUCK or STACKED ON 2 PALLETS !!

"SEASONED" Firewood Doesn't = DRY Firewood

Just because firewood is referred to a "SEASONED" doesn't guarantee it will burn. I'm constantly amazed at what sellers considered seasoned. ON LONG ISLAND IT TAKES A MINIMUM OF 6 MONTHS TO PROPERLY SEASON SPLIT FIREWOOD.
Do you know how to dry laundry outside on a clothesline? Now imagine you wanted to dry some firewood. How much longer do you think it will take? What if you pile it up in the shade and let it get rained on every week? How about adding the Long Island humidity of July and August?

It's just common sense. A dense piece of wood full of water will take a long time to dry. It is impossible to correctly dry firewood in timber, log or block form. All firewood must be split and drying for at least 6 months, especially on Long Island. Anybody that tells you different is lying to you. Make sure you ask your seller how long their wood has been split and drying for. If it looks too clean and perfect when it arrives, get ready to send it back. Properly seasoned firewood should look dry, faded, have no smell, be losing the bark and feel light when picked up. Otherwise, you've got "seasoned" firewood that was not seasoned long enough. In that case you'll probably have to wait until next year to burn it.

BTU's = Heat

The measurement of heat is the BTU (British Thermal Unit). Your warm fire is a direct result of the amount of BTU's that are produced by the firewood you are burning. THE ONLY WAY TO GET TRUE BTU RATINGS IS AT THE CORRECT MOISTURE CONTENT. Firewood needs to be between 15 and 30% moisture content in order for the full BTU rating to be achieved. When the wood has too much moisture the fire spends its energy converting water into steam and not releasing the potential heat. When the wood has too little moisture it will burn too rapidly to efficiently release the heat.

Firewood that has not been fully dried is very inefficient. You will have to burn up to 3 times as much wood to achieve the same efficiency as properly dried firewood. Do you like buying three times as much gas for your car? Of course not. Be sure your wood has the correct moisture content. That's a topic almost all firewood producers like to avoid. I've heard some classic answers in the past.
Example: "If moisture content is so important, than how come forest fires burn?"
LOL. Most things, including steel burn at 2,000 degrees.

Buy From Someone You Can Trust

Everybody wants a good deal, but use common sense when purchasing firewood. Be sure you are dealing with a reputable year round company. Here on Long Island there are very few year round firewood companies, most of them are seasonal (landscapers, nurseries,etc.) Be sure to ask lots of questions before buying. Pay with a credit card and get a receipt stating the volume and type of firewood. Stay away from "Firewood 4 Sale" signs on telephone poles, ads on Craigslist, cell phone numbers and sellers that jump into the market seasonally. If someone can't answer your questions, then don't buy their firewood.

Know Your Firewood and Seller

Being educated about firewood will help you determine where to buy it. Remember there's no one regulating the sellers. The cord measurement is antiquated and very hard to verify. "Seasoned" firewood can refer to anything. If you've got too much moisture than you've got too little heat & always buy from a reputable company that you can trust.

Keep the above points in mind and I am sure you will bypass the poor firewood sellers and find quality firewood that will keep you warm and happy all Winter long.


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