Firewood Basics

Firewood is typically measured and sold by volume, and the most com-mon unit of measure is by the "cord". A cord is 128 cubic feet of wood stacked in a parallel, compact manner. The 128 cubic feet is determined by a space of 8 feet across, 4 feet tall and 4 feet deep.

Density and moisture content are the main factors to consider when de-termining which type of firewood is best for you. Most firewood users prefer the long-burning and high heat output that hardwoods like oak, birch and maple provide. Because hardwood is denser in comparison to softwood, it holds significantly more potential heat than the same amount of softwood.

Many experts claim that the moisture content of the wood is even more important than the species of wood you choose. While all wood has some moisture, the levels can vary significantly depending on factors such as drying time, where the wood is stored, and the wood species.

Why is moisture so important? When wood burns, the heat generated must dry the wood before it will burn. The higher the moisture level in the wood, the more energy is wasted in the process of removing the mois-ture. Furthermore, firewood with high moisture levels will produce more potentially dangerous creosote in your chimney – a highly flammable substance that sticks to the walls of your chimney and creates the big-gest potential hazard when using a fireplace

Freshly cut firewood (green wood) contains almost 50% water. Well-seasoned firewood typically contains 20-25% moisture, and requires at least 6 months of properly stacked drying time.

Kiln-dried firewood is heat-treated to remove even more moisture - result-ing in a much quicker light and a hotter, cleaner burn. The other nice ad-vantage of kiln-dried firewood is that the heat-treatment removes all pests, insects and mold.

Don’t Move Firewood

Because destructive insects and diseases can be transported in firewood, most camp sites do not allow firewood to be brought in from outside sources.

"Tree-killing insects and diseases can lurk in firewood. These insects and diseases can’t move far on their own...but when people move fire-wood - they can jump hundreds of miles." -dontmovefirewood.org

Calling the campsite ahead of time to check what the rules are is a great first step. If the site allows local firewood to be brought in – just ask what the requirements are. You might have to buy firewood that is sold close to where you’re camping, or you can bring it in from anywhere if it’s kiln-dried and packaged correctly.