Should I purchase firewood locally?

Buying from a local firewood supplier promotes good forestry and helps stop the spread of harmful diseases and insects which can harm and kill trees.

When should I purchase firewood?

Buying firewood early and not during the winter in peak season can save you money. If you are able to buy and store green wood until it becomes fully dry, may also save you money, as green firewood is usually much cheaper than seasoned firewood. 

How should I store/stack/dry firewood?

One of the most important factors in drying and keeping your firewood dry is air circulation and keeping it off the ground. This stops the firewood from taking moisture from the ground. To ensure proper drying, your firewood should be stored in a well-ventilated place.

One of the most common errors made is to pile firewood logs onto the ground and cover the whole firewood pile with a tarpaulin or plastic sheeting all the way to the ground. This only encourages the spread of mould and decay as it seals in moisture and condensation evaporated from the logs.

If you cover your logs with a tarpaulin or cover, you must ensure that the sides are not covered. The open sides encourage airflow and keep the wood dry and encourage it to season well, any moisture can escape this way from the logs. In this case, rain may get the sides of your firewood pile wet, but the inside of the firewood pile will stay dry and that is better than having the whole firewood pile become wet and mouldy.

The ideal way to keep firewood dry and dry the fastest is to store it in a firewood shed or other structure that has good air circulation. Usually a structure with a roof and 3 sides, with the sides not going all the way to the ground to let air underneath. A good way to keep the firewood off the ground is to use pallets, as this also helps air circulation. 

What is the difference between a face cord and a bush (full) cord?

The standard unit of measure for firewood is called a bush (full) cord, which usually measures 4 feet tall, by 4 feet deep, and 8 feet long. Firewood is commonly sold by the face cord (8 feet long, 4 feet tall, and only as deep as the wood is cut).

Most firewood is cut between 16 and 18 inches in length. If you need a special size to accommodate your firebox, expect to pay more. 

What is the  difference between green and dry wood?

Green firewood is usually freshly cut and holds a moisture content of 40-50%. To be considered “seasoned," green firewood must be allowed to air dry until the moisture content of the reaches 20% or less before being burned. 

What is a moisture meter, where can I purchase one?

A moisture meter is a very useful tool for helping you to ensure that you get the most out of your firewood. It can help you make sure that you are buying and receiving well-seasoned firewood.

To take an accurate moisture reading, you need to measure the moisture on the inside of your piece of firewood. The firewood will be more dry on the outside where the wind and sun can get to it more readily.

Split your piece of firewood down the middle, push the pins on the end of the moisture meter into one of the freshly split faces of the wood (not the end grain and not the outside faces of the wood), ideally near where the middle of the piece was before you split it. Press the power button and the moisture reading will appear on the screen as a percentage.

Moisture meters can be purchased from your local hardware store, or big box stores such as Canadian Tire. 


Tip #1: Splitting Firewood

Not all species of firewood split the same. This is good to know if you plan to split the firewood yourself to save money. The denser the firewood the harder it is to split. 

Tip #2: Burning Firewood

Inspect and clean your wood burning stove/fireplace annually to make sure everything is in proper working order.

Firewood should be well-seasoned before it is burnt. That means taking the moisture content down to 25-20% from typical values of 45-30%. Typically, that means cutting and splitting the firewood into smaller pieces by using a firewood processor or log splitter and then air drying. The bigger the pieces, the longer they take to dry.

Burning firewood that is not dry causes tar and the build up of other waste substances in the stove and the flue can lead to chimney fires and corrosion. It is also inefficient – all the fire’s energy goes into driving the remaining water out of the log rather than producing heat. Wet firewood or logs produce smoke and steam, and results in high levels of particulates, which is bad for your health.

In terms of how much heat you get out of your wood stove, the moisture content of your firewood is probably the single most important thing to consider!

Tip #3: How to Tell if your Firewood is Seasoned

  • The ends contain shrinkage cracks from the drying process and a have dark grey or weathered appearance. The bark may also be loosely attached to the outside.

  • When you bang two of pieces of seasoned wood together, they make a clear-sounding "clink" rather than a dull-sounding "thud."

  • The firewood feels light, but solid. It ignites quickly, and no water is visibly exiting the firewood while burning.

  • Use a firewood moisture meter. This will tell you the percentage of moisture in a piece of firewood.