What to Look For When Buying Firewood for Your Wood Burning Fireplace

Winter is here and the frigid weather chills the air. A warming fire in the fireplace takes the winter chill out of your home.

If you are lucky enough to have a wood burning fireplace or wood burning stove, it is a great way to take the chill out of the air. The fireplace is not the most efficient method of heating a home, but it does create temporary warmth in a room. Fireplaces are also a beautiful focal point in the room, especially when the orange flames crackle.

Many people cut their own firewood. Firewood can be purchased from individuals or stores. Like any product, it is a good idea to shop around for firewood for your house. When shopping for wood, there are many factors to consider, including quality, price, and delivery.


The quality of the wood depends upon many factors, including what kind of tree it comes from and how long it has aged. Different types of wood have different characteristics, including amount of heat, length of burn time, aroma, smoking and sparking. There are many types of trees, and therefore many different woods. Some of the top woods for burning are: Apple, Ash, Beech, Birch Cedar, Cherry, Hazel, Holly, Hornbeam, Larch, Laurel, Maple, Oak, Pear, Pine, Plum, Thorn, Walnut and Yew. The woods from fruit trees, such as Cherry, Apple, and Plum tend to be the most pleasant smelling.

The best woods for your fireplace are seasoned. Seasoned wood is aged for at least a year, meaning that it was cut last year or even the year before last. Most woods that you will find on the marketplace now are this years wood, and not yet at it’s best for burning. To ensure that your wood is properly seasoned buy it a year in advance.

If you need wood for this year, it is obviously too late to buy it a year in advance. When looking for wood to use this year, try to find seasoned wood.

One way to ascertain whether the firewood is seasoned, is by it’s appearance. Unseasoned wood has a wet, fresh look. Seasoned wood looks dark, or gray, when compared to green wood. If you split a piece of seasoned wood it will be white on the inside. It is brittle and has cracks running through each piece, with a lot of little cracks on the inside ring.

If you are buying wood for this year, look for fir and pine. Fir and pine are softer woods and don’t need to be seasoned as long as other woods.

Wood that has not been seasoned properly will smolder, instead of burn. Last year I bought green, unseasoned wood and never could get a good fire going. The wood smoldered and would go out. The logs seemed to take forever to burn and never produced a good quality heat. What I have left over of last year’s wood is burning well this year.

Wood that is still green will cause creosote build up in your fireplace. Creosote builds up due to the condensation of the moisture in the wood. you get creosote buildup in your chimney, you will need to get the chimney professionally cleaned more frequently.

Wet wood causes the whole system to be cool, and inefficient. Dry, seasoned wood produces a hot, crackling fire.


In order to comparison shop for wood, it is important to understand a few terms. Find out is the price is based on a cord, face cord, pickup truckload or some other amount. The manner in which the wood is stacked, what kind of truck is used and how the truck is loaded are all important to know when comparing quantity.

Cord: A stack approximately four feet high, four feet deep, and eight feet long.

Face Cord: A less precise standard measurement then the Cord. It usually means a stack equal in height and length but will less depth compared to a standard Cord.

Pickup Truckload. A Pickup Truckload varies the most. Is it a full sized truck or a small truck. How is it stacked?

Full sized truck, stacked to the top of the cab, holds approximately a cord of wood.
Full sized truck, stacked to the top of the box holds approximately 2/3 of a cord of wood.
Small sized pickup truck, stacked to the top of the cab holds approximately 1/2 of a cord of wood.
Small sized pickup truck, stacked to the top of the box can hold about 1/3 of a cord of wood.

These measurements are only approximate. For example: a cord of wood may actually require two full sized truckloads, if it isn’t loaded tightly.


When shopping for firewood, ask if the price includes delivery and stacking. How the firewood is cut and stacked is important, Proper storage of the wood ensures that the wood will continue to season properly. Do not cover the stacked wood with a canopy, it causes the condensation to remain in the wood.

Enjoy your wood burning fireplace or wood burning stove this year. Purchasing the right wood, will produce a more efficient fire to heat your home and to enjoy.

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