November 7, 2003
As a person who works everyday with trees and wood products I often answer questions that relate to firewood. The most common questions relate to the price and quality of various types and amounts of firewood. In Canada firewood is sold on a stacked cord basis. A legal cord is a stack of wood measuring four feet tall, four feet wide and eight feet long. This totals 128 cubic feet of wood, bark and air space. The volume of solid wood in a cord depends on many things, including the size of the logs, the number of crooks or crotches, how closely limbs were trimmed and the amount of bark attached. Research has shown that the average stacked cord of softwood, such as Pine contains 80 cubic feet of wood. Hardwoods like Ash, Oak and Poplar contain about 70 cubic feet. If you buy tossed or loosely stacked firewood you may be purchasing more air than wood. The standard 8ft truck box can hold 60 cubic feet of firewood if stacked tightly to the top of the box. If tossed in loosely it can be much less. A recent study in the state of Maine concluded that a cord of wood tossed into a loose stack would fill a volume of 180 cubic feet. This is approximately 40% more space than by stacking it correctly. When purchasing firewood make sure you get your fair share by insisting on a stacked cord or 1/2 cord. The Manitoba Department of Conservation advises that a seller should not use terms such as truckload, face cord, rack, or pile, as they are not legal measures of firewood volume. Know whom you get your wood from and make sure you get what you pay for. Insist on a stacked cord price. Most firewood is priced delivered to your driveway, stacking, or carrying on your property may be available at an extra charge. With out the use of heavy equipment it may take 12 man hours to gather, cut and process a cord of wood. It takes 10, 8-inch trees to make a Cord! Every tree species produces firewood that has unique qualities. Heat content, ease of splitting, ease of starting, coal production and sparks are a few of the qualities that are of interest when burning wood for heat or aesthetics. Oak tops the scale for heat production, but can be difficult to start and doesn't produce much flame. Its ability to produce long lasting coals or coaling makes it a good choice for closed stoves where heat production is the goal. Ash is easy to split, creates a good amount of flame and is similar to Oak in the total amount of heat produced. These qualities make Ash ideal for fireplaces and stoves. Manitoba Maple has good heat output, excellent coaling qualities but tends to throw sparks. Maple may be best for the stove or a well-screened fire place. Poplar is easy to split, and easy to start, but has comparatively low heat output. The following heat values are for common Manitoba hardwoods.
Heat Values of Common Manitoba Hardwoods
OAK 28.2* ,
POPLAR 17.2,*MILLIONS OF BTU’S PER CORD