Measure Your Firewood Before You Pay For It

In case you hadn’t noticed (or if you live south of the Equator), it’s almost winter. For many people, that means firing up the old wood-burning fireplace. But before you try to save money by buying firewood in bulk, here are some tips to make sure you don’t get burned.

First off, unless you have a scale that can accurately weigh several hundred pounds of wood, never buy your firewood by the ton or the “truckload.” In many states, unpackaged firewood must be sold by the cord (128 cubic feet) or fraction of the cord.

And before you pay for that cord of wood, you need to make sure it’s stacked properly. The pieces should be stacked neatly with individual pieces touching and parallel to each other. If it looks like a Jenga game or a log cabin, it’s time to re-stack.

Once it’s stacked, then be sure to measure the height, length and depth of the stack. If multiplying the three measurements together doesn’t equal 128 cubic feet, it’s not a cord.

For your protection, you should always be sure to get a receipt. In some municipalities, sellers of firewood are required by law to provide customers with detailed receipts of firewood sales.

The Weights and Measures Division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology has a handy PDF you might want to read before investing all the time and money in that stack of firewood.