As the weather turns chilly, more and more of us will need firewood—whether it’s for outdoor fire pits, fireplaces, or wood-burning stoves. No matter what your reason for buying it, there are a few things you should know before you do. 

What’s a Cord? 

Firewood is usually sold by the cord, and a full cord of cut wood measures 128 cubic feet. Generally speaking, that means it’s 4’x8’x4’ deep. No matter where you go, a cord should be the same amount, unless it’s what’s known as a face cord which is 4 feet high, 8 feet long, and as deep as the individual logs (generally 16, 20, or 24” long). 

A cord is quite a lot of wood so be sure you have a place to keep it. You’ll want to store firewood in a dry place, away from your house, as it can attract mice and other pests. You also want to make sure to stack the wood in such a way that there is air flow between the logs to help keep them dry. When calling for firewood, be sure that you request the right wood for your purposes. For fireplaces and wood stoves, you’ll want hardwoods like oak and maple, or cherry. These woods are denser and will burn slower and cleaner than softwoods such as pine and poplar, which are more appropriate for outdoor fire pits. Burning softwoods indoors can lead to a buildup of creosote, which can cause a chimney fire.

Make sure you ask the seller what kind of wood you’re getting. A reliable supplier will know and will also know how long it’s been seasoned. Seasoned firewood should have been sitting for at least six months. Any less than that is considered green wood and is not ideal for burning. Hardware stores like Brinkmann’s can answer all of your questions and are often a great choice for a steady supply of seasoned wood. 

Smaller Amounts

You can often find smaller amounts of wood at Brinkmann’s, gas stations, or even the supermarket. When buying firewood like this make sure you unwrap them from their plastic and be sure the wood is dry before burning. Wet wood is not optimal, so you may want to wait until the moisture content evaporates before using it to get the best results.