The world of firewood can be confusing – but it doesn’t have to be. From cooking to heating your home, firewood is an important resource to have. To help you choose from the wide range of species and wood volumes we carry, here are a few simple answers to our most commonly asked questions.
Cord? Rick? Truckload? There are many terms thrown around in the firewood industry, but only a Cord is legally defined in the state of Texas. Here at Woodchuck, we only sell our wood in face cord increments. A full cord of wood is 128 cubic feet, meaning we stack our cords 4 feet tall by 16 feet wide. A half cord is 4 feet tall by 8 feet wide, and a quarter cord is 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. For our customers needing a little less, we also supply eighth cords, which are 2 feet tall by 4 feet wide. So whether you’re stocking up for the winter or planning a weekend camping trip, Woodchuck has you covered.
Proper moisture content is the key to a nice burn. When firewood has more than a 50% moisture content, it’s called green wood. Green wood is typically freshly cut and has not been allotted the proper amount of time to dry out. Due to this, it is more difficult to light, smokier, and increases the chance of your fire going out. The seasoned wood that we sell has a sweet spot moisture content of 15-20%. Here at Woodchuck, we let our wood naturally season in the elements for at least 6 months, giving time for the sun and the wind to dry the wood. Because of its lower moisture content, seasoned wood will catch easier and burn hotter than green wood. However, there is such a thing as too dry, as wood with an extremely low moisture content will turn to ash quicker, making you burn through more of your supply. When we source our firewood, we make sure to only bring you wood with the perfect amount of moisture, so that no matter the purpose, your wood will last.
Most of the firewood for sale at the grocery store or at gas stations has been kiln dried. Kiln dried wood has been split and placed in a large kiln to dry for the USDA minimum of a few hours to even a few days, depending on the manufacturer. Due to the inconsistencies in kiln drying, the moisture content of kiln dried wood can be as high as 25%, or as low as 6%. There’s no right or wrong way to stoke your fire, but in our opinion, naturally seasoned wood is the way to go. Many BBQ enthusiasts turn up their nose at kiln dried wood, due to the fact that it leaves much less flavor than its seasoned counterparts. Naturally seasoning wood is also better for the environment, as it is a natural process that requires no gas or electricity. Depending on the climate, firewood can take up to a year to season naturally. Because it dries out slower, it keeps much of its natural resins that retain the natural flavor and aroma of the wood species. It may take longer to season our firewood, but it’s worth it!
There are certain qualities that make some woods better for burning than others due to their cellular structure. These woods can be placed into two basic categories: softwoods and hardwoods. Softwoods are called such because they are less dense and, by definition, not as hard as hardwoods. Softwoods are more resinous, burn easier, and go out faster than hardwoods. This may sound nice on paper, but softwoods are not ideal for starting long lasting campfires or for heating one’s home.
When measuring the thermal quality of wood, the standard unit is the BTU, or British Thermal Unit. Softwoods have a lower potential BTU, causing the wood to burn out quickly, producing a lot of ash and smoke. Some examples of softwoods are spruce, pine, and juniper – all of which have needle shaped leaves. If you are going to use softwood, stick to using it as kindling to get your fire going. Hardwoods have a higher BTU potential than softwoods, meaning that you will get more heat for a longer period of time. Hardwoods are very dense, which allows them to burn longer than softwood. This type of firewood also creates a lot of coals without a ton of smoke or sparks, making it a perfect choice for woodburning stoves or fireplaces. Hardwoods are the ideal choice when cooking, producing a steady amount of heat over a long period of time. Some examples of popular hardwoods are oak, mesquite, hickory, and pecan. Our most popular wood at Woodchuck Delivery is post oak, a hardwood that is ideal not only for starting fires but is also the preferred wood for the majority of our restaurant clientele. However, we also carry other specialty woods such as pecan, mesquite, hickory, and more.
Properly storing your firewood will help keep it in optimal burning condition. If you are placing your firewood directly onto the ground, try keeping it on a concrete slab or the pavement, as constant contact with soil can contribute to quicker rot time. Ideally, you will want to keep your wood elevated off ofthe ground. A great way to do this is by building or purchasing a firewood rack, which also helps keep your wood neat and organized. If you plan on keeping your wood outdoors, consider throwing a tarp over it to protect it from wet weather. You could also store the wood indoors, either in a firewood shed or garage which will also keep unwanted moisture and pests away.