Wood for burning in a wood stove must be “dry” to burn with maximum efficiency. “Dry” means the wood must be aged, so it is not “green” and also not “wet” from rainwater. When a tree is cut down, the wood is “green,” or saturated with water through the normal capillary action needed to keep the tree alive. Depending upon the exact tree specie, it can take well over six months of normal storage for the wood to “season” and no longer be “green.” If you harvest your firewood in late summer or early fall, you can cheat and speed up the seasoning process. I am assuming you use a stick for measuring* where to cut, so all the pieces are the same length and therefore will stack reasonably well in a single row.
The quickest way to season firewood is to stack it in a single row along a fence, if possible, and slightly lower than the height of the fence. At that point, clear plastic sheeting, 4 mil thickness recommended, can be draped over the fence and the firewood. To keep the plastic tarp from blowing off, place a piece of lead or a smooth rock on the edge of the tarp, roll the tarp over the rock, then tie the tarp beneath the rock with heavy twine. Repeat every 4 feet and at the corners. The smooth folds of the tarp will prevent if from tearing, while the weight of the rock or lead ingot will keep the plastic sheet from blowing away. The plastic sheet need only cover the top of the wood stack and down to a foot or so off the ground. The sun heats the wood, condensation form upward against the plastic sheet, then drains down the side.
What you have done is create a miniature greenhouse! The fence keeps the tarp above the wood, and being draped over the fence, it does not touch the wood on that side. The heat of the sun is trapped by the plastic tarp, the wood heats up, and natural condensation forms on the plastic tarp, draining moisture away from the wood beneath it. With this method, it is possible to dry “green” wood into a burnable condition within only 4 to 6 weeks, and it will be ready for use in the winter. The firewood may then be stacked for storage and use.
A “CORD” Of Wood:
A “cord” of wood is 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long, or 128 cubic feet. A stack of 16” wood 4 feet high and 8 feet long is 1/3rd of a cord, and is also called a “face cord.” It takes three “face cords” to equal a cord of wood. Therefore, a stack of 16” pieces of wood stacked 4 feet high and 24 feet along a fence is a whole cord. If loosely stacked, 18” lengths of wood also can add up to 1/3rd of a cord, as the “volume” is deceptive because the wood can be stacked loosely.
If you have wood delivered “by the cord” make sure it is stacked up, not just dumped in a pile, or you may well find that your delivery is NOT a whole cord of wood – what you paid for.
Freshly cut green wood is very heavy, If you order wood delivered and it comes in the back of a 3/4th ton pickup, you are NOT getting a whole cord of wood, period. The truck cannot carry that much weight safely (3,000 to 5,000 pounds), nor can it hold the volume of a cord. A standard long pickup bed is 8 feed in length, 5 feet in width, and less than 2 feet in height. That is 80 cubic feet of wood, not the 128 cubic feet in a whole cord. Even if the wood is stached up higher on the pickup bed, say to an average of 3 feet high, it is still less than a cord, and the weight would have the bed of the pickup right down on the rear axle with the front end almost off the ground – very unsafe driving conditions.
Firewood should be stacked off the ground so air can pass beneath it, or the bottom layers will stay wet and moldy. It is relatively simple to lay down long, straight branches, and stack the wood on them – just be sure the branches ) or old 2 x 4’s, whatever is available) are parallel to the stack and near the outer sides of each row or rick.. in other words, about 15 inches apart. That way, the stacks will still be stable.
The entire stack of firewood may then be covered with a tarp to keep it dry. Lashing a tarp over a stack of firewood does not work well, as wind will enter somewhere and tear the tarp. Weights tied to the grommets on the tarp will work vastly better.
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SPECIES MILLION BTU/CORD* CORD WEIGHT (pounds)** DRY CORD WEIGHT (pounds)** GREEN