So, you’ve decided to cozy up to the warmth of a wood stove this winter, but you’re wary of the process of buying firewood. It’s a valid concern. With the increasing demand for firewood, some unscrupulous vendors might take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. But, armed with the right knowledge, you can avoid getting the short end of the stick… Literally! Let’s get into it…
Before you embark on quickly purchasing firewood for yourself, tap into the knowledge of friends and family who already burn wood. Ask who they go to and trust for a cord of wood. Their experiences and connections can offer valuable insights and will save you from a costly mistake. Plus, this is the most common way credible wood venders get new clientele. So, if you are referred by a friend, there’s a strong chance you won’t get ripped off because that would be two customers the vendor loses. Just make sure to name drop if the vendor doesn’t know how you contacted them. Great way to start the relationship.
If being referred is not an option and you begin exploring online vendors, look for reviews or testimonials from past customers. Be wary of overly negative or positive reviews, a mix of opinions often indicates genuineness.
Physical Address and Contact Details: A genuine vendor will typically have a physical address and reachable contact details. They also will have a greater propensity of speaking with you, messaging back on socials and answering your questions (questions to ask are in the next section). Oftentimes scammers will be short, direct and push toward your payment. If you sniff that in your communications, politely part ways.
Secure Payment Options: If you’re buying online, ensure the website uses security. Look for “https://” at the start of the web address. Look for the payment options and what’s included as far as services with them. Or clarify with them when you speak with them. If the vendor only wants to do a money transfer, that is a red flag. Especially if they want it seemingly ‘too soon’.
Many reputable dealers will deal in cash, which can be a red flag at first. But if they have clear communication, are willing to answer your questions and people you know have gone through them, then great! Because, in many cases, this is a ‘side gig’ in the winter for people. Which shows that they work hard. So cash shouldn’t always be a red flag.
Transparency: A legit vendor will be transparent about their sourcing, seasoning process, and wood types. Also, with who else they service/work with. Then if you still think they may be a scammer, you can simply contact some others they sold wood to. Scammers don’t like talking much usually, and wouldn’t want to answer questions that may expose them. You’ll quickly pick up on that…
The crackling fire awaits you…
Type of Wood: Different woods have different burn qualities. Ask what type of wood they’re selling. Hardwoods like oak and maple burn hotter and longer, while softwoods like pine tend to ignite quickly but burn faster.
Seasoning Process: Ideally, firewood should be seasoned (dried) for at least six months to a year. This process reduces the moisture content, ensuring a cleaner, hotter burn. Ask the vendor about their seasoning process and the condition of the wood they are selling. Such as the current moisture content. More on that below…
Volume and Price: Understand the measurements. Firewood is typically sold by the cord (128 cubic feet). Make sure you’re getting a full cord or understand the price ratio if it’s less.
Delivery and Stacking: Some vendors might offer delivery and stacking services. Which is super handy! Just make sure to clarify any associated costs upfront.
For the best burn, wood should have a moisture content of around 15-20%. Anything higher will result in less efficient burning and more creosote buildup in your chimney. And if it is above 40%, it is considered ‘green’ and simply will not burn.
This is where a Moisture Meter would come in handy. Before you think of this as overkill, consider it a small investment in ensuring quality. A moisture meter is a handheld device that gauges the moisture level of firewood. Insert the probes into a split piece of wood, and it’ll give a reading. It’s a simple way to verify a seller’s claims and not end up with wood that is useless to you.
“How about buying in advance?” Good question. If you’re planning ahead and want to buy unseasoned wood for a cheaper price, aim for wood with a moisture content of 35-50%. This gives you enough time to season it yourself.
Store wood off the ground using pallets or logs to avoid moisture absorption and pests.
Wood needs airflow to continue drying out. Use a tarp or woodshed roof to protect the top from rain and snow, but keep the sides open for air circulation.
Ideally, stack the wood in a direction where it can get some sunlight. This helps in the drying process.
Buying firewood shouldn’t be daunting or risky. By understanding what to look for, where to look, and the right questions to ask, you can ensure a steady, warm supply of quality firewood throughout the winter.
If ever in doubt, remember to lean on the experiences of others. Friends, family, or even your local fireplace shop can be invaluable resources in your firewood journey. Till next time!
Hope this helped!
Chimney Techniques, The favorite Aberdeen fireplace shop
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