Buying and Selling Firewood

By Duane Friend

You see the ads in the newspaper, along roadsides and just about everywhere else at this time of year: FIREWOOD FOR SALE.

Knowing where your firewood comes from can keep you from making some costly mistakes. The University of Illinois Extension’s Firewood in Illinois website, , provides information on buying and selling firewood, managing woodlots, chainsaw safety, Emerald Ash Borer information, and types of wood burning appliances.

A few tips for people who are in the market for firewood:

  • Ask the seller where the wood came from, and what kind of wood it is. If possible, buy locally sourced wood. Oak, hickory and ash are some of the best firewoods. All woods produce the same amount of heat per pound of weight, but some woods are denser than others – and the denser woods provide more heat by volume.
  • Find out how long the wood has been allowed to dry. Firewood should be seasoned for six to nine months prior to burning, to remove moisture that sacrifices energy and produces smoke. Small cracks in the ends of the wood pieces are a sign that the wood has been seasoned.


It is easier to start a fire with some types of wood than others, and some woods produce more sparks than others. The Firewood in Illinois website includes a handy chart that shows which woods ignite more readily, the BTU output, and which ones tend to produce a lot of sparks.

A standard cord contains 128 cubic feet of wood. A standard-size pickup truck with wood randomly thrown in to the top of the bed will equal about one-third of a cord. If the wood is neatly stacked, the amount of wood will be closer to one-half of a cord.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid buying a truckload of locally sourced wood that isn’t a full cord. You just need to understand what you’re buying.

Source: Duane Friend, Extension Educator, Environmental and Energy Stewardship,

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About the author

Duane is an Educator with University of Illinois Extension in the Calhoun/Cass/Greene/Morgan/Scott unit.

View all articles by Duane Friend

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