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Cordwood is the traditional wood burning fuel and remains the ideal fuel for many homeowners today. Seasoned and burned responsibly, cordwood can be an affordable and efficient fuel source for either primary or secondary heating.

A “cord” of wood is a stack of split wood measuring 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet. Cordwood needs to be split to an appropriate size and stacked up off the ground for 6-12 months to “season” before being burned. To dry effectively, it’s important that your wood pile have access to lots of air flow. Pick a sunny spot and keep the top of the pile covered with a tarp or tin while allowing air to access the sides.

There are plenty of free creative designs for wood sheds available online as well, just make sure to pick one that will allow for plenty of air flow.

Firewood dealers sell cord wood that is green, seasoned, dried, or kiln dried. There is some subjectivity to these terms but the general definitions are:

  • Green – Freshly cut, could be anywhere from one day to a couple months old. This is the least expensive option and should be purchased and stacked one full year before you intend to burn it.
  • Seasoned – It has been one spring or one summer since it was cut and split. Seasoned wood is not likely ready to be burned immediately, but would be ready sooner than green wood.
  • Dry wood – This wood should be ready to burn immediately. It has been fully seasoned outdoors and now has a moisture level of 20% or less.
  • Kiln dried wood – This wood could have been cut at any time, but has been dried in a kiln to bring its moisture level down. It is ready to burn immediately. This is the most expensive option.

Cordwood should be burned when its water content has dropped to 15-20%. An inexpensive moisture meter can provide this reading, or you can look for other signs of dryness such as cracking on the ends of the logs and a hollow sound when two are knocked together. Green wood is not only more difficult to burn, but also very bad for air quality and the safety of your stove and chimney