How Much is a Cord of Wood? & More Firewood Facts.

In this article, we address multiple aspects related to the question of "How much is a cord of wood?" by providing information on two different interpretations - the cost of firewood and the physical dimensions of various cords of firewood. Our explanation includes details on the types of wood and their characteristics such as seasoned vs. semi-seasoned. Additionally, we delve into various other relevant topics on the subject.

The topic of firewood is the central focus of this article, as it remains a crucial commodity for millions of people worldwide who have been utilizing its energy for thousands of years. The article was created due to the high demand for reliable information online, as the calculation of a cord of wood can be unclear and lead to disputes between buyers and sellers. Despite the significant role that firewood has played in the development of societies, coherence on the subject remains a challenge. The aim of this article is to clarify this topic and provide a comprehensive understanding of it.

How Much is A Cord of Wood? Metric vs Imperial

1st Question: What is the volume of a cord of wood?

Cord of Wood : A tidy, compact stack of wood that fits within these dimensions:

  • Imperial : Width = 8 ft. x Height = 4 ft. x Depth= 4 ft. (128 cubic feet)
  • Metric : W = 122 cm x H = 244 cm x D 122 cm (3.62 m3)

A cord of wood refers to a full stack of wood pieces that are arranged in a manner such that they are aligned, parallel, touching, and compact, fitting into a space that measures 4 feet in height, 4 feet in width, and 8 feet in length. This arrangement occupies a volume equivalent to 128 cubic feet (3.62 m3).

Hence, the answer to the question of how many square feet are in a cord of wood is 128 sq.ft. However, the actual wood volume is closer to 90 cubic feet because of the air pockets present in between the pieces of firewood.

A half cord of wood is equivalent to 4' x 4' x 4', which amounts to 64 cubic feet of wood.

To provide a better understanding of the size of a cord of wood, consider the following:

A full cord of wood can weigh between 2,500 lbs (softwood) to 5,000 lbs (hardwood). A standard piece of firewood measures 16 inches (1/3 of a cord width). A small pick-up truck can carry approximately 1/4 cord of wood. A 1/2 ton short bed pick-up truck can carry approximately 1/2 cord of wood. A long bed pick-up truck with racks can transport approximately 1 cord of wood.

*The Canadian government is suggesting the elimination of the term 'cord of wood' and adopting the term "stacked cubic metre" instead, as it offers a more precise description of the product being purchased. The term "face cord" is considered meaningless, but is still frequently used, along with other vague terms such as "rick cord," "stove cord," "standing cord," etc., leading to confusion among buyers.*

Average Cost of A Cord of Wood:

I go through this number in detail later in the article...

2nd QuestionWhat is the cost of a cord of wood in the US?

  • Average cost of a cord of wood = $296 USD

How Big is A Cord of Wood : Measurement Facts

To be considered a full cord of wood, the measurement must be taken when the firewood is "ranked and well stowed," indicating that the logs are arranged in an orderly manner, tightly and neatly parallel to each other, with minimal gaps between them. If the measurement equates to 128 cubic feet, then it meets the legal requirement for a full cord of wood.

  1. Height = 4 feet (122 cm) 
  2. Width = 8 feet (244 cm)
  3. Depth = 4 feet (122 cm)
  4. Volume = 128 cu.ft. (3.62 m3)

Hardwood vs Softwood

*Attributes of Hardwood*

Angiosperms, a class of flowering plants, comprise hardwoods. Hardwood possesses high density and a higher heat capacity (BTU) per pound, which makes it a more cost-effective option for heating. These trees are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves for a portion of the year. Some typical hardwood species include beech, elm, maple, aspen, and birch.

*Attributes of Softwood*

Softwood firewood is obtained from evergreen and conifer trees. Some examples of softwood species are spruce, pine, sweetgum, willow, and cedar. Although softwood generates similar heat per pound as hardwood, it produces less heat per volume of wood.

🔹Learn More about Trees : Read this — 📖 Characteristics and Availability of Commercially Important Woods : From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Firewood Moisture Levels

I recently spent hours updating an article on selecting the best firewood moisture meter, and this section on moisture levels is a direct outcome of that effort. Moisture content plays a significant role in firewood quality and the type of heat it produces. If the wood makes popping sounds while burning, it indicates excessive moisture content.

Newly felled trees typically have an average moisture content of around 52%. It can take anywhere from one to two years for the wood to "air-dry" and achieve a moisture content below 20%, which is considered "seasoned" firewood. Hardwoods, such as oak, take longer to dry out than softwoods due to their higher density.

Seasoned Firewood:
Typically, it takes a minimum of 8 months to achieve a moisture content of less than 20% and become "seasoned." The ideal moisture level for wood is around 15%. However, hardwoods require a longer period of time and can take up to 2 years to fully season, with a minimum of 12 months.
Green Firewood:

On average, freshly cut wood contains a moisture content of approximately 52%. However, this percentage can go as high as 120%, which means that the total weight of the moisture in the wood is more than the weight of the wood itself.

Kiln-Dried Firewood:

Split oak firewood in (14″ to l8″ L) can be kiln-dried from 52% – 20% (moisture) in : 260 / 90 / 30 hours, at 140 / 180 / 220 °F (respectively)

The Truth about Firewood:

Homeowners worldwide rely on firewood as a primary source of heating throughout the year. The cost of firewood is subject to fluctuations from year to year, and several factors influence the price of a cord of wood. Unlike a product such as an Apple iPhone, there is no fixed cost for firewood.

The quality and variety of wood available differ from state to state, with each region having its own species of wood and market conditions. Firewood is a commodity that, like oil, experiences value fluctuations in the market. However, we can provide guidelines and information to aid in making an informed purchasing decision.

This article aims to address the most commonly asked questions homeowners have regarding firewood.

It's a known fact that firewood uses "cord" as a unit of measurement, with origins dating back to around 1610, when wood was sold in bundles and tied with a cord. However, due to physical limitations, a cord was smaller back then compared to today's standards.

Over three billion people worldwide rely on firewood as a way of life.