Long Island Firewood

Dec 21, 2008

Long Island Firewood

Where has the all Good Firewood Gone?

More and more people ask me, "What happened to the firewood supply on Long Island?" There are many factors that lead to the 2008 shortage of quality Long Island firewood, but very simply it is a classic case of supply and demand. With many L.I. homeowners buying wood stoves and fireplace inserts this past year and less trees being made available for firewood, the firewood shortage was inevitable.

These basic facts have contributed to the shortage:

  • $140 / barrel oil in June 2008 lead to a sharp increase in wood stove sales
  • the economic slow down has caused less land clearing
  • homeowners have been keeping downed trees
  • November & December 2008 have been colder than 2007
  • early 2008 firewood production costs were high due to oil prices
  • the "Go Green" philosophy is catching on
  • buyers wait too long to purchase their wood

Oil Prices Skyrocketed in the Summer

In June of 2008 oil hit $140 per barrel. The steep increase caused concern among homeowners for the upcoming 2008-2009 Winter heating season. Local wood stove installers were swamped with requests for new wood stoves & fireplace inserts. There's no documented statistics but I would estimate as much as a 25% to 35% increase in Long Island homeowners using wood stoves as supplemental heat.

The 2008 U.S. Economy Falters

There's no secret that the U.S. is currently experiencing a historical economic recession. The slow down started with the housing market and credit crisis trickled down to every aspect of the U.S. economy. Firewood comes from trees that are made available to firewood producers. There has been a severe decrease in quality trees made available due to the decrease in building, land clearing, landscaping and other tree producing projects.

Homeowners Keep Downed Trees

One of the main sources of local Long Island firewood comes from residential tree services. I know many tree services and their reports for the 2008 season were not good. They saw a sharp decline in tree removals and more homeowners were deciding to keep the trees. In the past tree companies would charge to take the trees away and then turn them into firewood. This year more homeowners had the trees blocked out and kept them to split into their own firewood supply.

2008 November & December Temperatures

Although the temperatures for the 2008-2009 season have not been dramatically cold they have been colder than November and December 2007. We have already had 2 snow/ice events and numerous nights below 32 degrees. Last year's warm temperatures may have lulled Long Islanders into thinking this year would be the same, unfortunately it has been much colder and so more firewood has been consumed.

2008 Production Costs Were High

Long Island firewood is produced during the Spring and early Summer (at least it should be). The 2008 production costs this year were high due to the price of oil. Firewood is very heavy and needs to be transported. The trucks and processing equipment use oil products. The high oil prices enticed some firewood producers to continue producing while others saw the production costs too high to risk turning a profit. Some producers decided not to produce or cut back production to avoid taking losses.

Go Green

We all like to make choices to help the environment. The recent "Go Green" philosophy has been more popular than ever. With the U.S. dependency on foreign oil becoming more fragile, homeowners have looked for viable energy alternatives. Wood heat is an established renewable energy source that has gained more popularity over the past few years. Many homeowners has increased their past firewood consumption, while new consumers are added to the market regularly.

Don't Wait Until the Last Minute

Buying firewood during the Winter leaves the purchaser at risk of securing quality wood at a fair price. Firewood must be seasoned for a long period of time. It is not an on demand product. Once the supply is depleted there are very few options left (unless you buy Kiln Dried firewood). If you wait until the weather is cold you may find their are very few firewood suppliers with quality wood available.

and Finally.......

Although no one can predict the future it is safe to say the "Perfect Storm" conditions that created the 2008 Long Island Firewood shortage may form again in the future. As a firewood producer I know that I can only produce so much firewood every year. As a firewood consumer you should be educated about firewood and diligent in securing your supply early in the season. Buying firewood during the Winter always leaves the possibility of encountering shortages, poor quality wood and higher prices. Be sure you deal with someone reputable that will be there every year to help keep you and your family warm.

We're here with quality KILN DRIED firewood all season long at:


Dec 10, 2008

How Much Firewood is in a Cord?

The only legal measurement for the sale of firewood is the CORD.
It is defined as: " a loosely stacked pile of split firewood measuring 4 feet high by 8 feet long by 4 feet wide." Overall the cubic volume is 128 cubic feet. This is calculated by multiplying the length x width x height.

Although the cord is a defined measurement it is open to interpretation. This can make it difficult to estimate the volume of firewood, especially if it is unstacked.

Here are a few things to remember:

  • the length of logs vary

  • the diameter of logs will affect the stacking

  • loose wood is 30% to 40% more volume

  • wet wood can take up to 15% more volume

  • 2 x 4 x 16 is also a cord

The Perfect Log Would be 14 Inches Long

The length of the logs will vary with most firewood. If they were a uniform 14" then a loose stack of three rows would equal 4 feet (with spacing). This is rare. Most wood varies and if it is more than 16" your cord will be two rows wide. The seller should make up for this by adding length and height to the cord, but in many cases they will just loosely space the two rows to equal approximately 4 feet in width. Technically a cord that is two logs wide should have 22" logs to equal 4 feet (with space in between). If that were true the logs would be too large for most fireplaces and stoves.

Not All Logs are the Same in Diameter

The diameter of the logs will also affect the stacking. Smaller diameter logs can be stacked more tightly, while large diameter logs will stack looser. A good mix of each will insure a truly measured cord, while too much of either size will vary the results.

A Pile is Much Less Than a Stack

A random PILE of firewood that is 4 feet x 8 feet x 4 feet does not equal a STACK of the same dimensions. Unstacked firewood takes 30% to 40% more room than the same wood stacked. A round pile can be very deceiving compared to a uniform stack. Stacking is the only true way to measure, otherwise you're counting air instead of firewood.

Wet Wood is Larger Than Dry Wood

Most people do not realize wet wood takes up more room than dry wood. It's just common sense. When the water evaporates, the wood shrinks. In some species this can be as much as 15%. If you don't believe it than just look at building lumber. Does anyone use wet lumber? No, because it shrinks when it dries. If you buy a wet cord you will have less than the same measured dry cord.

128 Cubic Feet Has a Lot of Possibilities

The defined cord is 4 feet x 8 feet x 4 feet. The magic number here is the 128 you get by multiplying the three measurements. The following also equal a cord:

2 x 4 x 16

2 x 8 x 8

1 x 4 x 32

1 x 1 x 128

Get the idea ?!

Still Not Sure What a Cord is?

If you're still confused about the size of a cord of firewood, you're not alone. Many sellers don't know either. There's a lot of room for error when you consider the average hardwood firewood cord weighs over 2 tons and contains 800 to 1000 pieces. Stacking it takes a lot of time but is the only true way to measure a cord. Be sure you have your firewood stacked unless you've got a really good eye. Most times cord deliveries aren't over, they're under.

Dec 4, 2008

Firewood For Sale - Which Should You Buy?

Buying firewood can be very confusing. These basic tips will insure you purchase quality firewood and get your money's worth:
  • always buy from a reputable supplier
  • ask the right questions before buying
  • inspect the firewood at the source before purchasing
  • be home for the delivery and inspect the wood before accepting
  • be sure to get a detailed receipt

The Seller's Reputation Counts

The firewood business is widely unregulated. Sellers come and go. That leaves the buyer with very little protection. Make sure you buy from a supplier that is established and reputable. Ask a friend or neighbor if they were happy with their wood. Compare recent purchases only. Wood varies greatly throughout the year, especially in the busy Fall and Winter months.

Do You Know What Questions to Ask?

If the seller knows you are knowledgeable you will most likely get a fair deal. Start by asking some basic questions to get a feel for the quality of the firewood as well as the seller's integrity:

What type of wood will my delivery be?
Only buy hardwoods. On Long Island that will be mainly Oak and Maple.

What is the price for a cord?
By law the cord is the only legal measurement for selling firewood. Loosely stacked a cord measures (4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.) = 128 cubic feet. DO NOT BUY A PILE, TRUCK LOAD, FACE CORD or other vague amount. Any marketed quantity should include a cubic foot or log count estimate.

How long has the wood been seasoned after being split?
Split hardwood takes over a year to season correctly in the humid conditions of Long Island. Firewood does not begin seasoning until split.
Cut trees & logs DO NOT SEASON.

What is the moisture content of your firewood?
This is a question suppliers love to avoid. The correct moisture content for air dried firewood is 30% or less. If the answer you receive is "it varies" or "I'll have to check", then tell them you'll have your own moisture meter to test the load and will refuse delivery if it is more than 30%. If you really want to be safe have the seller include the moisture content on the receipt.

There are many more questions to ask, but the few listed above are the most important and will signal to the seller that you know what you are talking about.

Go to the Source & Inspect Prior to Purchasing

It amazes me how many people buy firewood completely blind. Would you buy anything for a few hundred dollars without seeing it first? Then why would you do that with firewood? You can't return a few tons of wood so you'd better inspect it beforehand. Look for generally organized and clean conditions. The wood should not be lying in a moist area or be out of the sun & wind. Good firewood should be kept dry and in the direct sun and prevailing winds. Any signs of dirty conditions will probably mean your wood will be the same. Clean conditions will lead to clean wood that you'll be happy to bring into your home.

Schedule Delivery When You Will Be Home

When the delivery truck comes to your house, go outside and meet the driver. Not only will you save him some trouble but be sure to ask to examine the wood before it is unloaded. Do not accept the firewood if you feel the wood is not up to your standards. Once it is dropped, you are obligated to buy it. While the truck is full you have the upper hand to speak with the boss and refuse delivery. I guarantee you they do not want that truck coming back full.

By Law You Must Be Provided a Receipt

A written receipt is required for firewood sales in NYS. It should contain a description of the wood that includes the type of wood, quantity and price. Of course many suppliers like to deal in cash, but pay the extra sales tax to protect your purchase. Without a receipt you have no recourse.

and Finally......

To enjoy your fireplace or wood stove this Winter be sure to make educated choices when purchasing your firewood. Buying firewood during the Summer or early Fall will guarantee the lowest prices, best quality and plenty of time to season the wood further. Waiting until the Winter to purchase wood is like buying an air conditioner in July - the selection will be the lowest and the prices will be the highest.

We're here with quality KILN DRIED firewood all season long at:



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