The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is offering advice to consumers when purchasing firewood this winter. When purchasing firewood, consumers need to take into consideration a variety of factors including the type of wood, its origin and the quantity.
“Firewood can be purchased almost anywhere and in many varieties,” said Tim Phelps, Information and Education Specialist with the department’s Division of Forestry. “Consumers should educate themselves to make sure they get the best product for their money.”
The first factor to consider while purchasing firewood is the type of wood because different woods burn differently and produce varying amounts of heat. For example, oak burns slower and produces less smoke while pine burns faster and produces more soot and smoke. Educate yourself about the type of wood that will best serve your needs.
After deciding on the type of wood, be sure to ask retailers about the seasoning of the wood. Seasoning is the process of drying wood. Firewood typically takes nine months to become seasoned. Burning wood that has not been dried out properly or seasoned will produce less heat, burn poorly and create unnecessary soot and smoke.
Another factor to take into consideration when purchasing wood is the origin of the wood. This is important because buying wood from other states may transport invasive exotic insects into Tennessee. Consumers can help avoid potential problems by purchasing locally harvested firewood within a 50-mile radius of their home.
“The Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer are two examples of insects that have devastated many native hardwood trees in the U.S. as a result of the transportation of infested wood products,” said Phelps. “So far these insects have not been detected in Tennessee. We’re asking consumers to help us keep it that way.”
The last factor to consider when buying firewood is the quantity. Firewood has its own unit of measurement called a cord. Firewood must be sold by the cord or fractions of a cord starting at 1/8 of a cord. A cord of wood by law must equal 128 cubic feet. Be wary of terms such as face cord, rack, rick, tier, pile or truck-load, as these terms are not standardized in the sale of firewood. Some firewood dealers also try to sell firewood by the truckload. A pick-up truck cannot hold a cord of firewood. Rest assured, when purchasing firewood at brand retailers, there are established labeling protocols for firewood.
If consumers follow these tips, they can feel good that they purchased a local, worthy product that will keep them warm throughout the winter months.