Be in the know when buying firewood

By Belinda M. Paschal -

MIAMI COUNTY — With temperatures dipping into the teens and single digits, many people are looking to firewood to help heat their homes.

“There’s a percentage of people trying to cut costs, as well as a lot of people who grew up with wood-burning stoves continuing the tradition,” said Jim Metz, a Level II instructor of Environmental Occupations at the Upper Valley Career Center. “It’s a fairly inexpensive way to heat your home.”

Metz emphasized the importance of knowing a few things about what you’re getting before you throw a log on the fire.

“Quality wood is not pine or soft woods. It needs to be hardwoods,” he said. “Ash, oak, maple, hickory and osage are all good quality firewood.”

Metz said much of the firewood he is seeing being sold is ash, primarily because of the number of trees killed by emerald ash borers. “It’s a good quality hardwood that burns well and there’s an abundant supply,” he said.

Additionally, it’s best to buy seasoned wood — that is, wood that has been down three to six months, Metz added.

Firewood is often sold by the cord or half-cord. A cord is 8 feet long by 4 feet high and 4 feet high. Metz said he usually sees it sold as a face cord, which is 16 feet long by 4 feet high by 2 feet wide — one-third the volume of a full cord.

The cost per cord covers a wide spectrum, Metz said, with a “good average” being in the range of $100 to $120 for self-pickups and $140 for delivery.

“When you get up around $150 for pickup and $175 for delivery, it’s starting to be a little pricy,” he explained.

“Always go to someone reputable and see what you’re getting. Don’t do it over the phone,” Metz cautioned. “Go look at what you’re getting so you know the quality of the wood and the amount you want. Most people cannot put a cord of wood in a standard pickup truck. If you pick it up yourself and it fits, you’re probably not getting a full cord.”

The following firewood rules and regulations from the Ohio Department of Agriculture are helpful to review before making purchases:

• If sold in bulk, firewood must be purchased by the weight in ton measurements. This must be weighed on a certified scale.

• It is illegal to sell firewood by any other unit of measurement such as a rick, rack, face cord or truckload. If a consumer believes that a seller did not comply with these rules and regulations, the person should immediately contact the seller.

• If non-packaged firewood is purchased, the seller must present the consumer with a delivery ticket or sales invoice that includes contact information and the terms and conditions of the sale.

• If the firewood is advertised and sold as a certain type of wood, the load must contain at least 90 percent of that species.

• Be aware of different firewood movement regulations in place concerning invasive species such as gypsy moth and Asian longhorned beetle. It is always good practice to not move firewood long distances and to buy local and burn local.

• When burning firewood for heat, the State Fire Marshal advises to follow all necessary safety practices to avoid any serious problems.

If you have questions or concerns with a firewood sale, and the seller will not correct the problem, contact the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Division of Weights and Measures at (614) 728-6290 or contact your county auditor’s office.

By Belinda M. Paschal

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341

Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341