How Long Does a Cord of Firewood Last: Understanding Firewood Usage and Storage

As winter arrives, it’s time to prepare for the chilly weather. One of the essential items for winter is firewood, which is used to keep your home warm and cozy. Have you ever wondered how long a cord of firewood lasts? Well, you are not alone. Many homeowners are curious about this, and it’s crucial to know the answer if you plan to purchase firewood for the winter season.

A cord of firewood is a standard measure of firewood, equal to 128 cubic feet of wood. One cord of firewood is usually stacked in a pile that is 4 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and 8 feet long. The length of time that a cord of firewood lasts depends on several factors, including the type of wood, moisture content, and burning conditions. Some wood species, such as oak and maple, burn longer and hotter than others, making them a better choice for heating purposes.

To determine how long a cord of firewood will last, it’s essential to consider these factors carefully. If you are unsure about the best firewood for your needs or how to store it properly, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional. With the right preparation, you can enjoy a warm and cozy winter season, knowing that your firewood will last for as long as possible. So, make sure to do your research and find high-quality firewood that will meet your heating needs.

Factors affecting the burn time of a cord of firewood

One of the primary considerations when buying firewood is how long it will last. The burn time of a cord of firewood can vary based on several factors, including:

  • The type of wood: Different species of trees have varying densities and moisture levels, which can impact how long they burn. For example, hardwoods like oak and maple tend to burn longer than softwoods like pine or fir.
  • The seasoning of the wood: Firewood that has been properly seasoned (dried) has a lower moisture content, which allows it to burn more efficiently and produce more heat. Freshly cut (or “green”) wood contains more moisture, and will burn less efficiently as a result.
  • The size and shape of the wood: Wood that has been split into smaller pieces will generally burn more quickly than larger logs. Similarly, irregularly shaped pieces may burn less efficiently than uniformly shaped pieces.

The impact of wood type on burn time

As mentioned, the type of wood you use can have a significant impact on how long it will last. This is largely due to differences in density and moisture content between species. Generally speaking, hardwoods like oak, hickory, and maple are denser and have lower moisture content than softwoods like pine or spruce. This means they will burn hotter and longer, and produce less smoke.

For example, a cord of well-seasoned oak might last up to twice as long as a cord of pine. However, purchasing hardwoods typically costs more than softwoods, so it’s important to consider both burn time and cost when making a decision.

The importance of seasoning firewood

The moisture content of firewood is a critical factor in determining how quickly and efficiently it will burn. When wood is first cut, it can contain up to 50% moisture. In this state, it won’t burn well and will produce a lot of smoke.

To make firewood suitable for burning, it needs to be “seasoned” or dried out. This typically involves stacking the wood in a dry, well-ventilated area and allowing it to air-dry for 6-12 months. During this time, the moisture content of the wood will gradually drop to around 20-25%, making it much easier to light and burn. This process can significantly improve the burn time of firewood.

Choosing the right size and shape of firewood

The size and shape of firewood can also impact its burn time. Smaller pieces of wood will burn more quickly than larger logs, so if you want a longer-lasting fire, you’ll want to choose relatively large pieces of firewood. However, keep in mind that larger logs can be more difficult to light and may require more time to establish a good, hot flame.

The shape of the wood can also impact burn time. Round logs will tend to burn longer than irregularly shaped pieces, as they have a more consistent surface area and density. For this reason, many people choose to purchase split firewood rather than whole logs.

Wood species Density (lbs/ft3) Moisture content (%) Burn time (hours/cord)
Oak 45-55 20-25 150-200
Maple 40-50 20-25 150-200
Birch 35-45 25-35 100-150
Pine 25-35 30-40 70-100

This table highlights some common wood species and their associated burn times. Keep in mind that these values can vary based on other factors like seasoning, wood size, and stove efficiency.

Different types of firewood and their burn time

Choosing the right firewood can make a big difference in both the quality and longevity of your fire. Different types of firewood burn differently, with varying levels of heat output and burn time. Here are a few common types of firewood and their burn time:

  • Oak – This type of wood is known for its steady and long-burning qualities. It has a high heat output and can last up to 8 hours in a woodstove or fireplace. Oak is often considered to be the gold standard of firewood due to its reliability and consistency.
  • Maple – Maple is another hardwood that burns nicely and produces consistent heat. It has a burn time of around 6 hours in a woodstove or fireplace. It is also a popular choice for smoking meats due to its sweet and mild flavor.
  • Birch – Birch is a softer hardwood that burns somewhat quickly and produces a bright flame. It has a burn time of around 4 hours in a woodstove or fireplace. Birch is a good choice for kindling or for starting a fire because it is easy to light and produces a lot of heat quickly.

It’s important to note that the burn time of firewood can be affected by a number of factors, including the moisture content of the wood, the type of stove or fireplace being used, and the amount of air flow allowed to reach the fire. In general, hardwoods like oak and maple will burn longer and hotter than softwoods like pine or spruce, which have a shorter burn time and may produce more creosote buildup in your chimney.

One way to accurately measure the burn time of different types of firewood is to use a firewood moisture meter. This handy tool can help you determine the moisture content of your wood, which can affect its ability to burn cleanly and efficiently. You can also keep track of the burn time of different types of wood by recording the start and end times of each fire, and noting any differences in heat output or burn time.

Firewood Type Burn Time
Oak Up to 8 hours
Maple Approximately 6 hours
Birch Approximately 4 hours

Overall, the type of firewood you choose can have a big impact on your wood-burning experience. By selecting the right firewood for your needs and keeping an eye on the burn time and heat output of different types of wood, you can ensure a warm, cozy fire all winter long.

How to Properly Store Firewood to Increase its Lifespan

One of the most important factors in making firewood last longer is how it is stored. Proper storage can make a big difference in the longevity and quality of your firewood. Here are some tips on how to properly store firewood:

  • Find a dry and well-ventilated area – firewood should be stored in an area that is dry and has good air circulation. Ideally, firewood should be elevated off the ground and stored under a cover to protect it from rain and snow. If it is stored in a damp area, it can develop mold, fungi, and other forms of rot.
  • Stack the wood loosely – stacking firewood loosely allows air to circulate around it, which helps it to dry out and prevents mold and rot from forming. Avoid stacking wood tightly together, as this can trap moisture and increase the chances of fungus growth.
  • Rotate your woodpile – it’s important to rotate your woodpile regularly, as this helps to prevent moisture from accumulating. Moisture can build up over time, particularly on the bottom layers of the pile, so it’s important to move those layers to the top periodically. This will help the wood to dry out evenly.

The Benefits of Properly Stored Firewood

Properly storing your firewood can help it to last longer and burn more efficiently. When firewood is stored correctly, it will have a lower moisture content, which makes it easier to ignite and burns more efficiently. Properly stored firewood will also produce less smoke, which is better for both the environment and your health.

In addition to these benefits, properly stored firewood can also help to prevent insect infestations. Wood-boring insects, such as termites and beetles, are attracted to damp and rotting wood. By storing your firewood properly, you can reduce the risk of infestations and prevent damage to your home.

When to Use Your Stored Firewood

Season Stored Firewood Age Best Uses
Summer/Fall 6-9 months Indoor heating or cooking
Winter 1 year or older Long-lasting heat, outdoor heating, or bonfires

The age of your firewood and the season will play a role in determining the best time to use it. Newer firewood, which has been stored for 6-9 months, is best for indoor heating or cooking. Older firewood, which is 1 year or older, is best for long-lasting heat, outdoor heating, or bonfires.

With these tips in mind, you can ensure that your firewood lasts longer and provides you with the heat and comfort you need. By properly storing your firewood, you can reduce the risk of mold and insect infestations, and ensure that your firewood burns efficiently and produces less smoke.

Cost Comparison of Using Firewood Versus Other Heating Sources

When it comes to heating sources, there are many options available for homeowners. However, the cost of heating can vary greatly depending on the type of fuel used. In this article, we will be focusing on the cost comparison of using firewood versus other heating sources.

  • Electricity: Electric heaters are convenient to use but are the most expensive way to heat a home. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average price for electricity is 12.83 cents per kWh. The cost to heat a home using electricity can be up to three times more than using firewood.
  • Oil: Oil is a common heating source in colder climates. The cost of oil can vary throughout the year, but on average, it costs around $3.00 per gallon. A typical oil furnace burns about a gallon of oil per hour. Therefore, heating a home with oil can be more expensive than using firewood.
  • Natural Gas: Natural gas is a popular heating source due to its convenience and lower cost compared to oil and electricity. The EIA reports that the average price for natural gas is $1.02 per therm. On average, a home will use 100 therms per month, making the monthly cost about $102. However, the cost of natural gas can vary depending on the location and availability of natural gas.

In comparison, the cost of firewood varies depending on the region and species of wood. On average, a cord of firewood costs around $200-$300. A cord of firewood consists of 128 cubic feet of stacked wood, which, if burned efficiently, can heat a home for up to two months depending on the size and insulation of the house.

To put this into perspective, take a look at the table below, which compares the cost of heating a home using different heating sources:

Heating Source Cost Per Month
Electricity $300-$600
Oil $300-$500
Natural Gas $102
Firewood $100-$150

As you can see, although firewood can require more effort and maintenance, it can be a more cost-effective heating option compared to other heating sources. In addition, by using locally sourced firewood instead of relying on non-renewable resources like oil and gas, you can also be helping to reduce your carbon footprint.

Environmental impact of burning firewood

Burning firewood has a significant impact on the environment. Here are five key ways that burning firewood affects the environment:

  • Deforestation: Burning firewood can lead to deforestation since it requires trees to be cut down for fuel. This can lead to a loss of habitat for wildlife and contribute to carbon emissions.
  • Air pollution: When firewood is burned, it emits particles and gases that can be harmful to human health and the environment. This includes carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter.
  • Carbon emissions: Burning firewood releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. It’s important to note that using sustainably sourced firewood can potentially be carbon-neutral, as long as new trees are planted to replace those that were harvested.
  • Water pollution: The ash that is produced when firewood is burned can leach into water sources and cause pollution. This can harm aquatic ecosystems and impact the quality of drinking water.
  • Wildlife habitat: Harvesting firewood can impact the habitats of wildlife, since many animals rely on forests for food and shelter. Cutting down trees for firewood can disrupt these habitats and impact the health of wildlife populations.

It’s important to be mindful of the impact burning firewood can have on the environment. By using sustainably sourced firewood, properly disposing of ash, and taking steps to reduce smoke emissions, we can help mitigate the negative effects of burning firewood.

One way to be more environmentally conscious when using firewood is to choose sustainably sourced firewood. This means that the firewood comes from forests that are managed in a way that encourages regrowth and the sustenance of wildlife habitats. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provides a certification for sustainably sourced firewood. By choosing FSC-certified firewood, you can be sure that the wood comes from a responsibly managed forest.

Type of Wood Heat Output (BTUs per Cord) Burn Time (Hours per Cord)
Oak 24 million 180-200 hours
Hickory 25 million 180-200 hours
Ash 23 million 140-160 hours
Maple 19 million 120-140 hours

It’s important to note that the length of time a cord of firewood lasts can vary depending on several factors, including the type of wood, the moisture content of the wood, and the efficiency of the stove or fireplace. However, by choosing the right type of wood and using it in a responsible and efficient way, we can help reduce the environmental impact of burning firewood.

How to Measure a Cord of Firewood Accurately

One of the most important things to consider when purchasing firewood is knowing how much you are getting for your money. A cord is the standard unit of measurement for firewood, and it’s essential to know how to measure it accurately.

  • The first step is to understand what constitutes a cord. A cord is a stack of wood that measures 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long, totaling 128 cubic feet.
  • When measuring a cord of firewood, it’s important to stack the wood neatly and ensure that there are no gaps or spaces in the stack.
  • Measure the length, width, and height of the stack to confirm that it meets the dimensions of a cord.

Here is a table that shows the different ways to stack firewood to achieve a cord:

Method Dimensions Cubic Feet
Full Cord 4ft x 4ft x 8ft 128
Half Cord 4ft x 4ft x 4ft 64
Face Cord 4ft x 8ft x 16in 42.6

It’s essential to be aware that some firewood sellers may not provide a full, half, or face cord and may instead sell wood by the truckload or other quantities. In such cases, it’s necessary to use basic math skills to calculate how much wood you are getting for your money.

By knowing how to measure a cord of firewood accurately, you are more likely to get the amount of wood you pay for, making it easier to budget for your firewood needs over time.

The Most Efficient Way to Use Firewood for Heating

If you rely on firewood for heating, it’s crucial to use it in the most efficient way possible. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your firewood:

  • Use dry firewood: Wet or green wood takes longer to burn and produces more smoke and creosote buildup, reducing efficiency.
  • Stack wood properly: Stack wood in a way that allows air to circulate between the pieces. This helps the wood dry and burn more efficiently.
  • Use airtight stoves: An airtight stove will allow you to control the airflow and burn the firewood more efficiently. This will also reduce the amount of creosote buildup in your chimney.

When using firewood for heating, it’s essential to understand how much wood you need to last through the season. The amount of time a cord of firewood lasts depends on how much wood you burn each day. A cord of firewood is a stack of wood that’s 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long. Here’s a table that shows how long a cord of firewood will last based on the amount burned per day:

Amount of Wood Burned Per Day Days a Cord Will Last
1/4 cord 128 days
1/2 cord 64 days
1 cord 32 days

It’s important to note that these estimates can vary depending on the size of your home, how well-insulated it is, and the temperature outside. Be sure to monitor your wood usage and adjust accordingly to avoid running out of firewood in the middle of winter.

Common mistakes people make when burning firewood

Although burning firewood may seem like an easy task, there are still a lot of mistakes people make when burning firewood. These mistakes not only waste your time and money but also pose significant risks to your safety and health. If you want to increase the longevity of your firewood and avoid risks, here are some of the most common mistakes you should avoid:

  • Burning green or wet firewood: Green or wet firewood has high moisture content, making it difficult to burn and prolonging the time to dry out. Green firewood also creates more smoke and creosote, leading to chimney buildup and increased risk of chimney fires. Always make sure your firewood is dry before burning it.
  • Not storing firewood properly: Storing your firewood in damp areas like on the ground, or stacking it haphazardly can cause it to absorb moisture from the environment or the ground, making it unsuitable for burning. Always store your firewood off the ground, on a level surface, and under a cover or roof.
  • Overloading the fireplace or wood stove: Burning too much wood at once can cause issues with your wood stove or fireplace’s ventilation. Overloading your fireplace or wood stove can also create unwanted sparks and excessive heat, posing a significant safety risk.
  • Burning garbage, plastics, or treated wood: Burning garbage, plastics, or treated wood may seem like a good idea, but it’s one of the most detrimental things you can do to your fireplace or wood stove and your health. These materials release harmful toxins, chemicals, and pollutants into the air, endangering your breathing and contaminating your air and chimney.
  • Not maintaining the chimney: Over time, creosote builds up in your chimney, which can cause blockages, reduce ventilation, and lead to chimney fires. To avoid such risks, make sure you clean your chimney at least once a year and inspect it regularly for any signs of damage or blockage.
  • Skipping fireplace inspections: Fireplace inspections are essential, but many people skip them, thinking their fireplace is in good working order, only to realize the hard way that they were wrong. An inspection can help identify any issues before they escalate, allowing you to fix them quickly and efficiently. Always have your fireplace and chimney professionally inspected and cleaned annually.
  • Burning firewood in the wrong season: Burning firewood in the summertime can be tempting, but it’s somewhat impractical. During summer, the humidity levels are high, making it difficult for the firewood to dry out and ignite. Burning firewood is a winter activity, and you should stick to it during this season.
  • Burning firewood in a restricted area: Before burning firewood, it’s essential to check with the regulations concerning wood-burning in your area. Burning firewood in a restricted area can attract hefty fines, and it can lead to unwanted legal troubles.


By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll ensure that your firewood lasts longer, your fireplace and wood stove works efficiently and safely, and your air and chimney are clean and healthy. Make sure you follow the guidelines and tips to ensure your firewood burning experience is the best it can be.

Tips for Cutting and Splitting Firewood

If you’re planning to use a wood stove for winter heating, cutting and splitting firewood is a task you must learn how to do. With the right tools, technique, and safety precautions, you can make it an effective and enjoyable experience.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Cut wood in late winter or early spring: Trees that are cut during this time have a lower moisture content, which makes them easier to cut and split.
  • Choose the right tools: The right tools make all the difference when cutting firewood. You’ll need a chainsaw, ax, and a sledgehammer. Make sure they are sharpened and in good condition.
  • Cut wood into small pieces: A cord of firewood consists of wood cut into pieces that are four feet long, four feet high, and eight feet wide. Cut the wood into small pieces before splitting to make the process faster.
  • Split wood with a wedge: Using an ax to split wood can be dangerous. Use a wedge and sledgehammer instead. Make sure to split wood on a stump or other solid surface.
  • Stack wood properly: Stack the wood in a dry area that gets plenty of sun and wind. This will help it dry faster and last longer.
  • Wear proper safety gear: Wear gloves, safety glasses, and ear protection when using the chainsaw and splitting wood. Make sure you have a first aid kit nearby in case of accidents.
  • Take breaks: Cutting and splitting wood is hard work and can be exhausting. Take breaks frequently to avoid injury or overexertion.
  • Consider using a log splitter: If you have a large amount of wood to split, a log splitter can save you time and energy.
  • Store firewood properly: Keep firewood off the ground and covered with a tarp to protect it from rain and snow.

Types of Wood for Firewood

Not all wood is created equal when it comes to firewood. Some types of wood burn hotter, longer, and cleaner than others. Here are some types of wood that make great firewood:

Wood Type Heat Output Burn Time Smoke
Oak High Long Low
Maple High Long Low
Ash High Long Low
Birch Medium Medium Low
Pine Low Short High

By using these tips and choosing the right type of wood, you can ensure that a cord of firewood will last you through the winter season, keeping you and your family warm and comfortable. Happy cutting and splitting!

How to Build and Maintain a Safe and Effective Firewood Pile

The key to having a long-lasting supply of firewood is to make sure your pile stays dry, ventilated and organized. Not only will this help you avoid mold and rot but it could also reduce the risk of wildfires caused by mismanaged piles of firewood. Here are some tips to help you build and maintain your firewood pile:

  • Find a dry and elevated location to stack your firewood. Look for an area that is free from moisture such as a covered porch, under a shed or an overhang. Moisture can make your wood susceptible to mold, rot, and insects.
  • Use a tarp to keep your firewood dry and well-ventilated. Choose a tarp that is waterproof, lightweight, and breathable. Leave the sides of your tarp open to allow for proper ventilation and airflow. Cover your firewood pile with a tarp to keep it dry, but avoid draping the tarp all the way down to the ground, which can trap moisture.
  • Keep your firewood off the ground. Use a set of firewood racks or platforms to raise your firewood off the ground to ensure proper air circulation and drying of the wood. This also helps protect your firewood from moisture and insects.
  • Avoid stacking your firewood against a wall or fence. This can hinder circulation, leading to moisture build-up, fungal growth, and the risk of termite and other insect infestations.
  • Create a lean-to or roof structure. This will help protect your firewood pile from rain and snow, while still allowing for plenty of ventilation and air circulation. Building a roof structure can take a few hours, but it can add years of life to your firewood pile.
  • Keep your firewood pile organized. You want to make sure that the oldest firewood is always at the bottom and the newer wood is on top. This way, you can use the oldest wood first and avoid having to discard any rotting firewood. It also makes it easier for you to access the firewood when you need it.

Recommended Distances for Building a Safe Firewood Pile

By taking a few simple precautions, you can keep your firewood pile safe from unwanted fires. The following table outlines the recommended distances for building a safe firewood pile:

Location Minimum Distance from Pile
House or other building 10 feet
Combustible fence, deck, shrubs 20 feet
Other piles of combustibles 30 feet

By following these guidelines, you can create a firewood pile that is safe, organized, and long-lasting. With a little effort upfront, you can enjoy the warmth and coziness of a fire throughout the entire winter season.

FAQs: How Long Does a Cord of Firewood Last?

Q: What is a cord of firewood?
A: A cord of firewood is a unit of measurement for stacked wood that measures 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long. It’s equivalent to 128 cubic feet of wood.

Q: How long will a cord of firewood last?
A: The length of time a cord of firewood lasts depends on several factors such as weather conditions, the type of wood used, and how frequently you use it. On average, a cord of firewood can last for six months if used daily.

Q: What type of wood burns the longest?
A: Hardwoods like oak, hickory, and maple burn longer and hotter than softwoods like pine and spruce. It’s best to use hardwoods for cooking and heating purposes.

Q: How should I store my firewood?
A: Firewood should be stored in a dry, covered area. It should be stacked off the ground to prevent moisture buildup and allow for proper air circulation.

Q: Can I burn green wood?
A: Burning green wood can create more smoke and pollution due to its high water content. It’s best to let the wood dry and season for at least six months before burning.

Q: How much firewood do I need for the winter?
A: The amount of firewood you’ll need for the winter will depend on your heating needs and the severity of the winter in your area. A good estimate is a cord of firewood for every two weeks of winter weather.

Q: Why is it important to buy firewood from a reputable dealer?
A: Buying firewood from a reputable dealer ensures that the wood is properly seasoned and free from pests like termites and beetles. It also helps to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Closing Thoughts

We hope these FAQs about how long a cord of firewood lasts have been helpful. Remember, the longevity of your firewood will depend on several factors, but proper storage and using the right type of wood can help extend its lifespan. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon!