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Cost difference between seasoned and unseasoned firewood?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Jon1270, Oct 9, 2012.

  1. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I'm new to woodburning (still preparing to install my insert) and have seen recommendations to buy firewood green and season it yourself, because it's cheaper than buying seasoned wood, and there's no question about what you're getting. I just bought a load of "seasoned" firewood that isn't really ready to burn -- moisture content is 30-50%. So, buying green next year seems like a good idea. Generally speaking, how much of the cost of seasoned firewood (when it's actually seasoned) is due to the seasoning? How much cheaper is green firewood?

    Besides curiosity about what I'll face next year, I'm trying to quantify how badly I've been ripped off.

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  2. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Chalk it up to a learning lesson. Green wood sells anywhere from $100-$150+ cord for hardwood, truly seasoned or kiln dried puts you in the the $300's a cord.
  3. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    In North Central Mass my dealer sells green cords for $185 c/s/d and $250 for seasoned (which really means that it was cut/split in the spring and sitting in a heap for about 5-6 months) Buy it early/green would be my recommendation. Good luck.
  4. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    If you plan to get green wood for next year, do it now......then also get wood for '14-'15 while you're at it.
    If you plan to get "seasoned" wood for next year, do it now......then also get wood for '14-'15 while you're at it.
    See where I'm going with this?
    Dennis, AKA "Backwoods Savage" may be along soon. Others too. We've all been where you are.
  5. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    So based on the first couple of responses it sounds like the price difference is in the 25-50% range.

    Unfortunately this is only one of the ways in which this particular guy cheated me. The wood was advertised as a mix of maple, oak, hickory, ash, elm, locust, etc. but what he delivered was mostly low-value stuff like poplar and basswood. There was a lot of slabwood offcuts from his bandmill mixed in with the spit cordwood, and to top it off, it was dumped in my yard in a pile, and when I stacked it (which took several hours because I had to carry it around to the back of my house), I found he'd only given my 60% of what I'd paid for. I'm seriously considering a trip to Small Claims, on principle alone.
  6. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I forgot to say, thanks everyone.

    If my expectations about the process of buying firewood seem out of whack, I'd appreciate being clued in. I am new at this.
  7. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    This happened to me about 3 times before I found an honest seller. On every time I was shorted, I just called the dealer back and said "Hey, thanks for the 1st load, when is the second load coming?"

    Also, might I make a recommendation to perhaps include some info on your sig line....perhaps just a quick note of your wood stove/insert, and perhaps what area of the country you are from. (Sometimes this info helps to include on your sig line vs typing all the info over and over) Welcome to the site.
  8. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    The only time I would pay a premium for seasoned firewood from a dealer is if it came out of kiln. Anything else is a crap shot
    Taylor Sutherland likes this.
  9. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    That's pretty bad. Until you find a good dealer, I'd recommend looking at the wood before you buy. You'll then know what species are in the load, and get an idea how wet it is. But yeah, I would buy green because you'll have to let even "seasoned" stuff sit. A guy I bought from a couple of years ago, when I got behind on in-laws' wood, had a half-cord trailer that he stacked full (not tossed in.) It was actually pretty dry, except the Oak. If your guy is tossing it into a pickup bed, it might be just 1/3 cord.
    Taylor Sutherland and ScotO like this.
  10. mfglickman

    mfglickman Minister of Fire

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    I'd call them back on the amount. Invite the guy to meet you at your house and bring his measuring tape. :)

    Last winter we bought some "seasoned" wood for around $175 a cord, and it was not really seasoned. It had clearly been split that day or the day before. We didn't know, paid, were done. We've left that seasoning in our yard for the past 10 months now. We had asked for no oak in that load, figuring no one could possibly really sell seasoned oak, so most of that wood is pretty good to burn now. Maple, ash, cherry, birch etc. and the summer was dry.

    Then we tried again from a place that SWORE their wood was seasoned. The guy dumped it in our driveway, 1 cord for around $195. Half was sort of OK and the rest was defintely not seasoned. This is a reputable local dealer and tree service. I called them and the guy admitted it was not seasoned, was very apologetic,and asked me to come by with my SUV and he'd fill it with Bio Bricks to get us through the rest of the season. He said his wood usually is seasoned 6 months - a year but we were right at the end of the season and he had had to split some for us. I figure we got about $75 in Bio Bricks, so paid $125 for the cord of nice, clean, mostly unseasoned hardwood.

    In the Spring we started calling tree services and firewood dealers and negotiated for 5 cords of mixed hardwood delivered for $550. It was more if we only wanted a cord or two, but folks were pretty motivated to sell us 5.

    So - IMO it's worth it to call around and negotiate, but not at the high season. :) In the Spring and early Summer you'll find you can get green hardwoods a lot cheaper. And maybe even find a tree service to dump rounds for you.

    Good luck!
  11. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    I added a bit of info to my signature line.

    I live in Pittsburgh. The surrounding hills are just covered in hardwood forests, and labor is fairly cheap so firewood prices here aren't so dear as some areas of the country. One of the more expensive outfits will deposit two neatly stacked half-cord pallets of dry oak anywhere their crane can reach for about $250, and give you a bottle of expensive wine from their vineyard as a bonus. My deal with the other guy was supposed to be two and quarter cords of well-seasoned mixed hardwoods for $385, which seemed like a decent deal (I didn't want the wine). Instead I ended up with one and a third cords of wet cheap stuff for $385.
  12. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Oh, and I did call him back the next day, and I did invite him to come by with his tape measure. He got belligerent, then considered making up by bringing me a load of "really, super-dry elm" he supposedly has, then asked me to give him time to cool off and he'd call me back. He didn't call me back, and now he's ignoring my messages. He's a gem.
  13. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    If I was buying I would buy at tax time. Then use it next season.
  14. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Doesn't sound like that guy pays taxes. ;lol
    Taylor Sutherland and smokinj like this.
  15. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    Although I have never bought firewood, if I did I would operate under the assumption that what I was buying would NOT be seasoned, regardless of what was advertised. Price from there.
  16. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Long-term, I expect to be able to scavenge some wood myself. I have a small chainsaw and a couple of Fiskars splitting axes, and I know how to use 'em.. Last week I lucked into a quarter-cord of long-dead and mostly dry wood of unknown species - locust, I think - that was being disposed of by a landscaper cleaning up someone's yard. But I don't have a truck, so getting larger quantities myself is rather inefficient. I expect I'll be buying some fraction of my wood for the foreseeable future.
  17. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    Live & learn, Jon. My first year was last year, and I went through two woodsellers before I found my "perfect man"(). The first outfit did not really cheat me, but they were a lot more expensive than the competition; my mistake was thinking that "seasoned and ready to burn" was not a phrase used by EVERYONE who deals in firewood. The second one sold me a lot of poplar and pine with my "100% hardwood", and everything was muddy and waterlogged, though that really was not an issue.
    I have found that an honest dealer will bend over backwards to keep a new customer happy, even if they all sell "seasoned and ready to burn" at 35% on the moisture meter.;)
  18. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    We all went thru the learning curve about seasoned fire wood.
    Over 90% of the time, a wood seller selling seasoned fire wood means,
    it' s cut & split at least a day or 2 before delivered.
    Here i see 25' tall monster piles of splits, been there starting this spring & they sell it as seasoned.
    It's aged 6 months , maybe, but no way the pile gets air circulations, some of the outside splits may be partially seasoned,
    but not ready to burn in the new EPA stoves.

    I used to get a log length delivered in Aug, CSS & burn it starting in Oct. Wasn't seasoned, but it burned.
    Just clean the chimney monthly & burn hotter fires.
    Now I know better & have been working to get 2 years + ahead.
    What a difference well seasoned wood makes. Night & day ;)

    You are on the right track, but finding truely seasoned wood ready to burn is very tough.
    Buy this year for next & process you own so you know it was seasoned properly.

    "You burn what you got, seasoned or not"
  19. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    I'd drop that so-called 'dealer' like a bad habit.....maybe leave him a message that you're considering contacting the BBB and also the local municipality about his lying. Also mention that you've put a seed in other woodburner's ears about his sales practices. Hopefully he'll correct the situation and then, you can drop him for the rest of your life. Like others said, buy wood under the assumtion that it is NOT seasoned, get as far ahead as you can, and try your best to get your own wood. Learn the different hardwoods, and how to identify them. That way, when a scrounge comes up, you're not wasting your time on collecting junk. Before you know it, you'll be joining the Firewood haorders (see signature below), because in a year or two, your addiction will have gotten out of control and you'll need our help!;)

    Welcome to your new addiction!
  20. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Heh, I actually know quite a bit about hardwoods that are used in furniture building, because that's what I do. But I recognize them most easily when they're planed smooth, not so much by their bark.
  21. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    You'll learn alot about the bark, leaves, and split grain on this site. Google helps alot too.
  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Jon, many of us feel your pain. For sure you got ripped off big-time. It is bad enough that folks sell what they claim is seasoned wood but then short you too... Now to top it off you got bass? Popple? Geeze... I would go to the man first and if no deal is agreed, then take him to small claims court. Make sure you have lots of pictures.

    Now what about this fellow in the above quote? This fellow will sell half-cord pallets of dry oak. How do you know it is dry? How big is this oak? How long has the wood been split? Be aware that if you intend to burn oak, it should be 3 years after cutting and splitting that stuff before you burn it! Some say 2 years but there is a huge difference between 2 and 3 year old oak.

    Being a new wood burner you also need to be aware of what can happen if you burn wood that is not dry enough. First thing is you'll have trouble getting the wood started to burn and then have trouble keeping the fire going decently. This will cause you to have to give the stove more air than normal which means you will send more heat up the chimney than in your house. It also can mean serious creosote problems and possible chimney fires.

    Whatever you do, be sure to check your chimney every month in your first 2 years of burning. Clean as necessary.


    And now you know one of the reasons we recommend being 3 years ahead on your wood pile. Good luck.
  23. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I don't think you should expect to get well seasoned wood regardless of what the dealer says. "Seasoned' means different things to different people and trying to convince a seller that your definition of seasoned is the correct definition will be tough. On the other hand, a cord is clearly defined legal term that everyone should be able to agree on. I'd fully expect to get a cord when you pay for a cord. To be sure you might confirm with a seller that when they say cord they mean a standard 4x4x8 ft, 128 cubic foot cord.
  24. Bacffin

    Bacffin Minister of Fire

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    I'm a new burner also and this and the other post here are great advise that you will not get from some some dealer with enormus piles sitting in yard. For example, I called one guy (large farm on a busy road) right in my town who supplies locally "free delivery seasoned hardwood", and has great CL posts too. When I called him and said how seasoned is seasoned because I have a new EPA rated stove and the moisture content needs to be below 20%, he told me eighteen months. My reply, eighteen months in those enormus piles I drive by everyday? His answer, just stack it and you will be fine, I have one of those new stoves too. After a 2 cord delivery, I'm out there with the log splitter, splitting huge oak splits into smaller pieces because it will not burn. It's still drying out. Now, alot of it did burn, but it wasn't a clean burn like I know good dry wood can. I am still getting ahead, and the next time I order a load from a so called cord wood dealer, I will bring my moisture meter and the specs from the manual stating 20% moister content or lower, have him go into the center of his big piles of the stuff he will be delivering to me and measure the ones there. I'll bet I don't even need to split any and get a bad reading on the MM.

    Hang in there, it's all about economics and education, and that will set you free from the oil and gas compnies.
  25. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Unfortunately I don't have space to store several years' worth of wood. I live a hillside, and the level areas around my house are not very big. A couple of cords is no problem, but much beyond that and we'd be swimming in firewood. Anyhow, after this winter we should have a much clearer idea of how much wood we need.

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