Firewood scammers?

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Max W

Member
Feb 4, 2021
102
Maine
There are always going to people who will be unscrupulous and there is no excuse for saying wood is at a certain moisture content when it is not but the dealers I have known and used have been fair and easy to work with. I have heated with wood for many years. Cut it on our own lots, bought it 4ft, by tree length and now cut and split. I bought “seasoned” wood twice, once it was some kiln dried when I was running low. I was happy with both although someone with a newer epa approved stove new stove likely would not be pleased. Until coming across hearth.com a year ago I never measured firewood with a moisture meter or understood the need of today’s cleaner and efficient stoves, or any stove, for wood below 20% moisture. I considered one year of seasoning ample and I was far from alone. I usually managed to be well ahead on that but in a bind have counted on green white ash to heat. We heated with stoves that didn’t require wood dried to 20% to work. Fortunately for all of us that is changing in a large part but am I off in thinking there are lots of older stoves whose users plan on a year to season their firewood and likewise dealers who still genuinely believe that stove wood stored in piles for ten or twelve months is seasoned? Some of us catch on more slowly.

ps I started to write this earlier today on a word app and missed DonTee’s post. I guess I got an answer with a lot of people seasoning for even less than a year.
 

Dfw245

Member
Jan 28, 2022
158
Dallas
Well I guess it's not that 6months won't burn, in a sense, all wood burns. But to burn efficiently and hotter also, being thoroughly seasoned is required. Or at the very least, recommended. From what I've read, you lose BTUs when the wood isn't seasoned too well. I get it you don't want 8% moisture lol but 25%, even though it burns, isn't as efficient as say 16...at least down here in the south where temps are regularly above 95. Somewhere else with high humidity might not be able to get below 20 which I understand. But at least here in Texas, I really don't understand how this word of mouth spread so far n wide. 6months being enough for something like oak? I'm not buying it. Literally and figuratively. Will it burn? Sure. But do you realize how much heat you're losing to all that crackling and hissing? Your 24btu red oak might be putting out closer to 16 haha. I'm just kidding, not too sure about that stuff. But it doesn't heat as well. But as fast as the false narrative spread, the truth can spread as well. It just takes people to start spreading it that's all.
 

GerryM

New Member
Dec 6, 2020
10
Ontario Canada
I cut and split logs with three neighbors- Maple Oak and Beech. I don't use a ton right now, maybe 2 bush cords a year. We cut far enough ahead that I just got into burning wood cut and split Sept 2020, left out in a windy spot on my property, then moved into an open woodshed this August. So a year in the elements (top covered) then 6 months in an open shed near the house. I have enough of the Sept 2020 wood for most of next year.
I was buying cut and split cords, each seller was different, some can't even figure out how to cut into 16 inch lengths, varying from 14 to 18..... moisture content was all over the map. I finally found a reasonable guy for a year, then we decided to cut our own cull logs. About 1/3 the price of buying cut and split. Almost 3 bush cords for $360 (Canadian money....) Having a tandem dump to move it helps.. and a reason to have a campfire and beer or two at the end of the day once the saws are away!
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
4,353
Long Island NY
I'm gonna have to respectfully disagree with one minor premise here: I don't agree that green wood should be the standard. At all. I think green wood should be something that homeowners/semi pros/pros seek out to get ahead of the curve. But the casuals expect wood to burn when they buy it unless told otherwise. The standard SHOULD be, whatever you sell and market your wood as, it should be. That cut and dry. No pun intended lol. I don't believe it doesn't economically work. I believe if like most people serious about their wood on here, were to buy their wood a couple years out, they could then stay ahead of the curve. Will it be a process? Better believe it. Tough to manage? Oh sure. But that's the business of going into business. Of course unexpected demand can bankrupt you on wood but hey, all you can do is try your best to prepare for it. Everybody can't be regulated of course, but you regulate most of them and that lowers the percentage of wronged customers. As well as giving customers a reliable place to source their yearly firewood. One things for sure, as difficult as it may be and hard to keep up, when I go into business selling firewood? Each ad I post will be filled with Moisture readings and pictures of such on freshly split pieces. Accurate days of seasoning and accurate wood species. And most of all, accurate measurements of cords with photos of each. For example, 1 cord (4x8x4') Post Oak 2yr 3mo split 20% moisture $200....stuff like that. Ok, whew....rant over lol didn't want u to think I was picking on you, but this thread really hits home for me. I wasn't even looking to go into business doing this, but ever since I started trying to source wood? It's been a crapshoot. There are so many uneducated(I was) people in this industry. I'm glad I've come to this forum to learn as much as I can. And one day hope to help those in need by giving them reliable firewood/smoking wood that they can count on to burn without needing a blazing fire first. Alright.....I'm done lol
The economics of that just don't work well. If you want to sell 100 cords that have to sit a full year, split, stacked, covered (not in a big pile), you need space that is occupied for a full year (or two if not in the dry south west). The added cost that that brings would price you out of the market. You'd need to have enough folks that have a modern stove AND are aware of its needs AND are willing to pay a boatload of money for a cord. I'm just not sure that market is there in general. Sure there are examples of folks being able to do that, but for most firewood sellers it just won't be possible.

So the expectation should indeed be to buy green wood and let it season on your own property. For the occasional burner a cord is enough.

And storing one cord is not all that hard. I live in suburbia, and have only 0.22 acres here. (Yes moving up from TN to NY had its cost... it sucks in this respect, especially now that my boss has decided that we all can stay home to work after forcing me up here... I could have stayed in good old TN...) On my 0.22 acres I have 8-9 cords seasoning (depending on how tight I stack the stacks in my one shed). As I burn about 2.75-3 cords a year for my full time heating (with the minisplit taking care of the shoulder seasons), that's enough. It can be done. And telling the left-handed town folks around here that I am not buying any oil other than for hot water, and showing them the shed I built, and getting the remark that my chimney never smokes gets me extra man-card points ;-P
 
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Dfw245

Member
Jan 28, 2022
158
Dallas
The economics of that just don't work well. If you want to sell 100 cords that have to sit a full year, split, stacked, covered (not in a big pile), you need space that is occupied for a full year (or two if not in the dry south west). The added cost that that brings would price you out of the market. You'd need to have enough folks that have a modern stove AND are aware of its needs AND are willing to pay a boatload of money for a cord. I'm just not sure that market is there in general. Sure there are examples of folks being able to do that, but for most firewood sellers it just won't be possible.

So the expectation should indeed be to buy green wood and let it season on your own property. For the occasional burner a cord is enough.

And storing one cord is not all that hard. I live in suburbia, and have only 0.22 acres here. (Yes moving up from TN to NY had its cost... it sucks in this respect, especially now that my boss has decided that we all can stay home to work after forcing me up here... I could have stayed in good old TN...) On my 0.22 acres I have 8-9 cords seasoning (depending on how tight I stack the stacks in my one shed). As I burn about 2.75-3 cords a year for my full time heating (with the minisplit taking care of the shoulder seasons), that's enough. It can be done. And telling the left-handed town folks around here that I am not buying any oil other than for hot water, and showing them the shed I built, and getting the remark that my chimney never smokes gets me extra man-card points ;-P
Yeah, guess I'm gonna just have to disagree here. If you want to sell 100 cords but don't have the space, I'd call that a bit ambitious. Start with what you are capable. 100 cords with no space might as well be no cords. Start off with 10 cords maybe 15. Grow your clientele base. Then as more money trickles in, possibly buy a larger space or even rent a larger space that fits within your expenses/income base. Its very unrealistic to expect anyone to just have space for 100 cords. But it's not unrealistic to expect someone to start small. And also understand that while alot of people do. Not everyone uses a stove to heat. Some just use a plain old fireplace. Nowhere near as efficient. But that's all they have. They may burn through wood faster than you have it, sure. And you may risk them leaving and going somewhere else. But if your product is wonderful and your prices are fair, they know the next joe off the street won't have anything near your quality. They will come back next year. The expectation that wood should be green is rather misplaced. I still stand by, the only expectation should be the one set by the seller. If they deem it green, it should be green. If it's seasoned...it should be seasoned. That takes the guesswork out of it. Would it be easier if green was regulated as standard? Sure would. But then at that rate, your prices drop because customer expectations drop. If they knew the wood they had wasn't great, and wouldn't burn as hot, and they have to let it sit n season? They'd buy less, or they'd buy more with the expectation of a cheaper price since it's not ready. It just creates another economic cycle of expectation vs reality. And I don't think you need to sell it for a boatload of money.(depending on your perspective there) here in tx, a full real cord is normally priced around $500-$700. Overpriced sure. But that's what they fetch. Face cords regularly sell for 225-300. There are exceptions to this but that can be seen just browsing places like reddit, FB marketplace, Craigslist. Etc. Highway Joe probably sells his for $35 for a stack of 20 pieces. My last wood guy actually sold 9cuft of wood for $50. And that's just size. Moderately seasoned at that. So if in reality let's say down here you can get $450 for a cord and only have space for 10 cords that's $4500 the initial investment of somewhere to store it would indeed be an investment. But if it pays off, why not? And say it's hickory or cherry or apple, something that can fetch a premium down here, it can go for even more. Theres ways to make it work like you said, its worked but that doesn't mean it'll work for everyone. Of course not. But I guess my POV is, everyone shouldn't be selling wood. If everyone is a seller, then who are the buyers? Too much competition between businesses is good for customers but not for businesses. It'll water down the prices and then yes, it wouldn't be worth the extra effort.

You're also in NY so it's quiiiiiite a bit different lol but with oak and pecan being our main woods down here it fetches a pretty penny as is. There's more land and space here. So while I don't think it should be nationally regulated of course(green wood standard might make more sense in NY), it should probably statewide regulated. That's all I'm sayin
 
I’ve learned from experience what most everyone else here has said, that “seasoned” means something quite different to most firewood sellers, so it’s not a surprise any longer when a get a cord that still reads 22-25%. I‘ll stack it up and have it ready for future years. I don’t have a wood lot or acreage, a truck, or the time to be bucking, splitting and stacking all year, so I’m sometimes at the mercy of others.

I also try to be sympathetic to the fact that not everyone is educated about properly seasoned wood, and that a lot of received wisdom is the norm, e.g. seasoning for a summer is enough, pine shouldn’t be in a stove, etc. (this obviously doesn’t go for the OP’s story, which, I think we can all agree was at its most generous underhanded)

But here’s my question: assuming that the person selling you the wood ISN’T claiming, like in the OP’s story, that it’s 16%, but merely “seasoned” what is the etiquette about purchasing. Do you:

-Ask for moisture meter read outs beforehand? (this assumes they even have one)
-Ask to come to them to get a read yourself before making them load up a cord and drive it to you?
-Have them do that, sample the wood there and then haggle over the price because it’s not under 20%?
-Pay them for their time and send them on their way?
 

DonTee

Member
Dec 1, 2021
206
Upstate NY
If you were buying it this time of year how would you even get an accurate moisture meter reading? The wood is stored outdoors, and would need to come up to room temp to test it.

I would start by asking the seller how long it’s been seasoned for.
Someone might say 6 month old wood is seasoned, but I think they would be less likely to lie about the amount of time it’s been seasoned. Especially if they think 6 months is enough.
 
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bigealta

Minister of Fire
May 22, 2010
708
Utah, NJ
Just keep it simple. Whatever u buy needs to be Seasoned by purchaser for 1 year or more. Doesn't matter what anyone says or promises. This is not a "Fine Tuned" business so don't try to make it one when buying. Don't pay extra for seasoned wood.

If you want to be a "Fine Tuned" seller than more power to you.
 
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MMH

Minister of Fire
Jan 21, 2019
557
NV
Yup, I think this is far more the norm unfortunately. 99% of the time it’s wet, and your likely not getting an actual cord; my favorite is “well my trailer is 8 x 16 and it’s filled up a foot so that’s a cord.” Every once in a great while you’ll find people who truly season their wood, and will tightly stack it for a true cord, but there diamonds in the rough. When you find them, treat them well and foster the relationship and it will pay off for you as well.
 
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Max W

Member
Feb 4, 2021
102
Maine
Yup, I think this is far more the norm unfortunately. 99% of the time it’s wet, and your likely not getting an actual cord; my favorite is “well my trailer is 8 x 16 and it’s filled up a foot so that’s a cord.” Every once in a great while you’ll find people who truly season their wood, and will tightly stack it for a true cord, but there diamonds in the rough. When you find them, treat them well and foster the relationship and it will pay off for you as well.
If the loose tossed wood in that 8X16 trailer was in 12 or 16 inch lengths it would need to be piled 1.4 ft high to be considered a cord here in Maine. By statute a loose tossed cord is a 180 cu. ft. in 12 or 16 inch lengths or 195 cu. ft. if cut in 2 ft lengths.

That’s how I get it. If when stacked it turns out to be a few feet less than 128ft it’s not a big deal. My dealer is a one man operation. He works hard and brings very good wood. I am fortunate in many ways. I guess it is easy for me in a rural location with space and with a fairly new woodshed to overlook what a problem lack of seasoned wood is for people who may not have much space or maybe just decided to buy a stove and burn wood.