How Much Firewood Is in a Cord and How to Store It

pile of firewood

The Spruce / Christopher Lee Foto

Burning wood in a fireplace or other wood-burning appliance can be a comforting way to generate heat and ambiance. And depending on firewood costs and availability in your area, it also might reduce your overall heating costs. So it's important to know what goes into purchasing and storing cords of firewood.

What Is a Cord of Firewood?

A cord is a unit of measurement for firewood. To measure the firewood, it must be stacked as tightly as possible with the pieces running parallel to one another. Then, the volume of the wood is taken.

In the United States, the definition of a cord is typically a volume of 128 cubic feet—or a stack that is 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long. Regulations about cord size can vary by state and country.

firewood cord sizes
The Spruce / Melissa Ling 

Other Firewood Measurements

There are several other terms used for firewood measurement. They include a face cord or rick cord, both of which often refer to a stack of wood that is 4 feet high by 8 feet long and roughly 16 inches wide (or the length of the firewood pieces). Thus, a face or rick cord is usually smaller than a full cord. Another wood stack measurement is a Sheldon cord, which varies in size and is often bigger than a full cord.

Because the name and measurement can vary based on location and seller, it's always smart to confirm the size of the stack you're buying with the seller. This will make it easier to compare different firewood sellers to get the best deal.

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9 Tips for Storing Firewood

Firewood Storage

If you've purchased firewood that's already been split and dried, all you have to do is stack it in a convenient spot. But if your firewood is green or wet and not split, you have a little more work to do. First, split it into manageable pieces both for carrying and burning. Then, find a spot with good airflow to stack it for air drying. Avoid stacking wood between trees, as wind can move the trees and topple over the pile.

How efficient the drying process is depends on how you stack your wood. Start the stack off the ground either on logs, bricks, or pallets. From there, the most practical method is to stack the wood in a row with stakes at each end. If you need to stack the wood more than one row deep, leave space between the rows for air circulation.

Moreover, because burning dry wood is recommended (green wood tends to generate a lot of smoke), stack the driest wood on top of your pile for easy accessibility. Likewise, aim to use the oldest wood in your pile first to minimize its potential for rot. Once you're done stacking, cover only the top of the pile with a tarp or other cover to protect it from the elements but still allow for adequate airflow.

There are different types of firewood racks and holders for either indoor or outdoor use. Keeping only a day or two's worth of firewood indoors is best. Firewood can bring in unwanted pests, dirt and debris, and pollen. And if it's not completely dry, the moisture within the wood can create excess humidity in your home.