Buying Firewood in Maryland
Maryland Department of Natural Resources has great information about how to buy the best burning and least expensive Firewood. Excerpts are included here. The entire article includes comparative charts and pictures of properly dried firewood. There are a few things you should know about wood and the laws regarding selling firewood that will help you make the best decision when making your firewood purchase.
Selecting a Firewood Dealer
When selecting a firewood dealer you should take several things into consideration.
Are They Licensed?
If the dealer is in the firewood business, they shall have a Forest Products Operators License issued by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Forest Service. The Maryland Forest Service can provide you with a list of licensed operators in your area. If you have found a potential dealer, you can easily check if they are properly licensed by calling (410) 260-8531 or by using this link: www.dnr.state.md.us/forests/fpo_search.asp, select "firewood" and your county.
If you haven't worked with a particular dealer before, they should be willing to offer you references of customers they have delivered wood to before. If they're not willing to offer you a list of customers, those customers may not be happy ones.
Problems with a Firewood Dealer
Maryland law states that firewood must be sold by a cord or a fraction of a cord. This is enforced by the Maryland Department of Agriculture's - Weights and Measures section. If you have a concern about the volume of wood you have paid for you should contact them at (410) 841-5790. Note: they only handle matters where the volume of wood is in dispute.
Know What You Are Buying
A cord is a measurement of wood that when neatly stacked and rowed equals 128 cubic feet. This stack measures 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide by 8 feet long or its equivalent (which means stack it neatly any way you like as long as it equals 128 cubic feet).
Be smart when you talk with a dealer and know what kind of wood you need before you make the call. Some things to consider:
Not all wood is created equal!
Different woods have different qualities. Oak creates a lasting fire and splits easily. But oak may be expensive and other woods may work just as well. Some woods are less dense and have different splitting and coaling qualities. Here is a short comparative list of difference kinds of firewood.
Is the Wood Dry?
The more moisture in your wood, the less heat you will get from it. It takes energy to burn the water out of wood (it may make a hissing sound). This is energy that should be used in warming your house. Generally, the dryer the wood, the more you'll pay for it.
Some indicators of dry wood:
• Color - look for grayness
• Bark - a sure sign that firewood is dry is bark that is falling off the wood
• Checks - as wood dries it will begin to split on the ends
• Touch - fresh cut wood may feel wet on the end
What Size Do I Need?
Know what sized wood your woodstove or fireplace can use. Most dealers will cut wood into certain lengths (for example 18"). To get special lengths you may have to special order it early or pay a premium.