Firewood Pile

Firewood

All firewood is

Birch Bark Image

White Birch

One of Saskatchewan's favourite firewoods, white birch is an attractive wood that has a high heat value, great smelling smoke and very rarely sparks.

Jack Pine Bark Image

Jack Pine

Saskatchewan's best value for heating, jack pine has a high heat value, seasons quickly, burns well, has a great smelling smoke and saves you money.

White Poplar Bark Image

White Poplar (Aspen)

Poplar makes a good replacement for birch if you are just enjoying a fire rather than heating with wood. Like birch it is an attractive wood however its smoke is less appealing and it will throw sparks.

Spruce

Spruce is an excellent choice for campfires due to it's low price and perfectly sized pieces.

Spruce Flitches

Firewood cut from the outside portion of a log that is a product of the sawmilling process. A variety of sized pieces, perfect for campfires or heating a shop with no splitting required. These are not the usual thin and flat slabs. My D & L TS 48 sawmill runs two perpendicular blades through oversize sawlogs with significant butt flare that can't be used. You will be pleasantly surprised what great campfire wood these make

Firewood Comparison

  $/Cord Heat M_BTU/Cord Bark Appearance Sparks Size Range
Tamarack n/a 20.8 Grey/Brown, scales Yes 2”-6”; 2 & 4-way split
Birch $350
($225 ½ cord)
20.3 White, smooth NO 2”-6”; 2 & 4-way split
Birch Green $300
Jack Pine $325 17.1 Brown, scales Yes 2”-6”; 2 & 4-way split
White Poplar $250 14.7 White, smooth, occasional furrows Yes 2”-6”; 2 & 4-way split
White Spruce $250 14.5 Grey/Brown, scales Yes 2”-6”; 2 & 4-way split
Spruce Flitches $45 - Grey/Brown, scales Yes 1”-10” flat slabs & chunks

Pine Poplar and Birch Grains
Pine Poplar and Birch Grains

A cord is a traditional unit of measure used to describe the volume of logs or firewood. One cord is 128 cubic feet, normally expressed as 4'x4'x8'. Confusion arises when people describe the volume of logs or firewood as cords. How firewood is piled and how long or large those pieces are will significantly change how much solid wood is present (as opposed to air space). For example, take 30 logs and neatly stack them. If those 30 logs occupy a space of 128 cubic feet (1 cord) and are then lifted up with a loader and dropped into a loose, jumbled pile, then that pile will occupy a volume approximately 40-60% larger. The greater volume is due to the jumble of logs holding each other up and creating more air space between each other. The same holds true for firewood. A neatly stacked pile will have more wood and less air than a loosely thrown pile that occupies the same volume.

This difference between stacked and loose piled firewood is very important because you often don't know how much firewood you've bought until you have stacked what's been delivered at your home. The key is the conversion factor between stacked and loosely piled firewood. One stacked cord occupies 128 cubic feet, while that same cord loosely dumped occupies between 156 and 180 cubic feet. Firewood that has been blocked into 18" lengths and split multiple times will make a "fluffier" pile than the same wood blocked into 14" lengths and split in half. The "fluffier" firewood when loose piled would tend towards 180 ft3/cord. The shorter lengths with fewer splits would tend towards 156 ft3 . The generally accepted volume for loose piled firewood is 168 ft3, and is the volume that Saskatchewan Provincial Parks accept.

Birch FiewoodFor a detailed definition of a cord go to Measurement Canada's website (http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/mc-mc.nsf/eng/lm03963.html) or the Scaling Manual of Saskatchewan (www.environment.gov.sk.ca/forests). Both documents define a cord of firewood. However, there is no official way to scale firewood when loosley piled (the reason being that there are endless shapes and sizes of loose piles that would make developing formulas very expensive). Also of note, in Saskatchewan, the only official way to measure wood in any form (i.e., scaled)  is by the cubic meter. And if that wood has been split or if it is not stacked, it can not be scaled since the volume tables are based on stacked round wood.

Therefore, it is in your best interest to measure the load of firewood when it arrives, before it is unloaded.

If your wood is loosely piled in a trailer, measure the inside height, width and length of the box in decimal feet and divide by 168 to calculate the volume in cords (i.e., H x W x L ÷ 168 = cords).

If your wood arrives neatly stacked in a truck, measure the inside height, width and length of the box in decimal feet and divide by 128 to calculate the volume in cords (i.e., H x W x L ÷ 128 = cords).

 

Other Types of Cords

Generally in Saskatchewan when a cord is discussed, it is assumed one is talking about a cord that measures 4'x4'x8'.  This is also known as a bush cord.  However, a face cord which is 1/3 of a cord is sometimes erroneously called a cord.  A face cord measures 16"x4'x8'.  There are other terms used in Eastern Canada and the US to refer to cords, but are rarely used here.

Seasoned and Green Wood

A healthy tree may have a moisture content of 30-40% depending on species.  Water occurs in two states in wood: free and bound.  Air drying will remove the free water in wood, down to approximately 20% moisture content (MC).  To reduce moisture content to 8% requires a kiln and for general heating purposes this is not required (although there is an emerging demand in urban areas for kiln dried firewood because it lights so easily).  Air drying down to 20% MC is what you need to consider here. 

The best way to facilitate air drying is to cut, split, stack and cover your wood. 

  1. More moisture is removed through the cut ends than the split sides. 

  2. Re-wetting of wood by rain considerably slows the drying process. 

  3. Good airflow around the wood enhances drying. 

Measuring MC is difficult without an accurate moisture meter. But be cautious of the $100 versions from hardware stores since they are notoriously inaccurate and generally indicate a much lower MC than really exists since the pins only measure the conductivity (i.e., MC) near the surface. A metre that has pins that are pounded deep into the wood are more accurate. Some ways to determine the dryness of your wood:

When you receive your shipment, you should stack your wood off the ground and cover it to keep the rain and snow off. Do not cover the sides of your pile.