, Kingston, NH

January 2, 2014

Buying Firewood

Carriage Towne News

---- — DURHAM – As New Hampshire residents begin purchasing firewood for the winter, UNH Cooperative Extension offers insight, tips, and a reminder about two firewood quarantines in effect in New Hampshire.

The state of New Hampshire has two firewood quarantines in place to help prevent the arrival of damaging insects. A 2011 firewood quarantine prohibits uncertified firewood from other states from being brought into New Hampshire. A quarantine put in place earlier this year after the Emerald Ash Borer was discovered in Concord prevents the movement of all hardwood firewood, ash wood products and ash nursery stock from moving outside of Merrimack County. UNH Cooperative Extension encourages homeowners to ask their firewood dealers to confirm that their firewood meets the requirements of the quarantines. To learn more about the quarantines, go to

Extension Professor Karen Bennett says consumers should treat the purchase of firewood as they would any other business transaction—using good business practices. “It’s best to be clear about what you want when speaking to a firewood dealer,” she says.

Bennett offers the following guidelines:

How to Purchase Firewood

• Specify how much firewood you want to buy—do you want a cord or a fraction of a cord? A cord is the amount of wood that is contained in a space of 128 cubic feet when the pieces of wood are placed in a row, with individual pieces touching and parallel to one another and stacked in a compact manner.

• Let the dealer know how long you would like the pieces to be; they should be short enough to fit in your woodstove or fireplace.

• Talk to the firewood dealer about the types of wood you wish to purchase, as different woods have different properties. Overall, a mix of hardwoods is best, with a small amount of kindling wood mixed in.

Dry, Seasoned or Green

Before you buy, find out if the firewood is split and if the dealer provides dry, seasoned or green wood. Split wood dries faster. It is not easy to determine the moisture content of firewood. Depending on the species, cut and split wood needs six to eight months of drying time. Therefore, working with a reputable dealer is critical. Unless the wood is kiln-dried, which assures a consistent moisture content of about 20 percent, the wood will vary quite a bit. Seasoned wood tends to be around 30 percent moisture content. Green wood can be in excess of 50 percent moisture content.

How to Store Firewood

Consider where you want the wood to be dumped and if you want the dealer to stack the wood for you. Have the firewood dumped near to where it will be stored. Find a sunny spot with good air flow and place the wood off the ground on stringers or old pallets. Cover only the top of the pile to avoid trapping moisture.

Take Precautions

• New Hampshire law requires that a receipt or delivery ticket be presented to the buyer upon delivery. It is important that you receive a receipt for each load that is delivered. The receipt should include the names and addresses of the seller and buyer, the delivery date, the quantity delivered and the quantity upon which the price is based, the price for the amount delivered and a description of what was delivered.

• Never pre-pay for multiple loads; pay upon delivery.

• Upon delivery, immediately inspect the wood to ensure that what you received is what you ordered. Stack the wood within two weeks to assure the volume ordered was the volume delivered. And, if there are any problems with or questions about the wood, contact the seller before burning or moving any of it.

If you have general questions about firewood, call the UNH Cooperative Extension Forestry Information Center at (800) 444-8978 or e-mail For quarantine or other regulatory questions, contact the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food Division of Weights and Measures at (603) 271-3700.