There’s a chill in the air.

It’s getting to be that time where firewood comes to the forefront of our minds, especially for those who live in the coldest climates. But how much should you pay for a cord? And what exactly is a cord? Where did the term “cord” even come from?

I’ll answer those questions in this article.

I grew up in Maryland, and luckily for me I have an uncle who cuts down trees for a living. We get our firewood for free every year.

Working with Wood

Soft Wood

But working with wood meant my uncle knew what a cord was, and how much it costs, and he shared that knowledge with me when he came over to drop off our wood for the first time. He must have dumped three cords worth of wood in our backyard, compliments of the company.

Okay, so firewood doesn’t have a fixed price every year. Depending on supply and demand, weather forecasts, and location, firewood falls into a given price range. For instance, hardwood in Tucson, AZ costs about $300 per cord, but in Arvada, CO, it costs $800.

This means that you really need to know your stuff in case someone tries to rip you off. Let’s go back to the beginning.

Cord of Word Origins

The term “cord of wood” was coined in the 1600’s when wood as bundled up and tied with a literal cord. A cord back then was similar to a “bundle” that you might see today, as people couldn’t carry around that much wood by themselves.

A full cord of wood measures 4 feet high x 4 feet wide x 8 feet long. This comes out to a volume of 128 cubic feet, but it actually measures out to about 95 cubic feet because of all the air in between the wood itself.

There’s also a variety of other measurements revolving around the cord. For instance, half of a cord would be 4’ x 4’ x 4’, and you can also buy what’s known as a “face cord,” or ⅓ of a full cord. There’s also ¼, ½, and ⅛ cords.

As for the weight, a full cord of hardwood can weigh in at 5,000 pounds, and a full cord of softwood at 2,500 pounds.

Get Your Own Cord

If you’re looking to chop your own firewood and simply wanted to know how much a cord was, check out our list of the markets best log splitters, chosen by the experts here at Crush Reviews. They will save you time and pain, and will get your fireplace crackling in no time.

If you are looking to buy a cord from a seller, a quick word of caution is to be leery of any other term a seller tries to use, such as “rack,” “truckload,” or “stove cord.” These have no measurements of any kind and are meaningless. Stick with the knowledge I just gave you about cords.

I mentioned earlier that the price of a cord of wood would vary depending on where you live, the weather forecast, and the type of wood. Here’s a quick rundown on what you can expect.

  • Delivery costs – Free to $80, depending on distance from seller.
  • Stacking – It’s up to you to either get your wood stacked, or stack it yourself. To save money, you can just get the wood dumped on your property to stack later.
  • Buy ASAP – It’s important to buy firewood as soon as possible since the price of wood skyrockets the closer it gets to winter.
  • Hardwood Costs – This type of wood costs $300 – $500 per cord typically. Take into account weather forecasts and location when getting a quote.
  • Softwood Costs – This type of wood costs about $150 to $300

Now that you know how much it will cost, let’s talk about being prepared for the winter.

Cord of Wood

Type of Wood

Log Splitter

First off, what kind of wood should you buy—hardwood or softwood? In short, you get what you pay for. Hardwoods burn longer, providing more heat, which is why they’re more expensive. If you want a fire that burns up quickly then just purchase softwood. Softwood is perfect for those who aren’t living in the coldest climates and experience occasional sub-20 degree weather.

Now for the million-dollar question—or $1000 question depending on your needs. How many cords should you buy? For my family, we run through two cords of firewood per winter–but that’s because my family absolutely loves putting fires in. We spend all day Christmas with a fire, and all day Thanksgiving with a fire, which probably eats up half a cord of wood in and of itself.

It depends on your needs. If you use fires as your main source of heating, then expect to run through 5 cords. If your family burns occasionally, then just expect to run through 2-3 cords, like mine.

Don’t forget to take a look at our list of the best log splitters, and we at Crush Reviews hope you stay safe and warm this winter.

2017-04-16T21:37:11+00:00

About the Author:

Francis K. doesn’t stray too far from his toolshed. In fact, other than a brief stint at college, he’s been working on DIY projects or professional woodworking since he was a teenager. If it involves handiwork and a little elbow grease, he’s your guy.