A real “cord” is 128 cubic sq. ft. of wood. As per the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, it represents a stack in a 4’X4’X8’ foot space, or in any three dimensions with a volume of 128 cubic feet. A “face cord” could only be an 8 ft. long stack that is 4 ft. high, but not necessary 4ft. deep and that’s how the scammers get you.
In New Mexico it’s actually illegal to sell fuel wood in unspecified quantities such as face cord, rack, pile, load, loose cord or truckload. If you’re buying packaged bundles at a supermarket this doesn’t apply. So, buyers need to beware.
For safety reasons you should always buy from a reputable firewood dealer. The wood needs to be “seasoned” correctly. It is extremely important that any wood, resinous (like pinon or ponderosa pine) or non-resinous (like oak or aspen), be allowed to completely dry before burning. Drying (seasoning) fresh, green wood may take several summer months to properly dry. Drying time can be shortened by splitting. Damp oak or aspen can create just as much, or more creosote as pinon or ponderosa pine. If the wood you buy is green, it doesn’t yield as much heat as the water needs to burn off before the wood actually burns.
If that’s not bad enough, the combination of water vapor and smoke that creates creosote build-up in your chimney, could lead to chimney fires. So, buying high quality, seasoned wood is the most beneficial to your wood burning stoves and fireplaces and maximizes your heat output.
New Mexico Division of Forestry states, “Wood is a vast, renewable source of heat. Wood can reduce the demand of finite sources of fossil fuels. We will continue to have a bountiful supply of firewood in New Mexico. Using firewood as a source of heat, can help clean our forests of excess fuels that otherwise contribute to dangerous catastrophic wildfires.”
Another interesting point about firewood is that trees actually store solar energy as chemical energy, and is the most efficient alternative fuel as far as the environment goes, since burning them is no more dangerous than allowing them to rot into the soil in forests floors.
Different species of trees emit different levels of heat from their dried wood in the form of BTUs (British Thermal Units). Here are some examples from
One seed Juniper = 21958
Pinon Pine = 18737
Douglas Fir = 15330
Ponderosa Pine = 14085
Aspen = 12576
When storing firewood, it should be stacked outside and away from your structure. It should be protected from rain/snow. More than firewood can be in your wood pile. Check for insects. If insects are present, wood should be covered with clear plastic, in full sunlight. This practice solarizes it and any living insects will die because of the high temperature, which can reach up to 160 degrees under the plastic. The plastic should be sealed to the ground to create a greenhouse effect and keep the heat from escaping.