How Much Wood is in a Half Cord? [Firewood Facts]

As the crisp autumn air sets in and the leaves start to fall, many homeowners begin preparing for the cold winter months ahead by stocking up on firewood. Walk into any grocery store or gas station this time of year and you’ll see stacks of firewood for sale–but how much are you really getting?

Terms like “face cord,” “rick,” or “truckload” are sometimes used interchangeably with cords, but the standard unit of measurement for firewood is the cord. So how much wood actually makes up a cord, and what about a half cord? Understanding cord measurements can ensure you get the right amount of firewood.

What is a Cord of Firewood?

A full cord of firewood measures 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long, for a total wood volume of 128 cubic feet. This standard size makes it easy for buyers and sellers to measure and compare value.

When the logs are stacked in a cube shape 4 feet across, they must also reach a height of 4 feet and a length of 8 feet to total 128 cubic feet. Anything less would be considered less than a full cord.

Common Uses for Firewood

There are many reasons homeowners purchase cords of firewood, including:

  • As the primary heat source to warm homes via wood stoves or fireplaces
  • As supplementary heat for ambiance and reducing utility bills
  • For outdoor purposes like fire pits or cooking/grilling

Understanding how much firewood is required to heat a home for a winter is important. Meanwhile, those using it recreationally may opt for smaller amounts like half cords.

What is a Half Cord of Firewood?

As you may have guessed, a half cord contains one half the total volume of a full 128 cubic foot cord, which equals 64 cubic feet of wood.

how much is half a cord of wood

When properly stacked, a half cord measures 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 4 feet long–so the length is half that of a full cord. This makes a half cord convenient for smaller homes or occasional firepit use rather than primary heat.

Why Buy in Half Cords?

There are several advantages to purchasing firewood by the half cord:

  • Half cords take up less storage space.
  • Less upfront cost to purchase.
  • Easier for sellers to transport and deliver smaller loads.
  • Allows buyers to test out a new wood type or supplier on a smaller scale.

For those with limited space to store extra firewood, a half cord may be the perfect amount to get through part of the cold season.

Factors that Affect Firewood Pricing

The cost of a cord or half cord of firewood depends on several factors:

  • Type of wood – Oak, hickory, and other hardwoods are more dense and produce more BTUs when burned. These cost more than softer woods like pine.
  • Whether split or unsplit – Split wood with uniform pieces is easier to stack and burns better, so it commands a higher price than unsplit logs.
  • Seasoned vs. unseasoned – Seasoned firewood that has been dried out for at least 6 months has lower moisture content, so it burns more efficiently and is worth more.
  • Delivery fees – Having cords delivered and neatly stacked often costs extra. Pickup may be cheaper but requires your own labor and vehicle.

Understanding what’s included in the advertised price–and comparing similar types of wood–will give you a better sense of the market rate in your area.

Average Cost of a Half Cord

A half cord typically ranges from $150-$300 depending on the variables above. Oak or hickory may fall on the higher end, while a half cord of unsplit, unseasoned pine could go for less than $200.

Always verify precisely what is included–species, size, seasoning, delivery, stacking, etc.–when buying to be sure you get a fair deal.

Tips for Stacking a Half Cord

To ensure your half cord takes up the full 64 cubic feet of space, here are some tips:

  • Stack rows tightly so pieces interlock and don’t shift or fall.
  • Make sure the height and width measure 4 feet across.
  • Start stacking on blocks or pallets to protect bottom rows from ground moisture.
  • Allow space between rows for air circulation to dry wood faster.

Take time to stack neatly, as loosely thrown piles will not last or dry properly. Cover the top with a tarp to protect from rain and snow.

Where to Store a Half Cord

Look for a level, dry spot preferably with a concrete or gravel base. Options include:

  • Woodshed
  • Garage or carport
  • Covered porch
  • Under an overhang or eave

Avoid direct ground contact which can lead to decay. Place out of the way of foot traffic or vehicles which may knock over stacks.

How to Split Firewood Effectively

Unless purchasing pre-split firewood, you’ll need to split logs yourself before burning. Here are some tips for efficient splitting:

  • Use an axe or mechanical log splitter for best results.
  • Avoid knots, cracks, twisted sections which are difficult to break apart.
  • Position on a chopping block and split with the wood’s grain, not against it.
  • Aim for uniform splits that will stack tightly and allow proper air flow.

Take precautions like wearing gloves and safety goggles when swinging an axe. Move splits from the chopping area promptly to keep your workspace safe and clear.

Splitting By Hand vs. Using a Log Splitter

Splitting firewood by hand takes more time and effort but costs nothing. Log splitters quickly split large diameter logs using hydraulic power but require an initial investment. Determine your needs:

  • Hand splitting – Good for small jobs; doesn’t require expensive equipment.
  • Log splitter – Saves labor; can process a high volume of wood.

Renting a log splitter is a middle ground if you need to split a lot of wood only once or twice a year.

Check Firewood Moisture Content

For best burning, firewood moisture content should be below 20%. Wood with higher moisture won’t produce as much heat.

Use a moisture meter to test your wood. Fresh cut logs can be nearly 50% moisture. After proper seasoning by air drying for 6-12 months, moisture drops to desired levels under 20%.

Signs Wood Needs More Drying Time

  • Dark brown wood that feels cool to the touch
  • Sound of hissing steam when burning
  • Difficulty starting or maintaining a fire
  • Smoke or creosote buildup in stove or chimney

Burning wet, unseasoned wood lowers heat output and leads to more smoke and emissions. It can also clog chimneys with creosote quicker. Let your wood dry out to experience cleaner, hotter fires.

Safely Operating Wood Stoves and Fireplaces

Wood stoves and fireplaces provide ambiance and heat, but also pose safety risks if not used properly. Follow these precautions:

  • Read manufacturer guidelines and only use permitted fuels.
  • Equip stoves and fireplaces with screens and tools.
  • Have the chimney or flue inspected and cleaned annually.
  • Open dampers and air vents fully before lighting.
  • Dispose cooled ashes in a metal container away from combustibles.

Supervise children and pets around lit stoves and fireplaces. Install carbon monoxide detectors for further protection.

Is a Wood Stove or Fireplace Right for You?

Consider the following before installing wood-burning units:

  • Upfront cost of stoves, chimney installations, etc.
  • Regular cleaning and maintenance.
  • Labor and storage space for firewood.
  • Alternatives like gas stoves which may be more convenient.

Modern EPA-certified wood stoves burn over 50% more efficiently than older models, so are worth the investment.

Is a Half Cord of Wood Right for You?

A half cord is a convenient way to purchase a smaller amount of firewood without the space needed to store a full cord. But gauge your winter needs first.

For supplemental heat, a half cord may be just right. If you rely solely on wood to heat your home, multiple cords are likely required.

Also factor in the physical labor to process unsplit logs yourself. A half cord of unsplit wood is a lot of work. Having it delivered split and stacked saves you the effort.

Compare the cost to alternatives like gas or electric heat. While wood is often cheaper, modern systems require less hands-on work while providing steady, even heat.

Take time to analyze your situation and plan ahead:

  • Calculate your estimated full winter firewood needs.
  • Have wood delivered and stacked early, before cold weather sets in.
  • Ensure you have safe storage space available.
  • Inspect wood moisture and allow time for additional drying.

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