One of the questions our customers most frequently ask is, “How much firewood do I need?” We can sense the tension in their voices when they ask this. They’re usually worried about either buying too much or not enough. Perhaps you feel the same way.
For this reason, we always give a hopeful and upbeat answer to break the tension.
“Less,” we say.
“What do you mean less?” our customers reply.
“We mean you’ll need to use less of our wood for your purposes than you would if you bought traditional seasoned firewood,” we reply. “This is because we only produce kiln-dried firewood with the best-burning hardwood species, like cherry, hickory and oak. The wood burns hotter and more efficiently, so you’ll need less of it to keep a good fire going.”
This answer always seems to brighten their day. Hopefully, it’s brightened yours and made you more eager to determine how much of this premium wood you should get.
Of course, the answer to this question depends on many factors—chief among them being how you’re planning on using the wood.
In this post, we’ll help you sort out those factors to calculate the amount of wood you’ll need. We’ll also give you general guidelines for how much our customers typically need in the Greater Minneapolis region.
Let’s get started, shall we?
How Much Firewood Do I Need for Winter?
Homes in the Twin Cities region that use firewood as their only heating source will typically need 3-6 cords of firewood for the harsh Minnesota winters. (A single cord is 128 cubic feet of firewood, which is enough to fit in a 4’ x 4’ x 8’ cube and weighs about 3,000 lb. on average.)
Of course, you’re probably wondering whether your home can get by with three cords or if you’ll need closer to six. And what if you don’t use wood as your primary heating source and only for occasional indoor fires instead?
Don’t worry. We’ll help you pin down a more precise number of cords you should buy for the winter. Here are some guidelines for determining how much firewood you need:
How Much Winter Firewood Do I Need Calculator
Are you transitioning from another primary heat source to firewood? If so, then there are a few simple calculations you can do to figure out the number of cords to purchase. Follow these steps:
- Find out how many gallons of fuel you used to heat your home last winter.
- Multiply the number of gallons by the number of BTUs per gallon for your fuel type. Record the answer as the total BTUs you need to heat your home.
- Find the number of BTUs per cord for the type of wood you’ll use to heat your home.
- Multiply that number by the efficiency of your wood stove or fireplace in decimal form. The resulting number is your wood-burning efficiency.
- Divide the total BTUs you need by the wood-burning efficiency and round the answer up to the nearest whole number. The answer is how many cords you need per winter.
If you don’t want to do all that math, you can also estimate the amount you’ll need based on the square footage of your home. Experts typically recommend 2-3 cords of wood per every 1,000 square feet for homes in frigid climates like ours.
You’ll probably be okay using less wood if you have hot-burning hardwood like hickory or oak and have a highly efficient wood-burning appliance.
Amount Needed for Occasional Wood Burning
You won’t need nearly as much firewood if you don’t rely on it to heat your home. If you only use it for an occasional fire once or twice a week, then a half cord will probably be enough to last you all winter long. A half cord contains 64 cubic feet of firewood.
How Much Firewood Do I Need for Camping?
Determining how much firewood you’ll need for your next camping trip starts with figuring out how much wood you’ll need for a single campfire. Generally, sustaining a campfire for one hour requires about 1 cubic foot, or 8-12 pieces, of firewood. You can purchase this amount in the bagged bundles sold by most firewood providers.
But we’re guessing you’re going to want more than a one-hour fire during your trip. The number of many hours of fire you want will determine how many bundles you should get. For example, two three-hour fires will likely require six bundles.
However, you may need more than this if the weather is going to be poor or you’re planning on cooking over the firewood.
Cold, wet and windy weather conditions will make the fire go out more quickly. Therefore, we recommend adding an additional bundle or two to your total if you expect poor weather on your trip.
Successful cooking over a campfire requires additional heat beyond what it typically takes to keep you warm. So, we also recommend adding a bundle if you know you’ll be doing some serious cooking over the flames. (We’re talking more than just marshmallows here.)
How Much Firewood Do I Need for a Fireplace?
A standard-sized fireplace can typically burn about four 16-inch firewood logs at a time. These logs will burn for about one hour in open wood-burning fireplaces before you need to replenish the fire with more wood.
However, the same logs will burn much longer and produce more heat in closed-combustion fireplaces. The reason for this is closed combustion fireplaces are much better for controlling the airflow to fires and preventing heat loss up the chimney. Therefore, you can probably manage a 3–4-hour fire in your closed fireplace with less than a bundle of wood. But it will take 1-2 bundles to achieve a similar length in an open fireplace.
If you like to create a fire in your fireplace every now and then but don’t do it regularly, we recommend purchasing a mini stack. This single row of wood measures 2’ wide x 4’ high and contains about 80 pieces. You can easily store it indoors and grab a few pieces of wood whenever you feel like snuggling up by the hearth.
How Much Firewood Do I Need for a Fire Pit?
The amount of wood you need for your fire pit will depend on the size of your fire pit. But an average amount for a standard fire pit is about 1 cubic foot, or 8-12 pieces, per hour. So, 2-3 bundles should last you for a relaxing evening in your backyard.
However, you may need more than this amount if it’s a particularly windy, wet or cold night. So, we recommend getting an additional bundle if the forecast looks less than ideal.
How Should I Store Any Extra Firewood I Purchase?
As you can see, how much firewood you need can vary from day to day, depending on the weather and other factors. For this reason, it’s wise to purchase firewood in bulk so that you’ll have extra ready in case you need it. But this plan will only work if you stack and store your firewood properly.
To do this, you must have enough indoor or outdoor space to keep the wood. If you choose to store it outdoors, you need to put something over the wood to shield it from the rain. This can be a loosely secured tarp or a covered log store. Either way, you also need to stack the wood so that it’s off the ground and there is space for air to flow between the pieces. This way, the breeze can dry the wood if it happens to get wet.
For best results, we recommend storing kiln-dried firewood indoors. The wood is 100% safe to store inside because the kiln-drying process purifies it from all bugs, mold and fungi. Store it in a cool, dry place, such as a basement or crawlspace, to keep humidity from compromising the quality of the wood. It’s also a good idea to stack the wood off the ground and with space for airflow between the pieces when storing it indoors.
By following these storage best practices, you’ll get the most value out of all the wood you purchase.
Did You Figure Out How Much You’d Like to Get?
We hope this guide has given you a better idea of how much wood you should get. Multiple bundles should last you through a camping trip, and multiple cords, through the winter months.
While it’s not always easy to determine an exact amount you’ll need, keep in mind that it’s always better to get too much than too little. After all, you can always store it up and save it for later.
If you’re still not sure how much to get, we’d be happy to help. Feel free to call at 507-280-7780 or stop into our business in Rochester, MN, to talk to one of our firewood experts. We’ll answer any questions you have, and you can check out our top-quality kiln-dried firewood for yourself.