Laws define the terms for buying, selling firewood
MARSHFIELD, Mo. — Many people who buy cordwood for their home wood stoves admit they do not understand the transfer process. Some dealers talk in terms of a “rick,” a “rank” or a “pickup load,” the latter term varying by the size of the truck bed and often the gullibility of the buyer.
Others mention a “face cord” and still others talk in terms of a cord or fractions of a cord. Sometimes the definitions vary from dealer to dealer and from locality to locality.
“We would like to think that most dealers are honest, and the transaction is fair. However, this is no way to run a business,” says Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
Schultheis shares here the most common questions he receives about buying and selling firewood, along with his answers to the questions.
Q: Homeowners with wood stoves are stocking up on firewood for their winter heat supply. I understand there is a state law governing how firewood is bought and sold?
A: Yes, by state law, firewood must be sold by the cord or fraction of a cord. It must also be accompanied by a bill of sale in accordance with requirements of the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Division of Weights and Measures. Rick, rank, face cord, truckload and pile are not legal units of measure for sale of firewood.
Q: How much is a cord of wood?
A: A cord of wood measures four feet high, four feet wide and eight feet long, totaling 128 cubic feet. Any combination of these measurements is fine as long as they total 128 cubic feet when the wood is stacked in a compact manner. The value of firewood varies by time of year, demand, variety, quality and most important, informed negotiation by the buyer and seller. Often, it works best to order wood for an entire season to get the best quality and price.
Q: What’s the easiest way to measure a stack of wood?
A: A simple way is to measure the length, width and average height (all in inches) of the compactly-stacked pile of wood. Multiply these three figures together and divide the result by 220,000. The answer is the number of cords. Multiply this number by the dollar cost per cord to get the price the buyer should pay
Q: Any other tips on getting a fair deal when buying firewood?
A: First, don’t pay for the wood until it has been stacked and measured by both the buyer and seller. Second, get a receipt with the seller’s name, address, phone number and vehicle license number, along with the price, amount and kind of wood purchased. Third, if a problem with the seller cannot be resolved, contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s Division of Weights and Measures at 573-751-5639.
Q: Where can I get more information on buying and selling cordwood?
A: Contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center and ask for MU Guides G5450 and G5452, which give details about buying and selling cordwood, and about the burning characteristics and heat content of various woods. Schultheis can be contacted at the Webster County Extension Center in Marshfield by telephone at (417) 859-2044.