For countless homesteaders in America, no matter what their location, wood is an important resource. For many, it is that feeling of coziness enjoyed while sitting before a roaring log fire.
Numerous people like myself have an abundance of free wood that is available for collection. However, lots of others are not so fortunate and need to buy firewood.
As with any product price is important, so how much does a bush cord of wood cost?
Some areas will sell a bush cord of wood for $120. Other locations will demand $200 for a bush cord. During the winter however, some states can raise the price to around $400.
What is a Bush Cord of Wood?
As with anything that is bought it is important to be able to identify a method of measuring the quantity or volume.
Once quantified It is then possible to compare the cost of a product to be able to assess its value for money. When we visit the garage for gas, we know that we are going to pay a certain amount per gallon.
A bush Cord of wood is defined as the wood that will fit into a certain area. This area is expressed 4ft x 4ft x 8ft or in terms of volume, this would equate to 128 cubic feet of space.
It is reasonable to expect the wood to be correctly stacked ensuring that the majority of the volume is filled with wood. Due to the irregular nature of wood, this is difficult, an element of space will be included within the measure.
The volume of the bush cord equates to 128 cubic feet. This does not mean that the cord will contain 128 cubic feet of wood. The actual volume of wood is likely to be as low as 90 cubic feet.
There is a variance in the weight of the wood within the measure. The weight could range anywhere between 2,500 lbs. to 5,000 lbs.
Although Some states do not have laws affecting the sale of wood others protect the purchaser by specifying how wood can be sold.
Wood sellers are not permitted to advertise wood for sale by the truckload, they must use the standardized cord measurement.
The law does specify that the wood should not be below a certain size. Cut wood that fits through a 3inch circle cannot be incorporated into a bush cord.
Why the Price Differences?
States with laws covering the sale of wood clearly define the quantity, why then is there such a large variance in the cost? The difference between $120 and $200 is large.
What factors then contribute to the sale of wood that creates such a variance in price?
Type of Wood Is an Important Cost Factor
Hardwood will cost more than softwood for various reasons. This type of wood creates higher levels of heat and takes longer to burn. It also provides a much cleaner burn, with less smoke and less ash.
Woods such as oak, ash, and maple are popular for burning purposes. Although they take longer to grow, they are fairly abundant over large areas of the country.
As with any popular product, prices are higher than the less popular ones. I happen to be fortunate to have an abundant supply of Oak and Almond wood. These both burn to produce excellent quantities of heat, and best of all it is free.
Softwoods such as cedar, pine, and larch are all popular woods that are normally readily available in most areas.
The price of softwood is normally lower since as it burns faster more will be required. This wood can leave a creosote deposit in the chimney creating a potential fire hazard.
Beware of Firewood Delivery Cost
Some suppliers will include the delivery cost within the purchase price for certain delivery distances, whilst others will charge extra for all deliveries.
Consequently, wood that at face value may appear to be value for money will suddenly become expensive when the transport costs have been added. With some transport costs being as high as $100 it is essential to factor any costs into the overall price.
Dry Wood Always Comes at A Premium
Dry well-seasoned firewood burns more effectively and consequently is a preferred product that will demand a premium. The method used to dry the wood is also important. If it has been dried in a Kiln a more complex and costly process compared to seasoned firewood is used.
Clean Wood Is Better than Dirty
Depending on the source and storage of wood it can often be coated with soil, this will affect its burning efficiency. Certain suppliers may leave the wood as it is and charge a lower price whilst others may clean it to charge a higher price.
The size of the Firewood is very relevant
The size and cut of firewood are also an extremely important factor that can have a great effect on the price.
Wood that has been cut to become more consistent or to create shorter lengths will often cost more. The extra cost is to compensate for the extra handling costs involved in its preparation.
Season of the Year Affects Demand
Supply and demand are a factor in the price of most objects and wood is no exception. Few people use wood constantly throughout the year, demand is elevated during winter. Consequently, the price increases at this time of the year.
Location affects the price of wood for two main reasons.
Climatic conditions in different areas of the country will affect the demand for firewood. Warm states will require less wood than Cold states.
Locations that have low levels of locally sourced wood will require extra transportation, and this cost will always be passed on to the customer.
Some who are fortunate may live in an area that has an abundant supply of free wood on civic land. The ability to collect free wood can affect the supply and demand ratio affecting prices.
Some states forbid the collection of firewood in some park areas and try to discourage its transport to reduce pest migration.
Demands on Wood Supplies for Other Uses
Wood is a material that is used by numerous companies for a variety of uses.
It is estimated that 90% of all homes built in America use wood as the major material of construction. The furniture industry also uses large quantities of wood.
Numerous other products such as books, railroad ties, bridges, textiles organic chemicals also use various types of wood in their construction.
Due to the volumes used these other uses have the effect of elevating the cost price for this renewable product. Supplies of the best of wood will be purchased by the highest payers leaving everything else available for the supply of firewood.
How Much does a Bush Cord of Wood Cost?
We have seen the definition of what a bush cord of wood is as specified in law.
$120 is an attractive price, while in some areas $200 or even higher is normal. The average cost for a bush cord of wood could often be as high as $400 especially in the winter months.
We have also seen that the cost of this bush cord of wood varies according to many factors.
- Geographical location
- The type of wood
- How the wood is cut
- The cleanliness of the wood
Multiple factors can affect the price of wood according to the location within the United States.
These various products use both hard and softwoods in vast quantities and have the effect of maintaining high prices for this renewable product. The best of wood supplies will reach to the highest payers leaving everything else available for the supply of firewood.
Three years ago, I bought an off-grid Cortijo in a small valley in the Andalucian mountains. Although, perhaps the lifestyle is in my genes as my grandfather and his four brothers were Homesteaders in Alberta Canada in the 1900s.
The mountains of Spain are a difficult place to grow many of the flowers that I was used to in the UK. However, veggies grow well year-round. Peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber, melons, and chard all fare well in the Mediterranean climate. Almond trees provide me with a cash crop of around 1 ton while still retaining some to make almond milk and flour.
Meet the rest of the Homesteading Hippy team here.