Last Updated on October 27, 2021 by Grow with Bovees
If you’ve just got yourself a new fire pit, or perhaps your home heating system is one that runs on firewood, then you will of course need to go out and get a decent amount of quality fuel to burn.
First-timers venturing into the world of buying your own firewood from a vendor often find it a confusing experience as there are a few strange terms that are used but have no fear as we’re going to explain what things like a rick or a cord of wood actually mean and have you purchasing the right amount of wood like a pro in no time!
So What Exactly Is a Rick of Wood?
However, we can’t give you an ‘exact’ answer!
The simple explanation is that a rick of firewood is just a name given to a stack of wood of a certain size.
The name ‘rick’ comes from an old English word meaning a pile or stack of something.
It usually refers to a stack of hay, corn or wood (of course), amongst other things.
The phrase made its way over from England to North America long ago and is still in common use, especially in the Midwest.
The Dimensions of a Rick of Wood
So now we know what it is we’re talking about, you probably want to know the rick of wood dimensions!
Generally speaking, a rick is a stack of wood that measures four feet tall by eight feet long.
Well, that’s the easy part.
Just to throw another confusing term into the mix, something you might hear used when buying your rick of logs is a ‘face cord’.
This is just another name for a rick and relates to a cord of wood (which we’ll cover a little further on).
A face cord of wood can actually come in various lengths or widths depending on where you live or buy it from.
This will determine how much you actually get as the width vary based on suppliers, regions, and what’s available in the local market.
Commonly, the logs are either around 12, 16 or 24 inches long, with 16 inches being the one usually supplied in a usual rick of firewood.
The only way to know exactly what you’re getting is to ask what the width or length of log in the face cord is if buying over the phone, or take a tape measure and check for yourself!
Rick of Wood vs a Cord of Wood — Which is Bigger?
Let’s get this out of the way first — a cord of wood is bigger than a rick of wood!
A cord actually has universal standard measurement, which is 128 cubic feet in total volume, so unlike a rick, you generally know what you’re getting when you order a cord of firewood logs.
So how big is that exactly? Well a cord has the same height and length measurements as a rick (8 foot long by 4 foot high) but is always 4 feet wide. Put another way, the logs in a cord always make up around 48 inches in length and half cords 24 inches.
That makes it not too hard to compare the actual size of a rick to a full cord as they are a fractional portion of the larger stack.
Let’s take a look at the different lengths of log to work it out in a simple free firewood cord calculator.
If your rick has a face cord of 12 inches, then it’s going to be a quarter cord of wood.
Next, if the same logs are actually 16 inches in length, then that particular rick is 1/3 of a full cord.
Finally, when those logs are all 24 inches long, then your rick of firewood is about half a full cord.
That makes it easy to work out what you’re getting. Well, not quite….
How Much Wood in a Rick of Wood?
That’s actually not an easy one to answer as one problem when buying firewood is that logs do not come in a uniform diameter!
How many pieces you actually get in your stack will as a general rule depend on how thick they are when split and how well they’ve been stacked.
We can, of course, guestimate though to get a rough idea.
Traditionally cords typically contain between 550 and 650 pieces of split, seasoned wood, depending on, as already mentioned, how well they’ve been cut and stacked, so that’s a rough maximum amount.
This means that for a rick, you will get around 275 to 325 pieces from each rick or face cord of wood, although you can’t get an exact number.
The Weight of a Face Cord or Rick of Wood
If you’re planning on transporting your new rick of firewood from your wood suppliers by yourself, you will need to know how much the wood weighs and exactly how much wood you need so you don’t overload your truck.
Again there’s no straight answer as this can vary on both the size of the rick, the type of wood that it contains and how well it’s been seasoned.
If you’re buying a heavier type of wood such as white or red oak or any other type of hardwood, then a single cord will probably weigh in at around two and half tons or 5,500 lbs if you prefer.
If that sounds too heavy then look for a softwood cord which will usually contain some type of spruce.
This will be much lighter, but even then will come in at around one and a quarter tons (or 2,500 lbs) for a whole single cord!
If we work out how to give us the weight of a single firewood rick, that means one will weigh from around 625 lbs (around 1/3 of a ton) with the lightest wood to nearly 3,000 lbs (1.5 tons) when packed with the same amount of the heaviest wood, so still pretty heavy.
Choosing a Rick with Good Quality Seasoned Wood
As we mentioned above, another factor that can impact the weight of your face cords is how well the firewood has been seasoned before you buy it and the quality of the hardwood or softwood.
When the tree has been recently cut down, then the wood will still contain lots of sap and moisture, this is known as green wood.
Unless you want to intentionally buy a green firewood rick to season it yourself, then you need to stay away from this type as it will not burn very well.
Let’s assume you want to buy a rick of wood that’s ready to burn.
The wood supplier will take this green timber, cut and split it to the desired size and then stack it under cover for 6-12 months to let it season properly.
How long it takes will depend on the type of wood used and how well it’s been split and then stacked.
Seasoned firewood wood will look grey and have multiple splits in the ends where the wood has cracked as it dries out.
It’s worth making sure you check the pile of wood you’re buying as properly seasoned wood will burn hotter and longer, with less smoke than greener wood.
Seasoning a Rick of Green Firewood Yourself
Of course green firewood will usually come at a discount for a rick of wood, so can be a good buy if you’re prepared to store it properly for a few months.
How long it will take depends mainly on the type of wood you have.
Hardwoods are denser and so will take longer, up to a year and only if stored properly.
Softwoods are less dense and can be seasoned in 3 to 6 months if correctly prepared.
Seasoning firewood is a topic worthy of its own post by itself, but as a general rule, if you follow these basic steps, you won’t go far wrong:
- Split the wood as soon as possible to increase the amount of surface area exposed to the air.
- Stacking firewood in piles off the ground using old pallets or similar.
- Make sure the entire stack is undercover to prevent rain getting on it, but that the sides are exposed to allow plenty of air to flow through the firewood stack.
Of course, if you have your own kiln to dry the wood out, then you can speed this process up considerably as opposed to stacking firewood outside!
Also, ask yourself how much will the wood weigh, as generally speaking, it will be a lot heavier for the same amount of a wood stack that has been seasoned properly.
How Much Will a Rick of Wood Cost?
You’re probably tired of hearing this by now, but in your vendor selection process, how much you pay for your rick of wood logs will depend on a few things:
- Where you live — the region or area you live in (or buy the wood from) can make a huge difference in price of a face cord of firewood.
- The time of year — we live, of course, in a world of supply and demand. Ricks of wood will cost more in the winter than they do in summer in most places.
- Different firewood suppliers or places with firewood for sale will charge different prices, so it’s worth shopping around as there are plenty of vendors.
- The type of wood (hardwood or softwood) plus even the species of tree it came from (red oak, ash, maple etc.) will all make a difference as there are plenty of choices in firewood.
- How the firewood has been seasoned can also play a part — was it air dried or kiln dried, for example.
- The wood measurements (remember we talked about the different lengths you can expect to find earlier). You can of course buy half ricks of wood as well so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting a price for.
So if you take all the above into consideration when you’re budgeting for firewood, you can expect to find a range of prices at suppliers, typically anything in the range of $150 to $250 per rick or face cord at current prices.
Another factor to consider is the delivery fee of your firewood from your wood sellers, which will be an additional cost.
If you’re lucky, you may find different vendors who will offer free delivery to have your wood delivered or maybe offer a discounted price if you order enough stacks.
Will the Rick of Wood Fit in my Pickup Truck?
A rick of wood will usually fit on a decent sized pickup truck or short bed truck, but please do check beforehand that your truck can take the weight!
Refer back to our earlier section on how much wood it could weigh to make sure.
If you don’t have a suitable pickup or truck to transport it yourself, then the firewood supplier will almost help get your firewood delivered to you for a fee.
Make sure you check beforehand, so you know what to expect — a typical cost to have firewood delivered that we’ve seen is around $1 to $2 per loaded mile they have to travel to get it to you from their yard.
Working Out How Many Ricks of Wood You Might Need
Unfortunately there’s no easy way to work this out, but experience will help, so ask your neighbors or friends around you that burn wood how much they generally use (as long as it’s for the same purpose as you need it for of course!).
If you’re just buying your own rick of firewood for a fire pit or just as firewood for campfires then a face cord will last a long time, and you will know when you’re getting near to needing to buy some more.
However, if burning wood is the primary way you heat your home, then you need to make sure you have enough to see you through the depths of winter.
You don’t want to be running out when there’s deep snow outside, and you can’t get more logs delivered for weeks on end.
Once you’ve been through one winter season you will have more of an idea of course, but as a rough guide a single rick of wood should be enough to last between 6 and 10 weeks for a medium-sized house.
That means to get through a whole winter you will need more than one rick, possibly even 2 or 3 ricks, in which case it may be cheaper to buy full cords of firewood at the beginning of winter, so you don’t fall short.
Bear in mind that when buying wood, the type you buy and how long it burns for will have an impact on your usage as well.
Hardwoods tend to burn longer than softwoods, for example, so your face cords will disappear quicker as you will burn the wood faster.
Getting the Best Bang (or Heat!) for Your Buck From Your Firewood
The last thing we’re going to look at is making sure you get the most value from your rick of firewood supplier.
Different types of wood will burn hotter and last longer than others, with extremely dense hardwoods such as black locust or many types of oak topping the BTU charts and being readily available across much of the USA.
BTU stands for ‘British Thermal Unit’ and is the measurement used to show how much heat is generated by something. In our case we can use it to work out what types of wood produce the most amount of heat per full cord.
The higher the number, the better!
It can be a fine balance between the cost of a rick of good quality wood and how long it lasts but generally you are better spending your budget on the best quality hardwood you can find. Check out the BTU chart we linked to for more info.
We hope you found the information we’ve put together here about a rick of wood useful and that it helps you purchase the right amount and type you need to heat your home this winter or whatever else you use it for.
We’re always adding more articles and updating our site with other material so be sure to bookmark us and come back soon.