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From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: Rick of wood
Date: Fri, 21 Oct 2005 22:59:19 -0400
Message-ID: <>

**sigh** Won't that myth ever end?  Seems like I have this argument at
least once a week from itinerant woodcutters who stop by my restaurant
to try to sell me firewood.

From the Random House Dictionary:

rick (rik), n.
1.	Also, hayrick. Chiefly Midland U.S. a large, usually
rectangular stack or pile of hay, straw, corn, or the like, in a
field, esp. when thatched or covered by a tarpaulin; an outdoor or
makeshift mow.
2.	a stack of cordwood or logs cut to even lengths.
3.	a frame of horizontal bars and vertical supports, as used to
hold barrels in a distillery, boxes in a warehouse, etc.
4.	to form grain into a stack or pile.
5.	to stack (cordwood) in ricks.


In other words, a rick is a pile.  No dimensions specified.

A cord of wood is a pile 4X4X8 or 128 cu ft.

A FACE CORD is generally accepted to be a 4 X 8 ft stack of wood cut
to whatever length.  This is what a lot of people seem to think a rick
is.  It's not.  A rick is a pile.  Period.

Convenient measurements to know:

A short bed, full size (not toy truck) non-step-side pickup truck load
of wood, stacked tightly and gently rounded is about 1/3 cord.

A long bed truck load, gently rounded and stacked tightly is pretty
close to 1/2 cord.

If one buys a lot of firewood, he should buy it by volume.  Measure
the wood AFTER it has been unloaded and tightly stacked on the wood
pile.  Randomly thrown sticks in a truck bed represent about a third
less than tightly packed wood.  Some sleezebag sellers will
random-throw most of the wood into the truck bed and tightly stack a
cover layer.  None of that works for them when you measure AFTER

Buy by the cord and nothing else.  Measure length, width and height of
the pile in decimal feet, multiply together and divide by 128.  That
yields the number (and fractions) of cords in the pile.  My policy is
that if the seller insists on selling me a "rick" and won't listen to
reason, I decline to purchase.

The going rate around here for hickory is $100 per cord, split,
delivered and stacked.  Mixed hardwood is $80.  I buy at least 50
cords a year so I get to do a lot of measuring.  I catch the "rick"
crap so much that I've made up a handout explaining what a rick and a
cord is and detailing how I measure and price what I buy.  Some
sellers accept the education and some go looking for some other


On Sat, 22 Oct 2005 00:57:57 GMT, "josh" <> wrote:

>"Randy" wrote
>> Whats a rick of wood ?
>> New term to me.
>4'x8' stacked, with one row of length of the stick.

From: John De Armond
Newsgroups: misc.rural
Subject: Re: Do You Agree With....?
Date: Mon, 29 Oct 2007 08:21:30 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Ummm, well, let's see.

He says that madrone wood is the best firewood.  Hmmmm.  Never heard of it. Google...
OK, here it is

Hmmm, must be a california thang.  Checking this chimney sweep's web page.  $300/cord
for softwood? Yep, california.  His know-it-all tone confirms it.

The best firewood is, of course, hickory.  $75-100 per cord, cut, split, delivered
and stacked in these parts.  Oak is second best.

About dried wood.  Somewhat true but not nearly as important as his hysterical
writing suggests.  Summer-seasoned (cut in early spring, burn in fall and winter)
hickory and oak are just fine.  Even fresh hardwood has its place.  It is useful to
regulate the speed of the burn without having to smother the fire.  It is also useful
to limit the heat output in moderate weather.  Yeah, more heat goes up the chimney
but so what?  A fire can only be built so small and if that still produces too much
heat, let some go up the stack.

As for softwood (pine, etc), if it's dry then it can be burned in a hot, excess air
fire without generating creosote.  It makes very little heat, however, and is
probably not worth the work required to collect it even if it's free.  I do keep some
pine around though, again, for those mild days when I want a fire but not much if any
heat.  A few sticks of pine in an open fireplace makes a very nice cool fire.

As for the rest of his site, just view it for what it is, shameless promotion using
fear-mongering and "it's the law" crap.  Yeah, it's a good idea to inspect a chimney
at the beginning of every heating season but that's easily enough done with a mirror
and a flashlight from the bottom end.  Or even easier in these modern times, with a
small CCD TV camera on the end of a stick.  Sam's sells a nice one that I use for
just that for about $30.

As for his maniacal raving about chimney fires, well....  Let me put it this way...

Several years ago I engineered a condensing wood burning heating system.  Key on the
word "system".  It was designed end-to-end to extract as much heat as possible by
condensing the flue gas.  The flue system was engineered both to withstand the heavy
creosote build-up and to be self-cleaning via intentional flue fires.  I designed a
gas jet into the base of the flue to periodically ignite a flue fire.  Then to clear
the ashes, I dropped an M-80 firecracker down the flue on the end of a string.  One
blast and the flue was clean.

Despite the system being engineered to be condensing and despite the (anticipated)
heavy creosote buildup, I NEVER saw a flue fire like the one pictured here:

Nor have I ever seen such a fire in my several years as a volunteer fireman.

No idea where that photo came from.  It's obviously an unlined non-refractory flue
block chimney (not code compliant for decades now).  Either the chimney was almost
plugged from creosote or the fire was a set up, with flammable materials added to the
flue to make it more spectacular.

I designed a heavy stainless steel spark trap to cap my flue.  During the intentional
flue fire the trap would get red hot but after the creosote burned out of the trap
itself, there was little flame escaping.


On Mon, 29 Oct 2007 05:31:21 -0500, (Ronny TX) wrote:

>Do you agree with the following webpage where it starts off by saying
>this? "It does not matter what kind of wood you burn: as long as it is
>really, truly seasoned. In the case of hardwoods, especially oak, they
>must be seasoned for over one full year! That means last year's wood -
>NOT this years wood! If you're wondering about which wood is really the
>best, or what causes the least creosote to build up, the answer is the
>same! Properly seasoned wood produces the most heat, and produces the
>least creosote! It's not the kind of wood you burn that makes the
>difference, but whether or not the wood is seasoned. Firewood that
>hasn't been split for over a year isn't worth a darn! On the other hand,
>dry well seasoned wood is just great! Seasoned wood burns hot and
>clean!....." There's a lot more on this page;but it's basically saying
>that of course,you get more heat out of a cord of hardwood as compared
>to a cord of softwood. But it also says that soft wood like pine makes a
>perfectly good hot,low creosote fire as long as it is well seasoned and
>dry. What I've always heard is that any softwood,like pine,produces a
>lot of creasote;but this guy says it does not,as long as the pine is
>dry,well seasoned.

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