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What Is a Rick of Firewood | A Woodcutter Weighs In

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When it comes to heating your home in the winter, many people burn firewood rather than oil to save money. And while most know how to start fires and heat their homes using firewood, many don’t know how much wood is needed to keep their homes warm all winter. This has led some to ask: What is a rick of firewood?

A rick of firewood is considered a stack of wood approximately 43 cubic feet (1.21 cubic meter), but this varies. In general, a rick of wood generally amounts to be about 8 ft by 4 ft (2.43 meter by 1.21 meter) when the wood is cut 16 inches (0.4 cm) long, accounting for about 1/3 of a cord of wood. 

Understanding just how much firewood a certain measurement is can be difficult. Read on to learn more about how much a rick of wood is, what a cord of wood is, and more.

Which Is More, a Cord or a Rick of Wood

When ordering firewood to burn in your home, you may have been asked by your local woodcutter how much wood you wanted to purchase. Likely, the woodcutter sells in units known as “rick” or “cords”.

A cord of wood is always 128 cubic feet (3.62 cubic meters) and most woodcutters cut it to be about 16 in (40.64 cm) long; whereas a rick of wood is a stack of firewood standing at about 8 feet (2.43 meters) by 4 feet (1.21 meter). However, the size of a rick and bundle changes regularly.

If you were to get a rick of wood that is cut at 16” (0.4 cm) long, you would likely receive about 1/3 of a cord of firewood (the equivalent of 43 cubic feet or 1.21 cubic meters). However, if you were to get a rick of wood that is cut at 24” (60.96 cm) long, the rick would account to about 1/2 a cord of firewood (the equivalent of 64 cubic feet or 1.81 cubic meters). 

While most woodcutters make it so 16” (0.4 cm) is the standard size of each piece, some don’t. The only consistent thing is the fact that most ricks stack to 8 feet by 4 feet (2.43 meter by 1.21 meter), even if most ricks of wood are about 1/3 a cord.

How Many Ricks Is a Cord of Firewood?

As mentioned previously, when purchasing firewood, you likely might have been asked if you wanted a cord of wood. How much is a cord of wood? How does a rick of wood compare to a cord of firewood?

There are about 3 ricks in a cord of firewood when cut at about 16 in (0.4 cm) per log. A cord is generally about 128 cubic feet (3.62 cubic feet). This means the cord of wood would account for three rows of 16” (0.4 cm) logs when stacked 8 feet by 4 feet (2.43 meters by 1.21 meters).

About one rick of firewood seasoning outside in a pile
The nicely stacked pile is about one rick.

When selling firewood, most woodcutters base the size of a rick off of the size of a cord. While a rick has not been quantified incredibly precisely, a cord has been standardized. After stacking the firewood, the first row of the stack of three is taken and sold as a rick. This results in the rick amounting to about 1/3 a cord of wood.

Though less common, some woodcutters will also measure out piles of wood that are 43 cubic feet (1.21 cubic meter), 1/3 a cord of wood, and will cut it as they see fit. This means that the rick might not account for one row of firewood stacked 8 feet by 4 feet (2.43 meters by 1.21 meters), but will still be about a third of a cord.

Will a Rick of Wood Fit in a Pickup Truck?

Though ricks of firewood may commonly be sold, it can be incredibly difficult to move a rick of firewood by yourself. A rick of firewood can weigh anywhere between 625 pounds (283.49 kg) and 3,000 pounds (1,360.77 kg), making it difficult to transport. Will a rick of wood fit in a pickup truck?

A rick of wood will fit in most pickup trucks without issue. Without any racks, a small pickup truck, a short bed pickup truck, and a long bed pickup truck can all carry about 1.5 ricks of firewood. Larger trucks with racks can hold even more wood, sometimes up to 4.5 ricks of firewood.

When transporting firewood, it is incredibly important to consider the terrain you will be traveling on and the weight of your load. While nearly all roads are equipped to carry the weight of more than a rick of firewood, if you are on bumpy or uneven terrain, you must consider how the weight is distributed to make sure that you don’t lose any firewood or that you don’t do damage to the truck. While the vast majority of the time there is no issue, it is still worth considering.

Small Pickup Truck Loaded With Firewood
Anymore than this and you’re way overloaded.

Why Do They Call It a Rick of Firewood?

In thinking about the actual term “rick of firewood” you might think to yourself: Where does the term “rick” come from? Is a rick used to measure anything else? Why do they call it a rick of firewood?

The term “rick” comes from the old English word hrēac, a word to describe a stack or pile. The word hrēac was used most commonly by farmers and builders to refer to a stack or pile of hay, rocks, bricks, and more. Since a rick of firewood isn’t a precise amount, using the term makes sense.

In the 1800s after years of imprecise measuring, the British Empire embraced what became known as the Imperial System of Measurement. The United States, founded in the same era, quickly embraced the system as their own. While this made it so that firewood became a precise, quantifiable number, people had become accustomed to the old terms of measurement. While some old measurement terms eventually fell away, “rick” managed to stay popular. 

Why Do They Call It a Cord of Wood?

Similar to a “rick”, a “cord” is, by no means, a normal standard of measurement. In fact, a “cord” is only used to measure amounts of firewood and is not applied to any other objects. Why do they call it a cord?

The term “cord” comes as a standard of measurement before the Imperial System. Traced back to the 1600s, firewood used to be grouped into packages that were tied by a cord. When the Imperial System was adopted, the British decided to keep the term as a measurement for firewood. 

Following the widespread use of the imperial system, woodcutters have since standardized the term to mean 128 cubic feet (3.62 cubic meters) of firewood. Interestingly enough, many woodcutters continue to wrap a cord of firewood in rope or wiring to keep it together. This is more so out of convenience rather than tradition, but the term “cord” has managed to maintain the same meaning after more than 400 years of existence.

How Much Is a Bundle of Firewood?

When not purchasing wood at industrial levels to heat buildings for an extended period of time, many people purchase bundles of wood for shorter-term uses. The term bundle seems, however, to be imprecise. How much is a bundle of firewood?

A bundle of firewood will have about 4-6 pieces of 16 in (40.64 cm), in most cases. However, this isn’t a precise measure. Typically, purchasing a bundle means purchasing somewhere between 0.75-1 cubic feet of firewood. 

A bundle of firewood is normally enough firewood to maintain a warm fire for about three hours, depending on the size of the logs. In most bundles, there will be a few small pieces of wood to start the fire, as well as a few larger logs to keep the fire going once started. Most bundles of wood can be carried by one person, and are sometimes referred to as “armloads”.

Ultimately, when purchasing a “bundle” of firewood, it really depends on how the woodcutter is marketing the wood. Sometimes, woodcutters sell small, medium, and large bundles, while other times bundles are one standardized size. If you are really curious as to how much wood is in a bundle, the best way is to contact the woodcutter and ask for the cubic foot size as a way to compare.

Final Thoughts

While there are a number of different terms for different amounts of firewood, most of these are not standardized and can change based upon the woodcutter’s preference

The best way to figure out how big your wood order is to ask for the cubic foot size of the wood. Most people burn wood at a rate of about 2 cubic feet (0.05 cubic meters) per day. This metric will help you decide how much wood you need.

For more, check out Choosing the Best Firewood for a Wood Stove (And Curing It).

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