Fire wood measurements can be confusing. With terms like full and half ‘bakkie loads’, ‘number of pieces’ and ‘weight’, knowing exactly how much firewood you're buying or selling is often misunderstood.
Although we use these terms interchangeably to describe fire wood, the volume of fire wood is the only official measurement. These other terms present challenges for various reasons:
BAKKIE LOADS – there is a large number of different sized bakkies so be sure to ask what size will arrive.
LOOSE PIECES – what size are the pieces? The most economical sized logs to provide heat effective combustion for household use in a standard sized open or glass fronted fire units are 28-30cm long and 8-12cms wide. Any smaller than this will be eaten up too quickly. Therefore, it is important to check sizing as 1000 small logs will burn much faster and produce less kilojoules of heat than 500 standard sized logs. In addition, counting the pieces when they arrive at your home is not always an option and can be often inaccurate due to human error.
WEIGHT – DRY logs weigh far less than WET logs due to the higher amount of moisture content. A Wet log is determined by the amount of time it has been left to season in the elements since felling. A newly felled log will contain 54% moisture. The optimum moisture content for creation of warmth is between 10-17% moisture content ie seasoned for at least 12 months. The same newly felled standard sized log will weigh in the region of 2kgs, yet the same log after appropriate months of seasoning will weigh around 1kg. Therefore, often the heavier the log, the wetter the log.
TYPE OF WOOD – there are over 600 different species of Blue Gum in SA (Eucalyptus) whose logs differ in appearance from a very white/cream to dark red (interestingly, never blue!). The dark red logs are from a species of the Karrigum tree and produce a very hard wood, which is extremely hard to get going. In contrast, the very white logs tend to come from the Sugar Gum species which is softer, easy to ignite and burns for a good amount of time. The optimum log for household warmth comes from a species of the Sugar Gum tree that has been felled over 2 years ago and has little or no bark.
The ultimate test of course is how long does your delivery of wood last and the amount of warmth it is generating.
VOLUME OF WOOD RECEIVED - So that our clients know exactly what quantity of wood they will receive every time we deliver, we sell our logs in bags, all of which are identical in size (around the size of a heavy weekend suitcase) and all are filled to the same level every time. 24 of these bags, which contain logs all cut to parameters of 26-30cms long and 8-14cm wide, will provide enough wood to last a household, who burn for an average of 5 hours a day, in a standard sized fire place/unit, between 5-7 weeks. The installation of a glass fronted enclosed fire unit or stove will prove even more economical as the heat produced and longevity of warmth they generate is greater than an open fire place. The cost of this quantity is R1368 including vat, delivery and stacking within the Southern Suburbs. This equates to around R33 per day.
For those of us that love stats, the cubic measurement of 24 of The Fire Man’s bags of blue gum when stacked in your store would be approximately 3m wide x 30 cms long and 1.0m high which equates to 0.9 cubic meters. Our logs contain between 10-17% moisture content guaranteed so you can burn your logs immediately. The amount of heat produced from 24 bags of blue gum contains the heat equivalent of about 4 million BTU’s. By way of comparison this is more or less equivalent to the heat value in 135 litres of fuel oil or 200 litres of liquid propane gas.
WHY THE PRICE INCREASES YEAR ON YEAR?
The production of dry and seasoned fire wood is a long process. To achieve a moisture content of between 10-17%, the time involved is a minimum of 12 months unless kiln dried. 75% of our stock comes from dead or fallen trees that have been lying in the elements for over 2 years. Once a fresh tree is felled, it is chopped into poles using petrol chain saws and axes. The poles are then transported by petrol driven tractors to a cutting area where they are cut into logs using petrol driven or electrical powered log splitters. The logs are then transported to a drying area (usually a vacant field) by tractor. The logs are then sprayed regularly with water (rain is ideal) as water attracts moisture evaporation from the logs as the sun and wind take their hand in the drying process. The logs are turned monthly using tractors and once the desired moisture content is achieved, the logs are bagged manually, loaded onto a 34 ton interlink vehicle and transported to our depot in Diep River. We then bring your wood order in one of our vehicles to your home. Most log production in the Western Cape takes place where the weather is extreme, up to a maximum of 3 hours from Cape Town centre. Most of these stages of log production involve fuel and transport costs which rise year on year.
An often ignored fact is that fire wood is also subject to vat. It is not exempt in any form and it is illegal to sell without charging vat once a company exceeds the minimum turnover threshold.
Expenses such as vehicle insurance, public liability insurance, staff welfare, and vital health and safety measures must not be compromised in such a manually reliant and heavy duty industry. These all come at a cost but has resulted (in our case), in a happy, productive and safe environment for all our employees and farm partnership projects.
We wish you a warm and cosy winter ahead!