How to Know If Wood Pallets Are Safe to Use


There are countless ways to use wood pallets for various projects around your home or business. The reason why wood pallets are so popular is because they are relatively easy to find and good source of  inexpensive wood, sometimes even free.

Some sources to find pallets are on Craigslist (often in the free section), behind stores-specifically stores that sell heavy appliances or yard items, and even on the sides of streets just waiting to be picked up.

There are some pallets that you do not want to use in your home projects even if they are free. The reason is because sometimes these pallets are treated with chemicals that could be harmful to you, your family, pets or your environment.

Most of the time the pallets have stamped markings on them so that you can easily identify what is safe or not safe for re-use.  Here is what you will be looking for:


Photo By Penyulap (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The most important element on this stamp is whether it says HT or MB near the bottom right of the IPPC symbol.

International Plant Protection Commission (IPPC) has been established to help prevent the spread of insects, fungus and mold between countries and especially, continents.

If you see MB then don’t use and leave it alone because it has been treated with methyl bromide. Methyl bromide is a dangerous chemical – dangerous to both people and the environment.

If it says HT it has been heat treated (56°C for softwood and 60°C for hardwood) for killing any insects or pests and is generally safe to use for projects.

If there are no markings on the wood it usually means these pallets have been manufactured for domestic use only. They haven’t been treated by heat or chemicals and are generally safe to use.

However, a word of caution. It’s the best practice to find out, if you can, what the pallets were used for before you found them. Make sure that harmful materials or chemicals were not spilled onto the pallets. You don’t know what you will be exposing to your family and environment.

This video goes into even more detail about identifying safe pallets.

Take a look.

Video source izzy swan

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