Introduction: How to Determine If a Wood Pallet Is Safe for Use

Picture of How to Determine If a Wood Pallet Is Safe for Use

I've noticed recently that there is a lot of incorrect or outdated information regarding wood pallets.

My company makes dozens of pallets each day so I thought I would clear the air in regard to new pallets in the U.S.

Step 1: NPPO/IPPC Standars

Picture of NPPO/IPPC Standars

More companies are starting to build one-time-use pallets or using heat treatment rather than Methyl Bromide fumigation.

Pallets now require an IPPC logo which certifies that the pallet was heat-treated or fumigated with Methyl Bromide.

The standard is a 2 letter country code (xx), a unique number (000) assigned by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), HT for Heat Treatment or MB for Methyl Bromide, and DB to signify debarked.

The logo in the first image shows that it was produced in the U.S., the material was provided by 11187 (Unique number assigned to the producer), it was heat treated (HT) and was verified by PRL (Package Research Laboratory)

Step 2: Things to Consider

Picture of Things to Consider

The logo in the second images shows that it has also been debarked

This pallet is about as clean as they get. It was heat treated, produced in the U.S. and debarked.

There are some additional codes that can go on pallets but the main one to watch out for is MB. It means it was treated with Methyl Bromide.

If you don't see an IPPC logo then you know not to use it. While a pallet may be perfectly safe without the logo, it could also mean it was treated with chemicals.

Another issue is what has spilled on the pallet. I'd be careful, personally, about oily pallets or ones that have clearly had something spilled on them.

Step 3: Reference

Here are some links to the laws:

Federal Mandate

IPPC Standards FAQ


Also, keep in mind that many pallets are used for international shipping. While most industrialized countries have an NPPO, not all do. That means the country may not comply with the standards of other countries.

For the most part, if you stick by these guidelines and don't make a food cutting board from a pallet, you should be safe using them for projects.

As with any project involving cutting wood, you should always use a mask to keep from breathing in particles and pollutants.


copperaxe (author)2012-03-16

Good job I love it when people on the inside of whatever drop some info to the public. Methyl Bromide, gonna have to look that up but I think thats what is being used now instead of the old (better working though) arsenic composition used years ago for preservative/ pest control in lumber.

**Never burn treated lumber in a fireplace, plywood and OSB/ particle included**

jfowler8 (author)copperaxe2016-04-30

**Never burn treated lumber in a fireplace, plywood and OSB/ particle included**

Seems like that would be common sense, but I see people burn it. They have no clue what they are doing to the environment!

AaronC133 (author)jfowler82016-05-24

What happens if they aren't burned?

DannyG30 (author)2017-06-04

Pallet only marking PPG OT07-15 is it safe?

AdenT5 (author)2017-04-11


RBO what does this mean

kathymccown (author)2017-03-25

Can anyone tell me what these codes on the pallets mean? HT with MLP under the HT, BCP, and MH. I have looked all over and can't find these three designations anywhere. Thanks!

RTD1954 (author)2012-07-17

Thanx. I typically use pallets for firewood. Can I assume that if it says HT, that it has no chemicals and can be used for firewood (open fire pit, back yard or camping... not indoors)

minnecrapolis (author)RTD19542012-07-17

If it says HT then, by law, that means Heat Treated and no chemicals.

I know many people burn pallets. I don't see why you couldn't. I guess you just have to hope the company producing the pallet is being honest.

Just because it says HT doesn't mean it is safe. It could have been heat treated 5 years ago and every board on it replaced with a non HT board.

Again, not legally unless you're a shady company and like fines.

Pallet12345 (author)2017-03-11

This article is written by someone who doesn't even work in the pallet industry. Let me tell you just because it says HT doesn't mean it is safe.

How can you be so wrong in such a short comment?

Legally they can't just swap out boards that don't match the HT label.

Does it happen? Sure, but not usual unless the business is shady.

GinnyS7 (author)2016-03-23

Thank you for the information.

DeborahR20 made it! (author)2015-11-09

i made this coffee table from a pallet i brought from Lowes-- I sanded some of it and poloy the rest. I used cedar wood for the base. Can you tell me is the pallet safe? this is the only code on the pallet.

TeresaM7 (author)2015-09-23

Thank you! The shelving in my shed won't be a problem either way, but when I start making planters/raised garden beds, I'll need this information. Well done, sir, for sharing the much needed information!

Scottap74 (author)2015-09-20

Wondering if this is a chemical treated pallet .can anyone help.

minnecrapolis (author)2015-07-15

The IPPC stamps are now voluntary for US companies.

The other issue is that they can put them anywhere on the pallet. Many will put them on a foot and they wear away quickly.

That said, most will voluntarily adhere to IPPC.

The fact that yours is from Weyerhaeuser means it's very likely a clean pallet.

ChrisG34 (author)minnecrapolis2015-08-01

Awesome, thanks again for the great info! Very appreciated.

ChrisG34 (author)2015-07-15

Hi minnecrapolis, I was hoping someone could help me identify this pallet i recieved a year ago. I had a furniture item delivered to my home on it. It is in excellent shape, basically brand new, and i want to use it for a bar top. Is it safe? Its heat treated, and smells like fresh timber. I cant identify it, thanks a ton!

minnecrapolis (author)ChrisG342015-07-15

So yes, assuming it is new and hasn't had chemicals spilled on it, it should be safe.

I assume you plan to poly it with a few coats so that should make it even safer.

Would I make a set of plates out of it? No. I wouldn't do that with any pallet.

ChrisG34 (author)minnecrapolis2015-07-15

Awesome, thanks for the info! Glad that it was made in the US. Yes, I absolutely plan on using poly to seal, after staining. Is it common for national manufacturers to leave the ippc stamp etc, off of pallets like this?

minnecrapolis (author)ChrisG342015-07-15

Weyerhaeuser Co.
Raymond Sawmill
51 Ellis St.
Raymond, Washington
(360) 942-2442

Mdhizar (author)2015-06-10

Here is a picture of the brooder he built out of that crate.

Mdhizar (author)2015-06-10

Here is a picture of the brooder he built out of that crate.

Mdhizar (author)2015-06-10

I have a very old pallet. It has the stamp IN-002 MB in blue letters on it. It is at least a couple years old and was used to transport tile. My question is about the safety of this wood. My husband just used it to make a place for our two week old chicks to live in for a few more weeks until they are ready to move outside. There is no exposed wood to the chicks because he covered the inside with metal wiring. When we check on the chicks we end up touching the wood pallet. Just wondering if MB dissipates after time or if this is still dangerous to have in our garage and for the chicks to be so close (but not touching) the wood treated with MB? Thanks for your help don't want any dead of deformed chicks! ??

git2k5 (author)2015-05-28

hi! can someone determine the name of the supplier for a stamp with the following information:



What's MMC? is that the supplier? or just a code by some supplier which you cannot determine who?

minnecrapolis (author)git2k52015-05-28

McMaster Carr, Heat treated.

SarahB17 (author)2015-05-09

The code

SarahB17 (author)2015-05-09

The code

SarahB17 (author)2015-05-09

Great information thank you. I'm from the UK and looking for some advice on a pallet I brought home from work today.
It has the markings PF 1330C. The 0 could be an 8 I'm not too sure.
I've looked online for quite a while, trying to find what this means and if it is safe to use in my home.
I brought another pallet home today also, that one has the IPPC logo, and is debarked and heat treated, but this other pallet is puzzling me!
If anoyone could help me out, I'd greatly appreciate it, thank you!

crystal.clayland (author)2015-04-01

If we are thinking of using pallets for raised beds and planning to line them with a natural paper lining would it then be safe? Or do you still recommend only using a heat treated pallet? By the way your information was very informative...thank you!

jgarcia131 (author)2015-03-27

Thank you for the Info ,this will help , I just started using Pallets for projects .

john.r.cunliffe.3 (author)2015-02-19

Unfortunately, out of 45 pallets I picked up in 2014, only 1 (one) had this certification.

For that readon, I ould stay away from using pallets for nything food related even growing food in the garden,

anordinarygirl (author)2015-01-26

Wanted to post this information for those looking to use pallet wood for growing food, as I am hoping to...

soul_drop (author)2015-01-18

Great information...thank you very much for taking the time to share these details.

clintonspoutz (author)2014-12-01

I recently installed pallet wood in my home I did not research which kind of pallets to use. The boards are marked MB if I seal the boards are they safe? HELP!

As long as it is not a cooking surface and you put a couple layers of polyurethane on it, it should be fine. You will need to coat all of the surfaces with the polyurethane. If you only coat the top and the side it will still off gas the methyl bromide from the bottom and it can poison you. DO NOT USE THIS AS A FOOD SURFACE!!!

AgentRed1 (author)2014-12-30

Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

RenSingsToo (author)2014-12-29

It may be just my internet tonight, but 2 of your three links don't seem to work for me. Could you check it out for me? Thanks! Thanks for the info, too!

tim.henslee.5 (author)2014-12-25

Yes as a trucker i can tell you that just because it says something on the outside you cannot tell what it has been used to haul. Anything from just bare wire to make bearings to herbicides to toilet paper to hardware for caskets to Medicines. Almost everything is hauled on a truck on a pallet at some time of its life.I know because i've delivered to places that had RR cars that were used for hauling radioactive materials to be disposed of.

freqgirl (author)2014-11-26

Thank you. I had no idea that some pallets were treated with chemicals. Now I know what to look for and I feel safer.

DIRKFOUR (author)2014-11-05

100% phase out -except for allowable exemptions such as critical
use exemptions agreed to by the Montreal Protocol Parties

then there is this

bethany.kennedy.92 (author)2014-08-13

Thanks so much. I can get free broken pallets for my kids to use but have always been concerned about safety. Really easy!

Poopieloops (author)2014-04-20

I just brought home 2 gently used pallets that were used in the shipping of a solid wood, stained front door. The wood says HT (heat treated) from Canada and doesn't not have a stamp anywhere for the chemical MB. I plan on using these for a standing herb/flower/veggie garden. Do you think the wood would be safe? I don't need anymore contaminants in my daily consumption. The pallets themselves look pretty new, with the exception of minor rubbing stains from shipping. I would also like to possibly stain these an oak color. Should I avoid all stains period when growing food? Do they make food grade accepted stains that can use? Any comments are appreciated!

Windy Miller (author)Poopieloops2014-06-22

Hey Poopieloops - we've been using pallets for years to build various projects, personally I would say if you are going to use them for growing food - be extra careful about adding dyes and stains as those bad boys can have some nasty chemicals in them. Look out for pet/child/environment friendly stains if you use one at all, that way you know they have kept the nasties to a minimum.


niceday8888 (author)2014-05-05

Thank you for sharing. With knowledge, people can made informed decision.

HBU (author)2012-04-05

Thank you. this is one of those little pieces of information that can make all the difference. have a great easter

twarren-peoples (author)HBU2014-03-22

I agree! Thanks for sharing the knowledge ♥

jezabel33 (author)2013-12-01

Methyl bromide is a pesticide that has been mostly phased out under the Montreal Protocol due to its impact on the ozone layer. There are many, cheaper ways to fumigate and treat wood and another products. See:

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