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How to determine if a wood pallet is safe for use

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I've noticed recently that there is a lot of incorrect or outdated information regarding wood pallets.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

ISPM 15

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.
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copperaxe3 years ago
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**
minnecrapolis (author) 20 days ago
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.
Awesome, thanks again for the great info! Very appreciated.
ChrisG3420 days ago
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!
20150715_153058.jpg
minnecrapolis (author)  ChrisG3420 days ago
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.
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)  ChrisG3420 days ago
Weyerhaeuser Co.
Raymond Sawmill
51 Ellis St.
Raymond, Washington
98577
(360) 942-2442

Mdhizar1 month ago
Here is a picture of the brooder he built out of that crate.
Mdhizar1 month ago
Here is a picture of the brooder he built out of that crate.
image.jpg
Mdhizar1 month ago
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! ??
git2k52 months ago

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

PH-MMC

HT

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

minnecrapolis (author)  git2k52 months ago
McMaster Carr, Heat treated.
SarahB172 months ago
The code
1431183539807-363311372.jpg
SarahB172 months ago
The code
14311838945442058932847.jpg
SarahB172 months ago
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!
1431183539807-363311372.jpg

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!

jgarcia1314 months ago

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

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,

Wanted to post this information for those looking to use pallet wood for growing food, as I am hoping to... http://www.palnetusa.com/a/global-domestic-pallet-standards/pallet-specifications.tpl

soul_drop6 months ago

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

clintonspoutz8 months ago

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!!!

AgentRed17 months ago
Thanks for sharing your wisdom!
RenSingsToo7 months ago

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.57 months ago

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.

freqgirl8 months ago

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

DIRKFOUR9 months ago

2005
100% phase out -except for allowable exemptions such as critical
use exemptions agreed to by the Montreal Protocol Parties

http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr/

then there is this

http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0400.html

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

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!

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.

Windy

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

HBU3 years ago
Thank you. this is one of those little pieces of information that can make all the difference. have a great easter
I agree! Thanks for sharing the knowledge ♥
jezabel331 year ago
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: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr/
MrBillG593 years ago
Yes, great, no chemicals were used in the making of the pallet. But you have NO idea what was transported on the pallet. Who knows what kinds of leaking barrels were carried on top of the pallet and what kinds of chemicals were in them.
And that is why he specifically said "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." He gave a very good amount of great information that can be used to a consumers benefit but in the end it all boils down to using pallets at your own risk.
Thx for the info. Have been considering making a furniture project out of reclaimed pallets, and this really helps clear the air.
eastol2 years ago
I have been trying to find our more info about pallets that have absolutely no markings on them. What I do know is that they come from a manufacturer in the US, they ship medical equipment on them, and they have zero identifiable markings on them. So should I avoid those because I don't know or assume that if they were treated with the "bad stuff" they would have to have markings. Once I am able to determine which manufacturer they are coming from, I can call them, but all the equipment has already been unloaded so I'm not sure. I usually don't see the pallets until the items are already off of them. I only planned to use them for a shelf project in the garage, but I would like to find one for a shelf project in the house.

Any input??
Thanks!
Beuna2 years ago
Thanks for sharing! Having worked with pallets I would recommend always using gloves. Protect yourself from splinters plus I have found black widows on them.
moonchylde2 years ago
Thanks for this info! I've seen so many panicky comments on every instructable that involves pallets, it's nice to finally see someone who knows what they're talking about.
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