Introduction: PALLET SAFETY

About: I recently immigrated to Germany. I am living in my first flat with my boyfriend and our cat Napoléon. My hands are always covered in paint and dye.

I personally love using Pallets for projects. Many people do, but it is very important to know what you are using. Pallets are sometimes treated with very powerful chemicals.

So here I will show you what to look for when getting pallets to make sure they are safe for reuse.

Feel free to link this instructuble to any of your pallet project if you don't to rewrite the info yourself!

If you have any additional information you think would be worth mentioning, please let me know. I think it's really important to share this kind of information, especially as pallets are being used more & more for DIY projects. If possible site sources too !


Generally pallets are stamped on both sides.

Codes and what they mean.

IPPC: International Plant Protection Convention, this certifies that the wood has been treated by approved mesures. This does not mean no chemicals though. If you can't see an IPPC stamp, it is not recommended for reuse.


HT: Heat Treating, this is what you should look for. It is a treatment where the wood is heated to the minimum core temperature of the specific to the wood type. It is not harmfull to your health so safe to use.

MB: Methyl-Bromide Fumigation, this is a powerful pesticide used to treat the wood. Though a lot of countries have banned the use of bromomethane in the early 2000s, you can still find it in some places. DO NOT USE MB MARKED PALLETS.

European pallets are sometimes only marked with EUR or EPAL. Europe does not allow chemical treatment. If it is only marked EPAL, its A-ok! But EUR is from the old system so you might still want to be careful with it. The best is to find some with the full stamps.



Colored pallets are not recommended for indoor use. Traces of formaldehyde or other resins can be found on them. Go for the Unpainted ones if you can.

If there are greasy, oily stains on the pallet or unidentified products on it avoid using them.


1001Pallets : Loads of clear info on pallet safety

IPPC : Info on import regulation

TreeHugger : North American pallet safety

ISPM 15 : International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures

Wood Database : Woodworking Dangers

Wood Database : Wood Allergies & Toxicity



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    79 Discussions

    IMHO, since many pallet projects are coated somehow, the danger is minimized; not eliminated, mind you--but minimized. Especially for pallet projects used inside the home in enclosed sparsely ventilated areas. The major danger is inhalation of the dirt-dust and treated wood-dust as one uses power tools (efficient dust-creators) on the pallet wood itself during fabrication. If you are sawing and sanding pallet wood without dust protection, you are courting disaster. Inhaling this stuff has both short and long-term effects, none of them good. Some pallets get soaked in one chemical and re-soaked with another. An irradiated pallet may be fatal. Use caution in lieu of abstinence.

    2 replies

    I'm not entirely sure that irradiated wood (for pest control) is any worse than ordinary - they cook it with a bit of gamma radiation for a short period. This is a very common industrial process and is frequently used on food items and food utensils/storage. I'm confident of the safety of that.

    If you are talking about pallets that might have been used in nuclear industries and that could have been contaminated with radioactive substances - those pallets never leave their site's custody, they are treated as all the other nuclear waste is.


    1 year ago

    Looking for advice! We have two pallets to use for a bed base and have checked markings are all safe, but a bit concerned about some patches of black dots (pic attached). Is this mould? The pallets are dry, so do we still need to get rid of it? What is the best way?! Thanks in advance, fellow makers!


    Any dust is unsafe in volume so use of appropriate dust masks is essential when cutting up anything which produces dust.

    My workplace has hundred of free pallets. They all have different stamps. I believe this has little or nothing to do with the quality of the pallet, or causing a contrasting difference in health. They want the pallets to be sturdy and not harbor bugs. There are many methods for accomplishing this. There are literally NO-NONE-ZERO deaths linked to burning, or using a specifically treated pallet. I assume that these allegations of people being sick are completely made up. Just like marijuana was deemed a health hazard by the government, because it cures too many things, and would cost the gov. money on people needing less medication. Pallet companies want you to buy more pallets in the same way. Pallet companies start these falsehoods, so people won't reuse them, and will have to buy more. I'm not theorizing a conspiracy, BUT I refuse to believe there is any danger until it's documented. Until then, it's not a fact right? Pallets companies would also get sued if people got sick using them. End of discussion, unless somebody has actual evidence that chemicals not only stay with the pallet, BUT ALSO get people sick. Great topic.


    1 year ago

    need pallets ??? contact

    he has a ton of like new pallets for your DIY projects......

    thanks alot I went to er come to find our yes all that mess had gotten into my lungs and caused me to end up with phenmomia my husband will no longer be building inside the home thank goodness hoping to get better soon and get over this once again thanks for the advice

    So before reading this I made a shoerack from mb pallets, luckily the dust didn't make me sick, but is this something I should remove from my home? I stained and varnished it so won't that keep the chemicals sealed in?

    1 reply

    Heya, sorry for the late response.

    Ideally yes, there is always a higher risk with MB pallets. Chances are that it wont affect you, as any "fumes" would be heavier then air and would be low to the ground. But if you have pets or young children, they would be at a risk because they are closer to the ground.

    my husband has been using old pallet's he gets from scrap yards building furniture inside our home wit saws I have asthma and am very sick now could this have anything to do with what he has been doing in our home?

    1 reply


    I am not an expert, but I would imagine it is possible. Even when sanded and cleaned the wood could still be moldy if it had been exposed to rain. If it was chemically treated (MB), it could really make you sick.

    It might not be the pallets either, but if you have them places near your face for long perioss of time (bedhead) or in contact with food, it could be worth removing them for a few weeks and see if you feel any better. You don't need to throw them out straight away as it might not be the cause of your illness.

    Let me know how it goes! I could add it to the instructable if its relevant.

    chemical treated???


    3 years ago

    I have been in the pallet business for 40 years and have loved working in an industry that is highly "green" that produces a product that is readily recycled. All pallets that are produced are safe at the point of manufacture and their safety is determined what is shipped on them. The current requirement of heat treatment does nothing to enhance the safety of the pallet. Heat treatment only assures the country receiving the pallet or box that it has undergone heat of 133 degrees for 30 minutes to kill bugs. It is treatment so as to halt wood pest from entering their country. The best assurance of safety is to ask what was shipped on the pallet. Stay away from chemicals of any kind. If there is signs of light mold. Wash it with bleach to kill the growth. And always stay away from pallets that are marked as ownership by someone asking for return of that pallet.

    thanks useful info

    I'm so glad you put this up! I have been worried for people's health when they use the toxic pallet wood to make dining room tables, outdoor picnic tables or kitchen work tables/isles around their foods. And its still very scarey to think of people sleeping on beds made of them, sitting on chairs made of them, or using them to make side tables and coffee tables. I read a long time ago that you shouldn't use them even to frame vegetable gardens because their toxicity leaches into the garden dirt that your vegetables feed from. Thank you for your very useful and life saving info!

    dose anyone know if it's safe to use pallets only stamped " chemson 3006"? iv looked on the Internet and I'm not sure