You may think that pallets are gross and unsafe to be in your home or near your family. Well there are a few ways to insure that you are getting a safe pallet. More and more companies are starting to use heat treatment instead of Methyl Bromide fumigation. Methyl Bromide is banned in Canada because it can cause health issues for the workers and anyone else that finds and uses them. Pallets are now required to carry an IPPC logo that informs us of which method of treatment is being used. These logos are a two letter Country code, a unique number given by the National Plant Protection Organization, HT for heat treated or MB for methyl bromide and DB to signify that it was debarked. The cleanest pallets you can get are the heat treated and debarked. There are some additional codes that can go on pallets but those are the ones to watch for. If there isn’t an IPPC code on it you know to probably stay away from it. A pallet may be perfectly safe without a logo but it could also mean that it was treated with chemicals that you don’t want in your home around pets and children. Also be careful about oily pallets or ones that have clearly had something spilt on them.
There are many rumors about the dangers of using pallets in the home because they are pressure treated. They in fact are not pressure treated and most pallets in Canada and the US are safe to use around the home especially ones with the IPPC loges. Wooden pallets manufactured in Canada or the US are used for international trade and undergo a pest treatment which is the heat treating I talked about. They heat the pallets to a minimum core temperature of 56 degrees Celsius for soft woods and 60 degrees for hardwoods for a minimum of 30 minutes in a kiln. This kills all the unwanted pests that may be living in the wood and prevents cross boarder pest contamination.
Some pallets in Canada are made of plywood (thin sheets of wood glued together). These pallets are not treated because the construction process of the wood it thought to kill the pests already.
Even if the pallets have the necessary logo there is still risk of contamination from the material that the pallets carried. So still make sure you keep an eye out for pallets, especially around grocery store, for spills that could cause bacteria in porous wood. Also keep an eye out for gross residue, oil stains, mold or any unsettling smells. Avoid ones that have been sitting out in the rain for long periods of time.
Make sure the wood is in decent shape. You may ruin some boards while dismantling, so try to start off with pallets that aren’t cracked, bowed or warped. Look at the nails that are used, if they are partially twisted, it will make it hard to dismantle.