Red Flags when choosing Reclaimed Wood or Pallets for DIY/Craft Projects

Although the use of pallet wood is becoming extremely hot property lately, it also comes with some controversy. Before diving into the wonderful world of working with pallet wood, please educate yourself on the dangers involved.

Here are some tips and safety information you should be armed with before carrying pallet wood home for your own DIY projects.

When using pallets in craft and do it yourself projects, you may want to watch out for these possible contaminants related to the different types of wood used to make pallets.

Consider what it carried, while that’s no guarantee that the wood is safe, it’s far safer knowing it wasn’t carrying food products, food by-products, oil drums, chemicals, pesticides and the like.

Avoid: Pesticide carriers (green houses, etc) Contaminants (gas, grease, etc)

Pressure Treated and Fumigated Wood: Some pallet manufacturers use pressure treatment, which are chemicals forced into the wood, like formaldehyde, these are used to prevent decay and pest infestation. However, you may not want to use this chemically-treated wood inside your house, for this same reason. Also, fumigated woos is treated with pesticides, which also isn’t something you want in your house from a health standpoint.

But don’t give up on your pallet projects just yet! There are plenty of pallets and sources of reclaimed wood that are not made of pressure treated or fumigated woods. If you aren’t sure how to identify pressure-treated wood, one way to identify the pallets you may want to avoid using in home decor and furniture projects, is to look for the IPPC logo found on almost all pallets. Near this logo, if you find:
HT – This means the pallet was possibly heat treated with harmful chemicals.

MB – This indicates that the pallet was fumigated with a toxic pesticide, methyl bromide. You may see this mark on some older pallets, as this process is currently not used by most pallet manufacturers.

If you’ve missed recent news reports, shipping pallets have been implicated in a couple of recent cases of bacterial and chemical contamination. Testing confirmed that pallets have issues, and the National Consumers League wants rules enacted

Contamination: You also may want to consider the source of the pallets (however companies tend to reuse pallets, so this may be hard to determine at times) and what type of contamination your pallets may have been exposed to. Things such as water, mold, vermin, insects, chemicals, and even bacteria such as E. coli and Listeria have been found in pallets.

If you are unsure, you can always do a through cleaning of the wood and pain a couple coats of clear coat or oil based paint to seal in any possible contaminants.

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