Is It Safe to Burn Wood from Pallets?

Recently bought a silverfire rocket stove and want to know if wood from pallets is safe to burn or have they been treated with some kind of chemical? I see thousands of pallets get thrown out on construction sites and want some free unlimited firewood.

Comments

  • +11

    https://plainpallets.com.au/resource-centre/are-pallets-trea...

    If only there was a way of looking that up…

    • -3

      Any textbox on a webpage = search for answer.

      • +1

        As firewood
        You cannot use methyl bromide treated pallets as firewood since the pesticide will be released with the smoke when the pallets are burned. You can burn heat treated pallets safely since they have not been chemically treated.

    • This is the ONLY valid answer

  • -3
  • +1

    IMO … many "plain pallets" are untreated - atleast at my workplace.

    We have a huge skip bin which we put plain pallets into … Then once a month, the company comes along and collects the skip bin - That company actually pays us $$$ to collect the skip bin … so must be money to be made.

    For you personally to find a source may be an issue (unless you know someone) … as these days due to OSH, they don't just let randoms come onsite to collect oddball pallets.

    Source : I work for a major transport company.

    • +2

      Most Bunnings stores have pallets free for the taking. You can also find pallets on the nature strip in many industrial estates, but I'd ask the businesses before taking them.

      I don't burn them, though - I make stuff out of them. I don't think there's a lot of heat value in pallet wood.

      • +2

        I make stuff out of them, too and use the offcuts to start my fire.

  • +1

    Unless it's seasoned, untreated hardwood then you are doing the wood heater thing all wrong.

  • +3

    If the pallet is made from pine then it will burn very hot and quickly, which is not what you want.
    If the pallet has any color to it that is not real wood then it will have been treated and if it burns different then it has been treated.
    If the pallet is from overseas then I would assume, right or wrong that it has been treated to get though customs.
    If the pallet is not painted or stamped then there is a chance it is made of hardwood that will burn hot and very quickly.

  • +1

    Some are most definitely treated - I've burned some chep style pallets and they burn slow - I don't try with them anymore. Others might be treated but it's hard to tell.

    I regularly use pallets for fires. I dont cook with them though, just in case. Never seem to smell anything bad or feel bad around them, so I suspect (hope) mostly untreated. At the factory I cut them up to useful size and stuff them in cardboard boxes when I go car camping, or for at home in the backyard. I burn the pallet wood, then the boxes - no leftover mess - maybe some in the atmosphere, but not a trace on the ground.

    They burn faster and hotter than store-bought firewood, especially in the cold. Sometimes at camp I've had mates bring their bags of firewood from bunnings / servo and in the cold it burns miserably - chuck on some pallet wood and we're all warm and happy again. A combo of both seems to work well to keep the fire long burning but also bright and warm.

    • Are there chep pallets that aren’t covered in paint? All the ones I’ve seen are covered in paint.

      • Yes, all painted blue IME, but only the edges.

      • If you prefer red paint you can get loscam pallets instead.

        • +1

          the loscam pallets pair well with steak

  • I only burn pallets with the HT mark. Or no mark.

  • If it’s HT (heat treated) go for it. But most of it’s pine and burns too quickly.

  • +2

    More importantly - why burn them? Please return to the transport company so they can be re-used.
    There is a global shortage and it takes resources to make them - see: https://www.afr.com/companies/transport/brambles-warns-of-ex...

    It's like asking if you can burn toilet paper during the height of 'rona mayhem!

    • +2

      More importantly - why burn them?

      Heating.

      • +2

        Ignoring my point which is they are valuable to society for something other than a temporary amount of heat. Put on a jumper.

        The construction companies' waste collector would usually be sorting the pallets for re-use. Companies that specialise in construction waste collection sort out all sorts of metals / recyclables etc.

        Please consider world events - here's some video versions if you don't want to read an AFR article and are living under a rock - it's affecting supply chains and therefore everyone:

        https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/retail/covid-bushf...
        https://ms-my.facebook.com/7NEWSMelbourne/videos/global-pall...
        https://www.skynews.com.au/business/markets/wooden-pallet-sh...

        Here is an example of where you can help out by returning them - most if in good knick are repaired and re-used:
        https://www.scottgroupltd.com/pallets/pallet-recovery/

        • +1

          Wood pallets are littered on the side of the road in industrial zones with FREE, TAKE AS MANY AS YOU WANT signs.

          Energy costs across the world are raising fast.

          It would be financially justifiable to use free wood pallets for heating.

          • -1

            @rektrading: Doesn't change the fact those people are idiots for doing that. They may even be breaking the rules of the supplier that provided them.
            For example above, people are talking about CHEP pallets - these still are property of CHEP! https://www.chep.com/us/en/pallet-collection
            I work for a large construction company (OP talked about construction) and our environmental accreditation requires us to have effective resource recovery.
            Unfortunately the small guys don't tend to follow.

            Where they are out for waste collection, they are sorted at the waste collection depot.
            Very unlikely to end up in landfill once the companies get them back to the depot for sorting if they are in good condition.

            Broken ones, wierd bespoke shapes - go nuts and burn them.
            However someone should take standard size / shape pallets in okay condition to a recovery centre. Regardless of where they are free and sitting.

            • +3

              @MrFrugalSpend:

              Doesn't change the fact those people are idiots.

              Calling people who can't afford to pay for gas or electrical heating shows a lack of empathy.

              Enjoy the rest of your day.

              • @rektrading: Actually I called the people who are putting the pallets out idiots (Not the people burning them). . They haven't got proper environmental processes for their businesses.

                Burning a limited resource in a global shortage shows a lack of empathy too BTW

                • +1

                  @MrFrugalSpend: Many pallets are designated single use because it’s cheaper/easier to build a new one rather than go back and collect them and have to repair before reshipping.

                  • +1

                    @Euphemistic: Some. However they still use the pieces to create refurbished pallets, and the world is changing (and needs to change its ways) - the news I am posting about is recent. It's a new problem for circa 6-9 months or so. A decent chep pallet / standard pallets can be re-used over and over.

                    Yes and people put them out on the street because its not worth their while to return. Perhaps they are hoping someone else who needs a pallet takes them.. but perhaps they end up burned. We live in a disposable world of mass consumption. The world doesn't value its embodied energy in manufactured things enough yet. It'll change as resources continue to tighten and population continues to grow.

                    • @MrFrugalSpend: Where I worked a few years ago they would send them to the tip. Too risky to give them away apparently and most suppliers wouldn’t take them back.

                      Of course some were collected for reuse, typically treated hardwood not nasty soft pine.

                    • @MrFrugalSpend: If I stop using pallet wood to start my fire, how will my cats stay warm while I’m at work?

                  • @Euphemistic: Not the hardwood one tho. I wouldn't consider burning MDF even if I was living rough.

                    I wonder if the OP has considered offering to prune people's fruit trees - Both prunus spp. and citrus will burn even freshly cut, and are excellent after a years storage. Any branch thicker than ~ 3 cm is worthwhile, and if you're doing a winter prune, you can replace that supply in 2 years.During snow covered nights on Mt Cargill [NZ], I was warm all round after cutting wood, those near the coal range were warm at their front….

  • Wood pallets that are green shouldn't be burned inside the home. Anything else is good to go.

    Enjoy.

    • +1

      The green colour indicates treatment with copper chromium arsenate. When burned, there will be a green tinge in the flames due to the copper content.
      CSRO says "CCA treatment is effective - for example, extending the life of a pine post from a few years to 40 years or more… CCA-treated timber must not be burned in barbeques, fireplaces or wood-burning stoves or in any confined space, as toxic fumes and residues will be produced."
      The ash is also toxic due to the arsenic content.

  • Unless you know for certain that they are not treated with something just don't burn them.
    Same goes for pine posts their all treated.

    If you want to make something sure but usually there pretty rough and require a lot of extra effort sanding etc .

    • Not all is rough, I am given a lot of good structural finished wood from container pallets, and many people use the natural unfinished stuff as a highlight, anyone serious and doing a lot of production who want a finished look have thicknesers and other machines that do that work quickly
      .

      • I am given a lot of good structural finished wood from container pallets

        Untreated pine pallets are fumigated by customs. Use a dust mask when sanding.

  • OP - you live on the Gold Coast. Do you really need heating? Spare a thought for the environment.

    • +2

      I live off-grid in Far North Queensland, don't have any heating, the last few nights have been 8 degrees, have been sleeping in a thermal onesey sleeping bag as the hot weather tends to cause our metabolism to thicken our blood and we don't cope with cold well, but I agree, no one needs to burn stuff, once owned a wood heater, but am far more environmentally conscious now, apparently the experts say (heard on ABC radio recently) that wood burning causes more deaths and car pollution

    • Its a stove for cooking

  • Was lucky enough to work for a company that dealt with treated woods, so knew what to look for when obtaining wood for our heater, working in one of Sydney's biggest industrial areas and visiting many large companies around Sydney I was able to obtain large amounts of hardwood 2x4 and thicker. the companies were looking for people to remove it, Blackwoods at Smithfield had heaps, as well as suitable cut down trees logs, never purchased wood once and the softer wood is excellent for helping start and can be added in small amounts during a burn, used my Triton work bench in cross cut mode, lined up a as much as could be placed against the guard and made a pass, when finished I would push the lined up wood along which pushed the cut to size bits that then fell into a wheel barrow, then make another pass till finished and start again … the kids enjoyed taking the wheel barrow to the wood shed and stacking it up.

  • -1

    Don’t burn anything. Be a good world citizen.

  • Some people here are confusing the repeat use pallets such as chep for groceries etc and the ones made from cheap pine for one time use such as delivery of things like machine parts that are not expected to get reused the price is factored in to the cost of the item they don't expect to get them back. I've worked in both grocery stores and diesel mechanics 2 different systems.

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