One of the most perennial questions we get here at Don't Move Firewood is best described as the infinite variations of...can I burn pallets? move pallets? use pallet wood in my stove?
Dear Don't Move Firewood,
Is pallet wood okay to move?
Thank you, Karen
Here's the quick answer; not a good thing to do. Not often illegal, truly, but still something that we suggest not doing.
- Pallets are often stored outside for at least a few months, if not far longer. That means nearly anything can crawl onto them and lay eggs (for instance, gypsy moth), or contaminated soil can stick or splash onto them (for instance, sudden oak death).
- Pallets from other countries are now required to be heat treated, but some falsification of certificates and imperfectly applied treatment still occur. That means even new pallets could still contain pests within their wood.
- Campgrounds will sometimes confiscate cut pallets and construction waste as part of their own facilities safety needs. So even if you bring it, you might not get to use it.
- Older pallets are sometimes impregnated with toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Particularly methyl bromide. You don't want to burn that and then inhale it, or contaminate your wood stove. And if you don't know how old your pallet is, you don't know if those chemicals are in there.
So the final answer is that if you know your pallet is recently manufactured, it probably is fine to burn it on site or within a few miles of where you got it. But it is not a good idea to move pallets long distances for the purposes of burning them for firewood, nor is it a good idea to burn older pallets at all, given that they could release dangerous chemicals upon burning.