What about burning cut pallets?

Pallets, lumber, and other cut and dried scrap wood are indeed good to burn (as long as you are completely sure they were not treated with any chemicals such as arsenic or methyl bromide, which are very hazardous when burned). But are they ok to transport?

Dear Don’t Move Firewood;

I have a question about moving wood. I will be camping in NC this weekend and I was wondering if wood that has been kiln dried and milled is ok to transport? I have a source for old shipping pallets and would like to use those as firewood. Could there be any problems with using scrap lumber?



Dear Tony;

Great question. Old shipping pallets pose a few risks despite being dried and milled. For one thing, pests like the Spongy moth (which is found in NC and surrounding states) will lay their egg cases on nearly anything that is outside- so moving cut pallets that were stored outside for a few years very much risks moving that pest into your preferred camping area. Further, old pallets in particular stand a decent chance of having been fumigated in the past with the chemical Methyl Bromide. This is not a chemical you want to breathe- it is a known carcinogen- especially when you are trying to enjoy the fresh air of the great outdoors. Last but not least, sometimes campgrounds do not permit wood from the outside, especially scrap wood like this. Sometimes that’s because of pest threats, and other times that for the reason of nails, brackets and staples injuring workers as they periodically clean fire pits.

My advice is therefore that scrap wood and cut pallets can be burned at home if you are 100% sure they are not treated with wood preservatives or Methyl Bromide, but it still isn’t wise to bring it camping.

Oh, and last but not least, laws vary hugely by state. You don’t say where you are from, so I can’t comment on if bringing wood into North Carolina from your starting location is illegal or not. But it might be. And that’s not a good scenario!

Thanks for reading, and asking!