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How to tell if your Wooden Pallet is Safe to Reuse

17 Aug 2014

Wooden pallets are highly durable items and can be re-used on a multitude of occasions. On average, a wooden pallet remains fit for purpose for between four and five years, assuming it has been maintained properly during that time, of course. In addition to being utilised for their original purpose of transporting all manner of goods, it has become increasingly popular in recent times to recycle, or rather ‘upcycle’, wooden pallets into various furniture pieces or creative items for the home. Whatever the intended purpose, it is important to determine whether a wooden pallet is actually safe to re-use. Here are some important tips to help decide on a pallet’s suitability for re-use.

1. Is It Stamped?

In order to adhere to strict international standards, all transportation pallets have to be initially heat-treated and subsequently stamped to confirm this procedure has taken place. The heat-treatment process is effective in removing any moisture which may be present in the wood, therefore helping to prevent the possibility of mould or rot setting in. Pallets which have been heat-treated will feature a stamp confirming the date of treatment and country of origin.

2. How to Spot Mould

Wood is a material which easily attracts and absorbs moisture. Any wooden pallet which contains moisture is therefore heavily susceptible to bacteria and mould. Check the wood for evidence of splitting. If splitting is evident and areas of the wood are flaking off easily, it is a clear sign that mould is inside and the wood is rotting. Pallets in this condition are most definitely unsafe for re-usage purposes.

3. What Has Your Pallet Been Used For?

The strength and durability of wooden pallets make them ideal for transporting all manner of different goods. Some of these products may have spilt in the midst of transportation, with any subsequent leakages being absorbed into the wood. Further treatment of the wood may not necessarily remove certain toxins and bacteria, so it is not recommended that a wooden pallet be used to create home furnishings if you are unsure as to what it has been used to transport.

4. Are There Bugs Inside the Wood?

Over an average lifespan of four to five years, a wooden pallet will have been used to transport a vast range of goods and stored in a variety of locations when not in use. This heightens the possibility of bugs being attracted to the moisture in the wood. A good dose of heat-treatment will often kill any bugs that are currently present in the wood but will not, however, prevent any future infestation. The only way to prevent that is to look after the pallet properly.

5. What If the Pallet Is Wet?

Poor storage of wooden pallets can vastly increase the chances of bug infestation and the presence of mould and rot. Pallets that have been stacked with other products or left outside for long periods are much more likely to become rotten, so it is advisable to not recycle any pallet which you suspect may have been stored in this way.

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