We love DIY projects using pallets. You might say that we're a little bit obsessed, if we're being completely honest. That's why I was really struck when reader Cat wrote in asking if reclaimed pallets were safe for building a raised bed garden.
We've shared pallet projects for all sorts of things from building a chair to building a compost bin, and if pallet wood isn't safe, that's definitely something worth looking into. Cat pointed me to an article that questions the safety of bringing pallet wood indoors. It also makes me wonder if it's safe to use in conjunction with growing food. According to Nick at KraftMaid Cabinetry:
Wood shipping pallets often start out in a fairly sanitary state. Unfortunately, most find some part of their life out of doors exposed to water, all manner of vermin and insects, not to mention bird droppings and other nastiness.
Nick recommends using shipping pallets to only build outdoor structures, because wood pallets have tested positive for e. coli and even a chemical contaminant responsible for a Tylenol recall. I don't know about you guys, but I don't want to chance either of those in my house or contaminating my compost bin or food garden.
Should you quit building with wood pallets? That's really up to you. If you do want to build with pallet wood, I recommend taking the following precautions to make your reclaimed pallet projects safer:
- Keep it outside.
- Keep it away from food gardens.
- Don't use pallets to build surfaces that will come into contact with food, like tables.
- Look for reclaimed plastic pallets, which are much easier to clean and sanitize. They're not as versatile as wood, but you can scrub them down and disinfect them before using much more easily.
What do you guys think about pallet safety? These cases of contamination are only a small percentage of the pallet wood out there, but I'm a safety first kind of gal. What about you?
[Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by House of Sims]