Setting aside the contamination question, there's another safety issue to consider, if you're thinking about crafting with reclaimed wood pallets: fumigated or pressure treated wood.
It sounds innocuous enough, right? But the "pressure" part only gets at part of the treatment process. Manufacturers use pressure to force chemicals like formaldehyde into the wood. The idea is to prevent decay and pest infestation, but you definitely don't want those treated pallets inside your house or touching food. Fumigated wood is treated with pesticides, which also isn't great from a health standpoint.
Pallet crafters, don't despair! There are some ways to tell if your wood is treated or fumigated.
How to Tell If Your Pallets are Treated Wood
Most wood pallets will have an IPPC logo, since they oversee internationally-shipped pallets. Pallets that ship overseas are the ones usually treated or fumigated to prevent the spread of invasive pests. Here are the marks to look out for (they should be near the IPPC logo):
- HT - This means the pallet was heat treated, possibly with harmful chemicals.
- MB - This indicates that the pallet was fumigated with methyl bromide, a toxic pesticide. Pallet makers are phasing out methyl bromide, but you may still see this mark on some older pallets.
You can also educate yourself to spot pressure treated wood. Head to your local home improvement store and poke around the lumber section. Pressure treated wood looks different from untreated wood, and once you see the difference in color, it should be pretty easy to spot.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by splorp