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How To Know If A Pallet Is Safe To Use

You’re thinking of a new pallet project but not really sure how to know if a pallet is safe or not. Keep reading and get all the information you need.

RELATED: 19 Cool Pallet Projects | Pallet Furniture and More

In this article:

  1. Pallet Home Projects
  2. How to Know If a Pallet Is Safe to Use
  3. The Things You Will Find Stamped on a Pallet and What They Mean
  4. What If There Is No Stamp or Marking on the Pallet?
  5. Are Pallets with Color Safe to Use?

How to Know If a Pallet Is Safe for a Project

Pallet Home Projects


Recently, a reader drew our attention to the possible dangers using of shipping pallets, especially in DIY projects like our smoker, where the pallets will be used near food. Some, but not all, pallets have toxic chemicals on them or have exposure to a chemical treatment that makes them inappropriate for use in home projects.

We spent a lot of time finding the best, safe pallets for our use, and we wanted to share with you some tips that will help you find good, usable pallets.

Even a brand new wood pallet can have chemical treatment. We did some research to figure out how we can assure that you can use wood pallets safely.

Pallets are great for building things and DIY crafts, but we want everyone to be able to stay safe doing so.

Any pallet you find may have been:

There’s no way for us to be able to tell how much danger there is in using pallets, but we can tell you what we do know.

We also put together an article on how to find the best pallets, with free ones being our favorite.

How to Know If a Pallet Is Safe to Use

Any shipping pallet you find at the on the side of the road or at a local source needs to be inspected for a few things.

Step 1: Determine That the Pallet Is Relatively Clean

There should be no signs of spills or leakage of items. If there are any spills on it, either oil, food or unknown substances, you should pass on this pallet.

It is much safer to just stick with clean ones and not try to identify what might be on your pallet.

Step 2: Look at the Stamp and Markings on the Pallet


Almost all pallets will have a stamp, found somewhere on one of the sides. There are two main things to look for on the pallet stamp:

    • Heat Treatment [HT] The wood has to heated for at least 30 minutes to a minimum core temperature of at least 132.8 °F /56° C. A Pallet treated this way will be stamped with [HT], and it should appear near the stamp of the IPPC logo
    • Chemical Fumigation [MB] The wood was fumigated with a chemical called methyl bromide. A pallet treated with this should be stamped with the letters [MB] and it should appear near the IPPC logo. Although the use of methyl bromide was banned in March 2010 as an acceptable treatment under IPPC, you may still find a pallet that was treated using this method.

RELATED: Where To Find Free Pallets For Reclaimed Wood Projects

The Things You Will Find Stamped on a Pallet and What They Mean

Wood packaging materials must be debarked prior to being heat treated or fumigated to meet regulations. These regulations prevent the re-infestation of insects while lumber is waiting for manufacture.

These items are likely visible on a pallet stamp:

Note: All stamps on pallets may not be clear.

During our first inspection, the logos and stamps are not very clear and do not exactly follow some of the guides online.

What If There Is No Stamp or Marking on the Pallet?

It means this pallet is likely for domestic transport, and do not require an IPPC stamp since the pallet is not for international transport.

These pallets are likely safe. However, it is better to be careful.

We recommend that you use pallets with stamps so you can trace and know the pallet treatment.

Are Pallets with Color Safe to Use?


Why are some pallets blue? We do not recommend that you use these types of pallets, as they are often from the pool industry and can contain chemicals.

Remember, you can always buy new pallets:

If you are apprehensive about using pallets, there are chemical-free pallets from a shipping supplier called Uline. This company specializes in shipping supplies and has an extensive catalog online.

Uline sells pallets made from new wood (hardwoods, such as elm, oak, cottonwood or maple) and also recycled wood (a combination of elm, oak, cottonwood or maple).

If you need to make sure you can prevent insects (especially if you are using your pallets outdoors) you can buy pallets from them that are heat treatment (HT) This will mean the wood has treatment to a certain temperature without the use of chemicals, and this treatment will eliminate the risk of insect infestation.

Get to know more about safe to use pallets with this video by Vashon Borich:

You will be using any pallet you use at your own risk. Use your own judgment to determine what type pallet works for your project.

There may be old pallets at home you would like to use or a friend offered some unused ones from his garage. It’s nice if you don’t have to spend extra money buying new pallets but if you want them to be totally safe for your new project, consider the information given above.

What pallet projects do you have in mind? Are these tips helpful for your project? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 25, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.