Continuing the theme of good design thoughts gone horribly wrong, we are now in to the realm of salvaging actual waste for furniture.
I have always advocated healthy and responsible reuse of household items and certain building materials. I'll be the first to admit that a reclaimed wood floor is nothing short of breathtaking.
The trend of bringing shipping pallets in to the home is breathtaking for all the wrong reasons.
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.
Let's start here.
Remember when E. coli was running rampant through the romaine lettuce community last year? The National Consumers League(NCL) did some testing on shipping pallets just like the ones formed in to a table above. They found that 10% of the pallets tested contained E. coli. Almost 3% contained Listeria, one of the more virulent of food borne pathogens that has a 20-30% mortality rate.
With an opportunity to gather any moisture, these very pallets could also be a breeding ground for salmonella.
Sorry, but even at seemingly small chances, it's not something I want to eat on. The website this table is listed on also includes plans to build your own. I guess you'd have to build your own because I don't know a single professional work worker that would dream of suggesting this for any one's dining space. I do like the wall decal though... very nifty.
On to another recall... In 2009, Tylenol recalled all EZ-open 100-count Arthritis Pain Medication after it was discovered that a chemical called 2,4,6-tribomophenol(a fungicide) caused a bizarre, unpleasant odor in its medication. Who did Tylenol blame? Pallets.
The very same type of chemical is also blamed for $10 billion in damages from what wine producers call "cork taint".
Again, not something I want in my house.
Even worse than solid wood shipping pallets are those that contain engineered wood or cardboard. Most low-grade engineered wood products contain formaldehyde. See the blocks between the planks and rear frame on the pallet headboard above? That's exactly what I'm talking about.
In addition to potentially harmful chemicals used to make or treat the pallets, any potentially noxious chemicals that are shipped ON the pallets could result in out-gassing anytime afterward.
Cardboard and some other engineered wood products are also havens for little creepy-crawlies. I don't like roaches at all- At Cupboards, we don't even keep shipping pallets in the warehouse.
And the single most mortifying place for shipping pallets has to be a child's bedroom. This lady built a toddler bed from pallets and later a bigger child's bed out of similar said shipping pallets. She undoubtedly received some harsh criticism as she has a reminder to "be nice" in her comments section.
Well, nice or not, it's not a smart move to make a kid's bed out of trash.
Some of the "claims of safety" about pallets are easily refutable. Like:
"The pallets I use were dry-kilned." Well, they very well may have been. In fact, most shipping crates and pallets in the US and Canada are dried before they are used. Why? Mold. Mold grows where ever there is moisture and heat available. If your dry-kilned pallets are left outside even once in a humid climate or rain they're as wet as they need to be to grow a whole heap of mold.
"I sanded and washed the pallets so they're safe." Any number of wood-boring insects could still be in your pallets... even the common American and German cockroaches. Chemicals and many pathogens could also still be present.
"I know where the pallets came from." Most companies reuse pallets, too. Even though they are made from one of the lowest grades of solid wood possible, they aren't cheap. It's not uncommon for pallets to make more than one trip(and VERY common for them to spend some time either outside or crawling with vermin in the meantime).
So there's my little rant. If you want something that looks like a pallet, I'm all for suggesting you build yourself a little piece of wood furniture with your local woodworker/carpenter and enjoy having a piece that is uniquely yours.
Reusing a potentially dangerous and cheap wood product just to say that you did it isn't commendable. Risky, but certainly not something to brag about.
Feel free to disagree! I do think there is a place for wood shipping pallets in a reuse environment. They make great(though not permanent) compost pile frames and insect hotels for gardens. There's a way to use a reclaimed shipping pallet... just leave them outside!
As someone who works in manufacturing I can assure you that when a pallet gets to the point that it's thrown away because it's too dirty/broken/disgusting for a warehouse to use, it is DEFINITELY not ok to use in your home.ReplyDelete
Yeah this is rediculous! Bunch of germaphobe snobs. Oh my trash and oh my, dirt. Dont you know the human body has the same chemical make up (or for you genuses) our bodies are made of and require the exact same elements of earth. The only place to find the real vitamins, minerals, water, all the elements needed for us to function on a daily basis. Youre welcome for lesson #1, lesson number 2 is, they can be sprayed down and soaked with hydrogen peroxide. Peroxide gets down in all those pourous places you spoke of. Let it fizzle for about ten minutes, continuing spraying peroxide in obvious places and rinse with a power washer. Ive got some pretty trash. You city folk scared of dirt and germs is hillarious! Ya might go breaking a nail, oh my!Delete
If she went to all the trouble of making the pallets "safe," why not just buy some lovely wood at The Big Orange Box and make something to be proud of?ReplyDelete
Also, I can't get behind hobo DIY.
Madame- Thanks... could not agree more!ReplyDelete
Raina- I wonder the same thing- beyond that, it could've been even MORE unique.
Absolutely insane!! Never would I have thought that this was going on - you would be better off sleeping on a pile of dirt.ReplyDelete
Great post Nick. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's appalled by this sort of thing.ReplyDelete
Bob- Yep... piles of dirt really aren't that bad. ;-)ReplyDelete
Paul- Thanks for the support. Just trying to do my best to remind people that real designers/home professionals are available to help them construct most anything... not necessary to pilfer the refuse bins to find furniture(especially for kids).
Thanks for the info Nick, it was informative and I will not use a pallet to make indoor furniture however you undid what at first appeared to be real concern when you started making comments like "real designers/home professionals are available to help them" You sound like you have a DIY chip on your shoulder. We needed the knowledge without the nasty....thank you for the knowledge!Delete
Nobody else was bothered by the use of Astroturf in the first picture?ReplyDelete
Oh yeah ... Palates are bad ... m-kay?
Seriously great post ... just surprised it needs to be said is all.
So I shouldn't pay $1,000-plus for a pallet on wheels from Restoration Hardware? That's some 100-year-old germs right there.ReplyDelete
Arne- I honestly didn't notice the turf... guess I was too distracted by the pallets, mmkay?ReplyDelete
Kim- I understand the thought, but hopefully Restoration Hardware puts those carts through a processing to prevent any contamination... if they just picked them up from behind some old furniture manufacturing facility, we may have a problem.
Yikes, yikes and yikes. Mostly at the germ factor, which I had no idea about.ReplyDelete
It's actually not a bad multi-level/storage design concept if done a little neater. And with less bacteria.
I'm with you, Becky- I don't HATE the way it looks, just the potential for lots of awfulness in one's home.ReplyDelete
Wouldn't have really thought about the germ factor! I used some to build a compost bin in my yard- but that's as close as they get to the house. Maybe they should stamp a warning on them- exterior use only!ReplyDelete
Paul- I think they are great for compost bins, even though we've found that they tend to become weak faster than other materials just because they are typically made from lower grade woods.ReplyDelete
I did in fact use palate wood for a compost bin and had to rebuild it within the year. Now that I've read Nick's informative article, I'd be concerned about chemicals leaching into into my lovely mulch.ReplyDelete
Arne- It's certainly something to think about... scary!ReplyDelete
All these pictures are leaving out the photos of the greasy and grimy handlers of the pallets.ReplyDelete
Not an attack on the people who are handling this stuff. It's just a dirty job so the people who wrestle this stuff tend to be dirty during the handling.
Too many people are thinking these pallets have just sat at the back of a wal-mart store with Dove hand soap stacked on them.
Instead of denigrating the hygiene of a hard-working individual, why not be more concerned for their safety? If pallets are as dangerous as this post and other research suggests, should we all be using our righteous indignation to advocate for safer conditions for our food and our citizens, rather than making the issue about from whom consumers chose to source their materials. Also, a point that I have not seen discussed, is that many people seek out these DIY options because they don't mind putting their sweat behind a project to have something that they could otherwise never dream of affording (even the materials alone). It is far too easy to criticize others from a financially stable vantage point. I have no argument with your factual assertions about pallet safety, but in general the post and comments lack empathy. If you want to change people's minds and if you care about their safety, be kind. Don't make them feel like idiots or you will lose your a audience!Delete
It's raining today in Kansas City.
Look who just passed me!
Couldn't be better said, James... and think how many toddler beds that truck was carrying?!ReplyDelete
I work in the consumer goods industry and we import furniture from all over the globe. Because so many invasive insects have been brought into the country in both wooden furniture and the wood shipping palettes, most shipping containers are blasted with a toxic cloud of Methol Bromide, along with a number of other highly toxic and carcinogetic chemicals. So, hopefully those Asian Long Horn Beatles will not Infest your house, however the wood palette which are not protected by packaging during the gassing are definitely toxic.ReplyDelete
Thank you very much for Your wonderful post, which I found through Curbly! I've pinned a link on my up-cycle mood board on Pinterest
You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!ReplyDelete
interesting arguments... however, "wood" from the big orange box among other lumbers, is also pre-treated with chemicals. Also molds in certain areas.... Everything we buy is potentially tainted. This includes the wooden furniture we buy from all over the planet... Safest bet is to grow, cut, cure and make your own! I happen to love the outdoor furniture, and swings... We have used the pallets for years in our plant nurseries in Hawaii. Life is definitely a crap shoot!!ReplyDelete
What if you not only clean/sand the pallets... but also apply a sealant all over it? Would that make it better for in-home use?ReplyDelete
Cleaning and sanding helps, but my personal and professional suggestion would be to buy better grade lumber for your projects.Delete
Its funny reading this article...I could swear you talking about a grocery cart!ReplyDelete
I do believe jerms are everywhere, and everyone at any given time could be exposed to all of the above listed. Common sense is really key peeps. I'd love to see what your research shows regarding the wood I could buy at any lumber yard/home improvement store! really. you might want to get on that....
Germs are everywhere, but dragging garbage in to your home is really what the argument is here.Delete
Thanks for the comment and keep reading!
you are all worring wierdos. get over it. and look who is posting a man that can lose biz if/when people do it themselvesReplyDelete
I appreciate your opinion, but anonymous grammatical train wrecks don't carry a whole lot of weight in my world.Delete
Thanks for reading!
Nick, do you know anything about tobacco slats? Where I live they're reclaimed into furniture much like the pallets. They make very beautiful pieces certainly nicer than pallets. I'm concerned because I have a hutch made from them and was even considering using them for other projects. Also what are your thoughts on barn board? I think many are going for the aged wood look, any advice on how to make wood look aged?ReplyDelete
I'm not familiar with tobacco slats. The best way to get good answers is to check with your local cooperative extension office(if you don't have that or similar in your neck of the woods, check with your local government agriculture office) or with professor at a university nearby.Delete
Hope that helps!
An aged look in wood is incredibly easy to achieve!Delete
Spray the surface with hydrogen peroxide and leave them in the sun for a couple hours. The wood will grey out very well but retain it's structural integrity.
EWWW! Dirt! You people obviously do not grow your own food in a garden or dig around in the dirt much. The only way to become immune to dirt is to get in and dig in the dirt and get dirty! People have been using old wood for thousands of years -- the older, the better. The more air the wood is exposed to, the more the germs die. People become immune because they build up a resistance -- you don't build up a resistance by avoiding it all together. Clean up the wood. Pallets are good products and recycling them is also good. Get over the "clean" stuff -- I'm glad I do not live where people are so clean they can't stand the thought of food growing in the dirt!ReplyDelete
I typically don't respond to comments that start with "you people" but obviously you didn't read the post. It's not about dirt.Delete
The issue at hand is with off-gassing and chemicals. I love responsible recycling more than anything and your comments miss the mark completely. Dirt can typically be washed off of just about anything... These types of chemicals, bacteria and vermin often cannot.
We sell antiques in a store that is completely covered inside with old barn wood -- all three floors. We built the shelves in the store out of barn wood and old pallet wood. We NEVER would use "good new" lumber for our projects -- that would destroy the ambiance of the store. People from all over the world come to our store to buy old everything. To us old is better than new. Old is tried and true and proven. We have seen many new projects discarded because they did not hold up -- even newly built "distressed" projects. The quality is not even close to what used to be built. Thank you but no thanks. I'll stick with old, antiques, and my beautiful used pallets, all of which have character because of where they have been and what they have been used for. IJReplyDelete
Re-read the post... The chemicals and things transported on pallets are what make them dangerous, not that it's old wood.Delete
I have lots of antiques myself and specify reclaimed flooring regularly. There are safe, responsible products to use and some that aren't so much.
Irene, could you please tell me where your store is so that I might avoid accidentally shopping there?Delete
While I do appreciate old-world construction methods and find that tools that were made for craftsmen (instead of stockholders) are of consistently higher quality, I can not abide the absolute ignorance you have displayed in your commentary.
Nick is talking about using recycled garbage as lumber. Your argument is that, because the pallet or barn wood is old, it's inherently better?
The people who crafted that barn did not go looking for crap wood to start their project. The barn stood the test of time because of good materials and, more importantly, proven construction methods that I suspect you did not employ when you used that old, distressed and antique-looking wood to build your shelves out of the carcass of a dilapidated (and probably filthy) barn.
Re-read the article and separate your business interests from the argument while you actually think about it this time.
Here is another note from Psychology Today about dirt -- dirt is good!ReplyDelete
something else to think about... internationally shipped pallets are often soaked or fumigated with toxic chemicals to discourage insects.ReplyDelete
these chemicals are slowly released; quickly released if the wood is tooled or cut.
I don't care about dirt, I can clean and remove it with the plane but I would like to know how long it takes for methyl bromide to dissolve?ReplyDelete
Does anyone here have any clue as to how many chemicals and carcinogens are in the various products and materials littered around your home? Somehow those seem to be of a much greater concern than what a pallet may have. lolReplyDelete
I assume you're talking about MDF and the like.Delete
While these products have, in the past, been shown to off-gas quite a lot of VOC's and formaldehyde, most of the current stuff has been certified to be much safer. I still wouldn't buy furniture that employs these materials, not because of the chemicals, but because MDF sucks.
Pallets, on the other hand, are treated no better than a slaughterhouse floor and don't require certifications of any sort. They are frequently tainted with all manner of toxic chemicals and carry disease.
You CAN make them safe to use. It's not worth it. Build something NICE instead.
I had to share my opinion whether right or wrong. I use pallets for all sorts of products for my home and will probably continue to do so but will definitely take this article into consideration. I believe that we come into contact with so many chemicals on a daily basis, whether it is the food we eat or the stuff they use to spray and kill mosquitoes. I do attempt to get the best least used pallets when I do and do make every attempt at cleaning them. Even though I see your point I do not completely agree with you. And that is ok. I like to think by posting your article you could save some people that do not take it as seriously as I do to make sure they do clean them and be smart about what they make using pallets. Thank you. Signed, A friendly reader.ReplyDelete
My dad gets brand new pallets from his job made from pine and oak. We bleach and scrub the pallets before we use them for anything. Doesn't bleach kill germs and bacteria? So wouldn't that make the wood safe to use? Also the wood people buy from Lowes and home depot are treated with chemicals.we also don't know were or how long this wood sat outside. Can't that wood bring mold, germs, bacteria, and unwanted vermin into your home? For me I that if you are building something regardless were the wood came from your taking a chance, but if you properly and carefully clean and inspect the wood I think that you should be fine.ReplyDelete
Awesome job on making the lady who built her daughters pallet beds look like an irresponsible parent. Very kind of you. Firstly, E. coli without a food source ceases to last very long in the open environment. So unless you are licking them soon after you found them, I think we're quite safe. Listeria on the other hand can linger for a long time, but I challenge you to test regular wood, your local dodgy deli, public bathrooms and see where else listeria hangs out. Secondly, infestations? Anyone who has ANY knowledge about woodworking can spot these issues a mile off, and anyone who can't probably shouldn't try DIY. As for mold, the same came be said regarding lumber that is sourced at an outdoor yard. I agree with not using chemically treated pallets, but if someone has responsibly sourced pallets and is aware that they must be heat treated, who are you to say otherwise? Posts like yours are more dangerous than the pallets you speak of because they spread unnecessary fear, embarrass those who disagree (e.g. the 'lady' you mentioned) and contribute to an even more wasteful world than the one we already live in.ReplyDelete
Here is something for you to get off your high-horse and read. Morons.ReplyDelete
Ha! High horse?Delete
I had read that post actually and it shares much of the same information that I do.
Check it out: http://www.cupboardsonline.com/2013/01/when-trends-attack-pallet-edition-part-2.html
How about just purchasing a brand new pallet from a shipping supplier? Instead of rescuing one from from the trash heap? I've seen brand new manufactured kiln dried wood pallets at affordable prices. Any type of wood must be processed first before use in anything. What are your thoughts on that?ReplyDelete
I'm all good with new pallets, even though I must say that it's not my taste. Always better safe than sorry!Delete
so you're worried about wood that's been kept outside and/or has been covered in various chemicals. where exactly are you getting wood from that's not been growing as a tree - outside - for at least 15 years, with all sorts of lovely insects living in it, birds pooing on it, animals relieving themselves on it... before its chopped down, sprayed with all sorts of chemicals to kill the insects and prevent mould while its sat in yard/transported before you buy you're nice "clean" lumber?ReplyDelete
if there was a serious health risk from pallets leaching gasses do you think people would be allowed to work long shifts in warehouses full of the things (especially living in the developed world, where health and safety is massively over the top anyway)?
just wash the sodding pallet, don't try to eat it, you'll be fine.
All of us make decisions on what we bring in our homes... I just choose to try not to add to the risk we run bringing anything in. Better safer than sorry.Delete
I understand your point of view; however, there are a few things I would like to point out. First and foremost I would like to say that almost every thing has been exposed to damp conditions at some point. Secondly, viruses and germs such as e coli die once there host is gone, a thou rough cleaning and sanding with kill almost anything left. Lastly, chemicals and insects are in literally everything, including food and water. What I'm getting at here is that nothing is completely "safe" of sterile, everything comes with a little risk.ReplyDelete
P.s. If you would like to know more about what's in your food or just don't believe me then research the food defect action levels.
It's not about a "little" risk. I know that we are exposed to tons of not-so-nice things every day, including much of our food. However, that's not what this is about... This is about REDUCING negative outcomes by avoiding things that are inherently higher risk. The question becomes, is it worth it?Delete
If someone has there heart set on pallet furniture then yes I do believe it is worth the risk. If treated properly pallets are no more dangerous than an antique rocking chair from a questionable dealer or a $1000 table made from old New York water towers.ReplyDelete
Professional restored woods are significantly less dangerous than a DIY pallet coffee table that one stole(after all, that's what it is if you take it from behind a business without asking).Delete
Pallets are exceptionally inexpensive compared to new furniture... If you want to DIY, just buy some and skip the risk.
That is exactly the point I was trying to make if someone wear to carefully restore and clean the pallet at a professional quality what would make it any worse than the above mentioned table?Delete
Actually, that's the point that I've been trying to make. I have NEVER had someone approach our shop or talked with any other professional about working with pallet wood. The reason pallet furniture has been a craze is because it's perceived as free and almost only used in DIY situations.Delete
I wish people would take the care in restoring pallets if they're going to use them as furniture. Fact is, they don't and won't.
Then perhaps you should make it known that you would be willing to do such a thing.Delete
Unfortunately, our shop would be highly unlikely to take on a project that revolved primarily around used pallets.Delete
Then what exactly was the point of either of these posts. If your worried about what people are bringing into there home why not offer to help restore the wood or at least offer professional tips on choosing, handling, and working with such things. You give us long lists of potential hazards and barley mention the likely hood of your of such hazards, because let's be serious you are no more likely to get ecoli from a pallet than your food and your house probably has mold in it than a pallet is even capable of containing. What you've done is a form of fear mongering, unintentional as it may be it is still fear mongering.Delete
The point of these posts is that making a knock-off version of a restored, reclaimed wood piece of furniture out of pallets is not just being cheap, but potentially dangerous.Delete
I'm all for upcycling and recycling, but the reason that I don't offer tips or tricks on working with pallets is because I don't think they belong in my customers homes. These posts, and the advice from the chemists, horticulturalists, university faculty, etc. all point to the fact that using used pallets in your home is irresponsible. I am a professional in the kitchen and bath industry- that's why I sought information from people who have more insight than I would.
The argument can rage on forever. Used pallets have a higher risk of containing contaminants, it's just the facts.
I didn't post these posts to unintentionally fear monger... It's very much what I meant to do. These are things you should be scared to bring in your home.
"Used pallets have a higher risk of containing contaminants, it's just the facts". Higher risk than what? The door to the office? The office water cooler? The grocery store shopping cart? I love the shopping cart comparison because, well, it handles your food like a pallet does. So let us do a quick comparison of two studies shall we? One, a study that you (mis)quote concerning pallets and one I found with a simple google search about E. Coli on shopping cart handles.Delete
70 wooden pallets were tested. 10%, or 7, were found to have strains of E. Coli on them.
36 shopping cart handles are tested. 50%, or 18, were found to have strains of E. Coli on them.
Those are facts. You saying pallets have a higher risk of containing contaminants isn't a fact, it is conjecture, and a poorly conceived one at that.
Now take into consideration all of the things you touch after a shopping cart handle, say...your food while you shop? Your wallet or purse? Your kids? I don't see how a pallet is any worse than this.
As for your misquote, here is the actual information:
"In addition to the presence of E. coli, 2.9 percent of the wood pallets tested positive for Listeria, and half of these, when further tested, contained Listeria monocytogenes, one of the most virulent foodborne pathogens. This strain of Listeria is linked to a 20 to 30 percent rate of clinical infections resulting in death and causes approximately 2,500 illnesses and 500 deaths in the United States every year".
So 2.9% had strains of Listeria on them. Half of 2.9% contained this wicked strain of Listeria responsible for a 20-30% mortality rate. Half of 2.9% is 1.45%. 1.45% of 70 is 1.015 pallets. So a single pallet in a group of 70 had this really bad bug on it. Do you see how my presentation of the information might be a little clearer, and honest?
I regret not being able to find any concrete source quoting a specific percentage of shopping cart handles infected with the same strain of Listeria for comparison, but I am willing to bet it is much higher than 1 in 70 due to the prevalence of food borne bacteria in general.
I have one more thing to point out. As a woodworker using reclaimed wood like I do, I take into consideration not only the condition of the wood I use but also the finishes I apply. I would take a sanded unfinished pallet table over one covered in stain and lacquer any day of the week. I am also offended by the assumption that anyone working with pallets steals then and are therefore thieves. Every pallet I have ever used was either taken with permission or purchased from the owner.
Finally, references for those of you that are interested in knowing where I got my information:
Used pallets have a higher risk of containing contaminants than new pallets. Those are facts.Delete
I didn't compare them to shopping carts or water coolers because I haven't seen people making beds out of those things.
There was no misquoting on my part about statistics- I appreciate that you are passionate about using pallets, but I am as enthusiastic about people knowing that there are potential dangers.
If you were offended by the notion that people steal pallets, that's just the truth too. In all the years of having our showroom, ONE individual asked for permission to take some that we had behind our shop... I stopped calling the city to pick them up because I know people will pick them up.
Thanks for the comments!
After reading to most comments doing some research on the matter pretty much the same ones mentioned above and all your previous post (this to you nick) it seems to me your just worried about bussines going out the back door. Great come back Jeremy I was on the same track, glad some one wrote this down. Shame on you Nick your wallet is making you "rant" as you stated.Delete
Fortunately Alejandro, as a kitchen designer no one's irresponsible DIY has any effect at all on my wallet. I don't make or sell anything that would compete. Good try, though.Delete
This comment has been removed by the author.ReplyDelete
Thankyou all for the information - for and against - pallets on this thread. As a mother who has only recently discovered the pallet furniture concept, I can say that I am confused.ReplyDelete
I was considering making that very bed you referenced for my little boy! I can appreciate that many of the woodworkers who have commented don't like the look of it, but I am not after craftsmanship. I am after a project we can do together. My Dad built our bunk beds, our playhouse, our little chairs and table, even my cradle, from (purchased) lumber and recycled barnwood in his very basic, rustic way (with our 'help'), and I wanted to be able to do something similar for my kids - except I lack his carpentry skills. With pallets, if you keep the construction simple and aren't concerned with perfection, it seems you can make a kids bed or toy storage unit with very few skills. The kids can even help - how great for them! So, not everyone is building from pallets just because the wood is cheap or free. I bought my own (beautiful) bed and our dining table from a proper woodworking outfit and couldn't be more pleased with them.
The bacterial content and even the potential pest content aren't too worrisome, for reasons pointed out (and because we own bleach and a sander and can inspect the wood). I am very concerned about chemicals and the safety of using pallets indoors. Even with kiln dried pallets, you can never know the history, what they may have been gassed with because of what they were carrying. But what about lumber from the hardware store...?
Nick is there some regulating body, or even universal standard, for wood bought at the hardware store, that will allow me to be sure that these are not present in it if I build from that instead? If buying from a chain store, is there any way to know how my wood was sourced, in what conditions it travelled, with what it may have been treated? I was under the impression that wood sourced from these shops was bought as cheaply as possible from a variety of places and even countries.
Finally, I have noticed several people suggesting that painting or staining and sealing the wood will prevent chemical leakage. Is there any truth in that?
You can scrap my earlier post. Yours was the first anti-pallet blog I came across and as such, I blurted out pretty easy to answer questions. I have done my research now and understand a bit more (only a bit, but hey) about how wood gets to lumber yards and the differences between the different woods available. More importantly, I understand even more about the life of a pallet and yowzers, I would never have one in my home.
Thankyou for your post as it started my research into this. Pallets are so trendy right now that there is no end to the Youtube video supply (and even reputable magazine photo spreads). When you see a person with 20-30 videos of their sound construction and beautiful paintwork, and pallets feature in products from coffee tables to headboards to kids dressers, then you just never guess that there are potential hazards. I have watched umpteen videos online and never heard a word of caution about cleaning and preparing pallets, not to mention the chemicals they may be leaking. You might not expect that from a DIYer with a couple of home-made videos but I was watching the ones that seemed a bit more professional.
My son and I are going to get some pieces of lumber (well, cheap 1 inch thick boards) cut down for us and make his bed from them. I am sure it will look *terrible* but that's not really the point. Thanks again,
Thanks for the comments and being smart about your DIY choices... Hopefully your project turns out great!Delete
I know this is an old article, however I was looking for an article to send to a friend who is building pallet furniture for her home. I glanced through the comments and didn't really see anyone that has worked in the pallet business comment. So allow me. I managed a very large pallet plant that rebuilt old pallets and also built new ones. We had most of the large corporations business in our state. Picking up their used pallets or dropping off rebuilt ones. We picked up from a chicken farm. That pallet you picked up off the side of the road, the one that held fertilizer treated grass sod, I guarantee you it had raw chicken parts on it at some point in its life. Sure we pressure washed them with a special cleanser before rebuilding them to send to a grass farm...But they were just going to a grass farm. Why would they be heat treated? That's an extra $0.50 per pallet. What I'm trying to say is, you really don't want these things in your home. Spend the $5-$7 to have a reputable pallet yard build you a brand new one. They will do it... with brand new pine wood. Just don't get pallets off the side of the road. Just don't.ReplyDelete
Great comment- great information.Delete
Plenty of misinformation in here and the whole article was a bit alarmist. First of all, most pallets are not heat treated - the vast majority are made while the wood is "green", generally with a few days of being cut down. As far as why they are kiln dried - it is seldom that they are kiln dried just to reduce moisture content. They are kiln dried to remove/kill native pest for pallets that are being shipped overseas and those that are kiln dried require an HT stamp in order to be usable for overseas shipping.ReplyDelete
Tylenol Story - if you had done your research, you would have found out that Tylenol was never able to prove that the pallets were the cause. Secondly, the chemical that they claimed caused it isn't even used in pallet manufacturing has been banned for years.
The only all-wood pallets that will have been made with chemicals will have a stamp on them as well as some industries require it. The chances of you finding one of these pallets without a stamp are slim. Why? Because there is very little use of this chemical, and second, it is expensive to make. A pallet manufacturer will want to make sure that it is clearly stamped so that they can get the premium price for this pallet. Its the same as a car manufacturer not telling a car buyer about upgrades on a vehicle they are looking at.
Yes, taking wood pallets from an old pile of garbage may not be the most sanitary thing to do, but that just takes common sense. But that goes for any DIY project.
This article was a bit alarmist in its nature. Some of your tone was very "well, I'm not bringing that into my home" and was a bit condescending. I have a feeling we could walk through your home and see all sorts of cleaning chemicals, processed woods, synthetic materials, etc. that one could write a similarly toned article.
Thanks for the comment!Delete
This article was a bit alarmist in its nature(YES). Some of your tone was very "well, I'm not bringing that into my home" and was a bit condescending(YES). I have a feeling we could walk through your home and see all sorts of cleaning chemicals, processed woods, synthetic materials, etc. that one could write a similarly toned article(Probably could, but I'm NEVER intentionally bringing in items that are almost assuredly contaminated)
The point of counterarguments like mine is to encourage discussion. Thanks for helping.
I have no stance on the issue yet however there lies a contradiction in your argument Nick. You stated E. coli and Listeria were food borne pathogens found in pallets tested (less than 20%). You further state with the opportunity to gather any moisture, these very pallets could also be a breeding ground for salmonella and you would not eat off these surfaces.......However you recommend that they use these same pallets for composting?? If one were to use the compost for planting anything other than non edible plants fine. Unfortunately, most compost is used for edible vegetation in home gardening. Considering this information - why would I directly place edible goods into a container that would breed mold, E coli, and other pathogens? It seems as if you did not fully research the issue.ReplyDelete
Check the other post where university scientists, researchers and extension agents were consulted and read their quotes. We dug pretty deep on this subject.Delete
I just want to how inhaling dust created from pallets sawed and sanded affects your health, not to mention stained, then elmmors glued, then polyurethane, dried with a blow dryer, all in doors! This is really happening in my home! No one will listen! Totally dangerous, right?Delete
Nick. Thanks for the info. If the wood was sealed with polyurethane would it be safe to use? I am not interested in making a dinning room table, but I do like the look of pallet wood and have some projects I wanted to do. Is there a way to seal it so that nothing leaches into the environment?ReplyDelete
Nick, Thanks for the info. If the pallet wood was sealed with polyurethane, would it then be safe to use? I am not interested in using it for a dinning room table, but I do like the wood and have some project interests, if there is a way to seal it safely.ReplyDelete