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Pallets can be found everywhere, and most of the time, you can get them for free. So wouldn’t it be great if we could use the wood from pallets for firewood? Well, we are going to answer that in this article. Can you burn pallet wood in an indoor fireplace, in an outdoor fireplace, or in a firepit?
In general, wood from pallets can be burned and used as firewood. But some pallets contain toxic chemicals that release as gasses when burned. Pallets that have a marking of “MB” on the side, pallets that are painted, or pallets that are visibly contaminated with chemicals cannot be used as firewood.
But, sometimes it can be hard to identify if a pallet is contaminated or if you can use it. I want you to be absolutely certain what kind of pallet you are dealing with. So you can know that you are not burning anything that is contaminated.
So let’s learn more about the qualities of pallet wood for firewood, and learn how to identify contaminated and toxic pallets.
Can you burn pallet wood?
Pallets are a great source of getting cheap firewood. Pallet wood can be burned and used in fireplaces, stoves, and firepits. Burning pallet wood will be a great addition to fueling the fire, but pallet wood should not be the only wood you burn.
Pallet wood is very dry and well seasoned when we obtain it, and it will also come in smaller and thinner pieces than normal firewood. This means that if you make a fire with exclusively wood from pallets, the fire is going to burn large, quick, and hot.
A fire made from only pallet wood will also burn out very quickly. You will have to constantly refill the fire with more wood and it is going to be hard to maintain a constant and smooth burn.
Use pallet wood to start the fire, in combination with other firewoods, or as kindling for smaller fires.
What Types Of Pallets Cannot Be Used For Firewood?
Most people are a little bit suspicious of pallets. Are pallets dirty? Are pallets toxic? Can I bring pallets inside? These are all common questions when talking about pallets.
And the fact is, some pallets are too dirty to use, some pallets are toxic, and most of the time pallets should not be stored indoors.
So exactly which types of pallets should not be used for firewood?
1. Don’t Use Pallets Marked MB As Firewood
MB is short for Methyl Bromide, this is a pesticide used in many timber products. Mainly used for pallets that are shipped globally. The use of Methyl Bromide in pallets is decreasing, but if you come across a pallet marked MB on the side I would just leave it be.
2. Don’t Use Painted Pallets As Firewood
Painted pallets should not be used for firewood at all. And should also just be left in place when you come across them. Most likely, there are toxic chemicals in the paint that will be released when burned. And it is not worth taking the risk of using painted pallets when there are so many “clean” pallets available.
3. Don’t Use Visibly Contaminated Pallets As Firewood
Pallets are used to transport anything from paint, gasoline, or even live animals. The fact is, we do not know what the pallet we find has been transporting. Make sure that the pallets you bring home to use for firewood are not visibly contaminated with any strange substances.
If the pallet seems dirty, old, or has visible spill marks from unknown substances, just leave the pallet and don’t use it for firewood.
How To Find The Markings Or Stamp On Pallet Wood?
You can easily see it if the pallet is contaminated or painted. But to find out if the pallet is treated with Methyl Bromide (MB) you have to look for it.
Pallets are usually marked or stamped on the longest sides of the pallet. Generally on the solid square block at the end of the long side. Some pallets do not contain any markings or stamps, pallets with no markings are only used locally.
Pallet Treatment Codes, Marking Guide:
- MB = Methyl Bromide: Toxic and dangerous to humand. Avoid use.
- EUR = Old Eu Pallet Logo: Might be treated with Chemicals. Avoid Use
- DB = Debarked: Untreated and Generally safe to use
- HT = Heat Treatet: Not tocix and generally safe to use
- KD = Kiln Dried: Untreated and generally safe to use
- Epal = New Eu Standard, debarked and generally safe to use
- Colors = Dangerous chemical, avoid use
How Well Does Pallet Wood Burn?
Pallet wood burns differently depending on what type of wood the pallet is made of. Pallets can be made from softwoods like pine and spruce. But can also be made from hardwoods like Oak and Poplar. But we can safely say that pallet wood burns hot and quick.
Pallets are most of the time made from either pine or poplar, these two wood types have a low density and will burn fast.
If you are lucky to find a pallet made of denser hardwoods like oak or cherry, you will have a fire that burns for longer with much more stable heat output.
The fact that pallets are already cut into small pieces and we break them down into even smaller pieces of wood contributes to the wood burning up faster. Smaller pieces of wood burn faster.
Again, pallet wood should be used for kindling and as an addition to conventional firewood.
If you are using pallet wood as your only source of firewood you will have to break up a lot of pallets and constantly refill the fire. It might be viable to only use pallet wood for firewood if you have a small house and a small fireplace.
Downsides Of Using Pallet Wood For Firewood?
As we all know, nothing is free in this world we live in. And that is also true with pallets. Pallets are free to obtain most of the time, but when using pallet wood for firewood we have to pay with our time and deterioration of our tools.
But some of these points are also true if you were to harvest, produce and season your own firewood from trees.
When we use pallets for firewood we have to spend time locating and transporting the pallets. Pallets take up a lot of space before they are disassembled so it is best to have a truck with a bed or a utility trailer to transport larger amounts of pallets at one time. 1 or 2 pallets won’t produce much firewood.
You will also have to invest a lot of time to disassemble the pallets into small enough units of wood depending on the size need to fit the wood properly into your fireplace.
Detariation Of Tools
Saw blades, power tools, and chainsaw chains will become dull just by general use. They need to be sharpened or replaced when they become too dull if you want to use them effectively. It costs money to buy new chains and blades and takes time to sharpen chains and blades.
Many pallets contain nails in the wood and are covered with dirt or sometimes even sand. Hitting a nail while sawing, or sawing through a dirty pallet will dull your tools extremely quickly. And it is bound to happen if you disassemble a lot of pallets. You do not always see the nail on the surface of the wood.
A cheap option is to only use your hand tools to disassemble pallets for firewood. But who has the time? Well, if you got the time, go ahead.
Here is a video by “Homestead Jay” where he explains the use of pallets for firewood in a good way:
Is Reclaiming Pallets For Firewood Worth It?
It is worth using reclaimed pallet wood for firewood do not have access to standard firewood, if you need wood for kindling, if you need quick access to dry firewood and if you want to save money.
The value of reclaimed firewood from pallets entirely depends on the situation of the user. In a perfect world, everybody would have access to large amounts of well-seasoned hickory firewood that produces heat for a long time. But that is not the case.
Need cheap firewood, use pallets for firewood.
Got the time to disassemble pallets, use pallets for firewood.
Live in an area where it is hard or expensive to obtain firewood, use pallet wood.
Wanna heat up the house without increasing the electrical bill, use pallet wood for firewood.
Cut down a tree for firewood but the firewood is not seasoned yet, use pallet wood in the meantime, it is dry.
But as I have said earlier. There are better woods to use for firewood, and pallet wood is generally bad for long-lasting fires. But if you have the need for it, go for it. Pallet wood will do the job.
Can You Use Unmarked And Unstamped Pallets For Firewood?
Unmarked and unstamped pallets are pallets that are only used locally. These pallets are most likely not treated with Methyl Bromide or any other pesticides. And can be used at your own risk.
Personally, I choose to not use pallets that I cannot see the marking on for firewood.
More About Pallet Wood
Hey, that was about it. By now you should have decided if you want to use pallet wood for firewood or not. As I final word, I want to say that I only use pallet wood for firewood when I need some good kindling or to use in an outdoor firepit.
Otherwise, I use standard self-cut and self-seasoned firewood for longer-lasting fires to heat up my home.