Are wood pallets toxic firewood?

Written by donna eigen
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Are wood pallets toxic firewood?
Use only untreated pallets for firewood. (boxes and pallets image by timur1970 from

Pallets are used throughout the world to transport and store everything from concrete blocks to canned beans. Industries have arisen to manufacture, repair and recycle used wooden pallets. Plastic pallets are becoming more popular because, unlike wooden pallets, they are durable and insect-resistant. Wooden pallets are sometimes chemically treated with insecticides and preservatives and should not be used for firewood.

Chemicals in Pallets

Wood pallets are commonly treated with chemicals that contain arsenic, formaldehyde and other toxic substances. Treated wood should not be used for firewood, home remodelling projects, landscaping or animal bedding because it may release the chemicals into the air or ground.

Identifying Treated Wood

Wood that has been chemically treated looks more brown, grey or green than untreated wood. Some wood has identifying marks to signify it has been treated. The wood can also be tested in a laboratory or in the field to see if chemicals are present. Painted wood, which is easier to identify, also should not be burnt.

Recycling Wood Pallets

Untreated wood pallets can be used for fuel or salvaged for use in building, construction and landscaping projects. Check with your local municipality or waste recycling company for the best way to recycle or dispose of treated wood.

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