How to Safely Burn Pallet Wood

Bonfires are one of the most quintessential autumn activities in much of the United States. Gathering with friends and family around a fire making smores or telling stories are a favorite pastime for chilly, fall nights. But what happens when you run out of firewood? Can you burn leftover pallets instead?
Yes, you can! Pallets have a wide variety of uses beyond their express purpose in shipping. Pallet projects are a popular and safe way to save money on building projects for everything from furniture to decor. Using leftover pallets in the place of other kinds of lumber can save money and have a positive impact on the environment by recycling a product that otherwise may have gone to waste. 
That applies to burning pallets as well. Take it from Norway, where the world’s tallest bonfire was built with pallets several years in a row! However, not every pallet can be burned, and you will need to take steps to ensure that you are burning pallets safely. These tips will help guide you.
  1. Do not burn pallets with paint or chemical residue of any kind. Pallets that were used to carry chemical products can sometimes be subject to spillage. Though these kinds of pallets can be cleaned off and used for building projects, burning them may release harmful fumes into the air. 
  2. Do not burn pallets that are marked with an “[MB].” These pallets have been treated with the fumigant methyl bromide, which will release toxic chemicals into the air when burned. Avoid chemically-treated pallets and instead opt for ones that have been heat-treated, which will typically be stamped with “[HT].” If a pallet does not have markings on it, it is considered a national pallet used for domestic shipping purposes. These pallets are usually not treated with chemicals and would most likely be safe to burn.
  3. Remove any nails or fittings from the pallet. Leaving these behind can be dangerous for the environment and any other people or animals that may come along after you, especially in places like public parks. Either remove them prior to burning you pallets or be very sure to pick up each one and dispose of them properly. 
Pallets are by and large safe to burn when the proper precautions are taken. They can also be used in wood fireplaces, though it is not recommended that they be your only source of firewood in those cases. Also, keep in mind that until the current pallet market levels out, you may want to hold onto those valuable pallets anyway.
Author: Jessica Chizmar