Mold: A Pallet's Nemesis

No one wants moldy pallets. Mold can compromise the structural integrity of a pallet by causing softening and decay. It also poses a health and safety risk, both to workers handling the pallets and consumers at the receiving end of them. As one of the leading technical issues with wood products, mold is a major hurdle you’ll want to prevent before it becomes a problem.

Millwood’s own pallet expert, Ralph Rupert, has weighed in on the importance of mold prevention.

“The key to preventing pallet mold is to look at its origin – water,” Rupert said.

Moisture is the worst enemy of pallets all year round. In the winter, this moisture can freeze pallets together and damage them. Given that many wooden pallets are made from green wood, which has a naturally high moisture content, it can be difficult to avoid.

“The spores that create mold are all around us, but without oxygen, a food source, and moisture, those spores can’t develop into mold,” Rupert said. “While chemical approaches can be effective for mold removal, the most practical way to prevent molding is by restricting moisture in the environment.”

In the event that your pallets fall victim to mold infestation, you do have treatment options. When permitted, prophylactic fungicides can be applied to pallets to fight mold that is already present. However, prevention is the best remedy. Here are our top tips on how to prevent mold on your pallets.

  1. Store pallets inside in a place that can be kept dry. Leaving pallets out in the rain or humidity leaves them at risk of mold growth.
  2. Be sure to store pallets and lumber off the ground.
  3. Keep the storage area ventilated. Stagnant air prevents surface moisture on the pallets from evaporating.
  4. Avoid storing pallets on trailers. They are humid and provide little opportunity for air movement, making them a perfect home for mold.
  5. Regularly take moisture content readings so you can be confident you are storing your pallets and lumber in a safe location.
  6. Unload pallets as quickly as possible. The less time spent in moist environments, the better.
  7. Use kiln or air-dried lumber, which can limit mold colonization as long as the pallets are not rewetted.

“With proper care, mold can be avoided to preserve the integrity of pallets and wood products,” Rupert said.

Safe, structurally-sound pallets are critical to your unit load. Follow these tips, and you’re much more likely to avoid one of the most common pallet issues, which will save you money on pallets and ensure your products’ safety.

Author: Jessica Chizmar