Pallet Craft #16: Fumigation Treatment of Pallets

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Blog entry by Ethan Harris posted 08-02-2012 01:59 PM 2004 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 15: Heat treating lumber Part 16 of Pallet Craft series Part 17: Share your project Ideas! »

This and more at my blog: Pallet Craft!

Hello Readers!

Today I am going to share with you the other treatment method used on pallet wood; fumigation using Methyl Bromide. First, I would like to state that using these pallets that have been fumigated using methyl bromide could be extremely dangerous to your health!

What is Methyl Bromide?

Methyl Bromide is manufactured from naturally occurring bromide salts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers this gas to be an ozone depleting substance (ODS) that can thin the atmosphere. Most commonly used on strawberries in California, Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) used in citrus drinks as a preservative of flavors and in other post harvest applications (that’s right folks, you eat this stuff).

Regulatory Groups

The IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) in 2002 set methyl bromide as the only fumigant allowed to be used in pallet pest control. The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) also adopted these regulations in 2005. The National Wood Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) manages the regulation of this treatment method in the United States.


The lumber which will become pallet wood is locked into an air sealed chamber where it is gassed for 24 hours while maintaining a temperature of at least 52 degrees Fahrenheit. The wood pallets are then marked similarly to the following stamp.

My Recommendation

I do not recommend using fumigated pallets for wood working. I do not endorse the use of methyl bromide in any application either. Use heat treated wood instead and save the environment and don’t take any risks!

-- Ethan, CT: Check out my Small Business at & also follow me on twitter

3 comments so far

View Bob817's profile


679 posts in 3349 days

#1 posted 01-13-2013 05:40 PM

This is a good write up and information alot of people like myself don’t think of when we get free wood until you start working with it and all of a sudden get theese funky odors from it.Thanks for the info.

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View palaswood's profile


1061 posts in 2718 days

#2 posted 01-24-2014 10:56 PM

Its nice that you have your fellow woodworker’s concern in mind, but I did some research, you may be surprised to learn that pallets fumigated using methyl bromide are in no way harmful to your health, aside from possible dust inhalation from already toxic wood species used in constructing the pallet.

Methyl bromide fumigation is only done by professionals in cases where the IPPC stamp is applied, and in such a process the pallets are gassed for 24 – 36 hours in a controlled environment, monitored by gas chromatography equipment. It is not commonly known that these pallets do not even leave the gas chamber until the methyl bromide has dissipated to t remain on the pallets in any measurable quantity.

You may also be surprised to learn that an acceptable ratio of methyl bromide present in FOOD for human consumption was higher than 50ppm as recently as 1970s, when methyl bromide was used as a pesticide in cereals and grains used in food production.

You still may not want to take the chance but if you really like the wood, I dont see an issue re-using it as long as proper safety measures are taken like would be used in the sanding of any wood, ie dust mask.

Just my opinion, but based on scientific evidence. As for funky odors, DONT re-use a pallet if some unknown substance has been visibly spilled on it – that could be a REALLY nasty chemical.

-- Joseph, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram

View MrMeasureTwice's profile


128 posts in 3388 days

#3 posted 08-02-2015 02:27 PM

Hey Ethan – great series on pallets – there’s a handy site that explains all about pallet wood safety, for national as well as international pallets.

There’s also a blurb about the colored ones like the big box stores use, especially like WalMart. Always wondered why all the pallets they use are either blue or red. Now I know thanks to this web page.

-- May your shop be filled with chips and sawdust all year long, – “Mr. Measure Twice”

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