Sunday 21 November 2010

Burning recovered wood on your stove?

Another interesting topic that has raised a few interesting questions. You can read the full story about poisonous wooden pallets, here on the Nb Universe Blog.

Tony on Nb Universe wrote "At one time, the roof was piled four pallets high along its entire length, and I had to stay put until I’d chopped enough of them up to allow me to see where I was going. While I was doing this, a woman cycling along the towpath stopped and asked me whether it was ok to burn pallets. She was under the impression that they were treated with something nasty that makes them give off poisonous fumes. I didn’t know whether she was right or wrong but I thought I’d better check. What I found out is that pallets have to be treated to ensure that they cannot carry insects or plant diseases to other countries. Usually this involves heat treatment but some pallets, mostly from the USA, have been treated with a chemical called bromomethane, also known as methyl bromide. This is a seriously nasty chemical that damages various parts of the body, may be carcinogenic and attacks the ozone layer for good measure. Apparently it has now been phased out, but some pallets are still in use. "

I never knew that some of the wooden pallets you can find scattered around are poisonous. I have chopped up and burnt a large number of pallets in the past. I never gave it a second thought. I wonder how many pallets get burnt each year on the 5th of November for Guy Fawkes night. I tend to use pallet wood as kindling for starting the stove on board Rosie and also on the log burner at home. I shall take much more care to check for the markings in future.

This reminded me of the story in the paper a while back of a local man, who's dog was fond of carrying sticks. The dog became very ill and it was eventually diagnosed by the vet as having Labunum Poisoning. Laburnum is a popular flowering tree planted in many gardens. 

Wiki says:- "All parts of the plant are poisonous and can be lethal if consumed in excess. Symptoms of Laburnum poisoning may include intense sleepiness, vomiting, convulsive movements, coma, slight frothing at the mouth and unequally dilated pupils. In some cases, diarrhea is very severe and at times the convulsions are markedly tetanic."

Take care out there...



  1. Hi, and thanks for posting this. I didn't think anybody read my blog, but this is quite important so the more people see it the better.

  2. Hi Tony.

    I thought I was doing my bit by recycling the old pallets and rather than leaving them to slowly rot away. I gave them their last rites by burning them. However, in the full glare of hindsight, I might have been a bit less green than I thought.


    Mick and Mags.


Please put your name to your comment. Comments without a name may automatically be treated as spam and might not be included.

If you do not wish your comment to be published say so in your comment. If you have a tip or sensitive information you’d prefer to share anonymously, you may do so. I will delete the comment after reading.