What are your thoughts on chemically treated lumber?


MaryMary

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There are about a million YouTube videos on re-purposing old pallets. Tutorials on everything; raised beds, planters, trellises, you name it. Then you hear that chemically treated lumber is bad. So tell me, what do you think?

I like to re-use and recycle any time I can. Whenever possible I also like to acquire >FREE< things!! (y) Behind the dumpster at the local convenience store, there are three old pallets. They've been sitting there for at least two years. I am positive the owner would be willing to let me have them.

Wouldn't the chemicals eventually be rinsed out by the rain and snow? How bad are these chemicals, anyway? And bad for what ? Do they poison the flowers and then kill the bees? Do they poison the veggies, and make me sick? :cautious:

Is there a non-toxic waterproof paint I could use to seal them in? Could I build what I want to build and then staple plastic sheeting to the inside to act as a barrier? (The leftover plastic I insulated my windows with last winter comes to mind...)

Any advice or information appreciated.

I have power tools and I am not afraid to use them!!



Ok, ok, they are my boyfriend's power tools, and after the unfortunate incident with the hedge trimmers, I am a little bit afraid to use them. :whistle:

:eek:
 
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It really is a good thing to do because you're somehow increasing the lumber's life, it also makes it look better and more suitable to whatever you may want to use it for, however, I do not really think that the rain or snow could affect the lumber because the chemicals are somewhat protecting the lumber against many of those phenomena, it all depends on the kind of lumber and the chemicals that you are going to use, keep in mind there are many different kinds for different purposes, that's my opinion though.
 
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There are about a million YouTube videos on re-purposing old pallets. Tutorials on everything; raised beds, planters, trellises, you name it. Then you hear that chemically treated lumber is bad. So tell me, what do you think?

I like to re-use and recycle any time I can. Whenever possible I also like to acquire >FREE< things!! (y) Behind the dumpster at the local convenience store, there are three old pallets. They've been sitting there for at least two years. I am positive the owner would be willing to let me have them.

Wouldn't the chemicals eventually be rinsed out by the rain and snow? How bad are these chemicals, anyway? And bad for what ? Do they poison the flowers and then kill the bees? Do they poison the veggies, and make me sick? :cautious:

Is there a non-toxic waterproof paint I could use to seal them in? Could I build what I want to build and then staple plastic sheeting to the inside to act as a barrier? (The leftover plastic I insulated my windows with last winter comes to mind...)

Any advice or information appreciated.

I have power tools and I am not afraid to use them!!



Ok, ok, they are my boyfriend's power tools, and after the unfortunate incident with the hedge trimmers, I am a little bit afraid to use them. :whistle:

:eek:
Treated lumber changed in the early 2000's from an arsenic based preservative to copper based. Treated lumber is made by putting lumber into a big vat and removing all of the oxygen and making a vacuum. Then the chemical is applied under high pressure. Needless to say todays treated lumber is not nearly as good as it once was. Pallets are not usually treated. Treated lumber is used where ground contact is likely and exposure to rain for sure over a long period of time. The chemicals used today are not very harmful to anything except rot and won't harm insects.
 

MaryMary

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@Chuck, so if I am reading your post correctly, then store-bought chemically treated lumber is something that can be used in the garden? And if I want a more permanent structure, then that is what I should use?

But if I am willing to do a patch and repair job every so often, then I can use old pallets, (newer than 2000,) and not worry about them, either? :)
 
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@Chuck, so if I am reading your post correctly, then store-bought chemically treated lumber is something that can be used in the garden? And if I want a more permanent structure, then that is what I should use?

But if I am willing to do a patch and repair job every so often, then I can use old pallets, (newer than 2000,) and not worry about them, either? :)
Correct. All of the newer treated lumber is copper based. The EPA stopped the use of arsenic based treatments. Pallets aren't treated. Good pallets are made of oak and will last a while but the light weight ones are made of popular or some other soft wood and will rot quickly if left outside.
 
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EPA regulations only govern US-made pallets though, right?
A huge percentage* of pallets in the US originate from China and other countries, and are possibly soaked with harmful preservatives or infested with invasive insects. So much of what we purchase nowadays comes from China and other countries with questionable environmental practices.

*I couldn't quickly find an authoritave cite with precise numbers but google "wood pallets from china" and draw your own conclusions.
 
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It seems as though in 2002 China started the ball rolling on pallets. They insisted on either pressure treating, fumigation or heat treating. Heat treating is the cheapest so that's what everyone does that still uses wood pallets. Most have switched to PVC or plastic. There is a HUGE global economy in pallets so every penny that can be saved will be.
http://oneway-solutions.com/regulations
 

MaryMary

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@Chuck, I called the toll-free # at your link, and he said he wasn't sure, since they are a plastic pallet company. He said most pallets are untreated, and the ones that are treated would be marked. His "overall feeling" is that they are perfectly safe.

@Beth_B, I googled "wood pallets from China" and they seem to be fumigated for some kind of horned beetle, the precise name eludes me right now.

I have contacted the Horticultural department at Michigan State University, via their "Lawn and Garden hotline." The woman who answered the phone didn't know the answer either, but she is going to look it up, and call me back. She said her "gut feeling" is not to use them.

Just as a slight hijack, she seemed happy to be stumped, and complimented me on my "very good question." :geek: This is how you tell the difference between a true Educator, and a mere teacher who only shows up for the paycheck. (y) (y) Her name is Mary.:ROFLMAO:
 

MaryMary

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  • The IPPC logo :
    This is the logo for the International Plant Protection Convention ( IPPC) Pallets that are shipped internationally are required to be made of material that will not carry invasive insect species or plant disease. To meet IPPC standards, a pallet can not be made of raw wood that has not been treated. These pallets must be treated by one of the two following methods, and the treatment will be under the supervision of an agency approved to do this. (snip)

Heat Treatment [HT] The wood has to heated for at least 30 minutes to a minimum core temperature of at least 132.8 °F /56° C. A Pallet treated this way will be stamped with [HT], and it should appear near the stamp of the IPPC logo
Chemical Fumigation [MB] The wood was fumigated with a chemical called methyl bromide. A pallet treated with this should be stamped with the letters [MB] and it should appear near the IPPC logo. Although the use of methyl bromide was banned in March 2010 as an acceptable treatment under IPPC, you may still find a pallet that was treated using this method.
***If you see the letters MB stamped on a pallet, do not use it**

http://diyready.com/how-to-know-if-a-pallet-is-safe/
 
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MaryMary

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Mary was very helpful, and led me to the website I have quoted above. (y)

In addition to the information above, she told me:

Pallets made in the U.S. are expected to conform to the IPPC standards. They may have no markings at all.

In addition to HT, they could be marked KD, which stands for "kiln dried."

If you see DB, all that means is "de-barked."

Do not use a pallet that appears dirty, even if they have not been treated, they may have had chemicals spilled on them.
 
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