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Anybody use old pallets for firewood?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by woody1, Jan 8, 2009.

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  1. woody1

    woody1 Member

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    The title says it all. I have a place I can get pallets from, mixed oak and pine, just curious if anyone uses them. What about the nails?

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  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Most people use them to stack real firewood on. There's a good chance they have been treated and would release really bad stuff if burned.
  3. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    Pallets are okay if you are short on real wood. Specially if they are already reasonibly dry and ready to burn.

    Myself, I have access to western red cedar mill ends that I buy every 3 years or so that I purchase in 5 cord multiples for $50 per cord. This is my preference because no nails, no extra cutting, and it gets the insert cranking hot in a big hurry. Pallets will do much the same thing for you if they are already dry and don`t have the treated chemicals in them.

    Gotta do for yourself what your budget will allow for.
  4. mainstation

    mainstation Feeling the Heat

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    I have in the past, in a pinch, burnt hardwood pallets. Just the cut the usable stuff with your saw. I would never, knowingly, burn wood with nails in my stove, mainly because more often than not, I would need the ashes for my icy laneway and wouldn't want to risk a flat tire.
  5. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    I knew peeps that only burned pallets...they go to work in the city make their rounds on the way home with 6 or so pallets and disassemble when they get home. Always said I was crazy to work so hard cutting wood etc.

    They were so happy doing that they were actually picky with offers of free wood.
  6. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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  7. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Burned hundreds of pallets. Just oak, why bother with pine? Stack em up 4 or 5 high. Cut the slats right next to the center runner, both sides, with a skill saw. Grab the slats one at a time and wrench off. Flip remains over, repeat. Cut the runners where they are notched for the side ways fork. Extra care avoiding nails when cutting runners. Makes great firewood.
  8. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    They got me through my first year when I ran out of wood.

    Matt
  9. bluefrier

    bluefrier Feeling the Heat

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    Burning some right now....just be careful not to overfire because they burn hot and fast (especially the thin pieces).
  10. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Lots o' work for little wood.
  11. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I have a love-hate relationship with pallets.

    I find myself lusting after them whenever I'm riding around town and spot them just lying there beside a business and I find myself fantasizing about cutting them up and burning them . . . free wood is good.

    But then I get my trailer and haul them home and realize that they are quite a bit of work and my relationship with the pallets cools off . . . I begin to think that they are a lot of extra work to cut up and the stacked pile of cut up pallets just isn't as sexy looking as a neatly stacked pile of hardwood.

    However, when I use these pallets to really get the stove cranking in a flash or as kindling I remember how much I lusted after these pallets in the first place and begin to think that I should really get some more to replenish my stock. . . .

    And then I realize how fast they burn up and begin to wonder if this love-hate relationship was worth the time I put into it.

    As you can see . . . a love/hate relationship.

    On the pro-side: pallets are free (ask first is my mantra before taking 'em), they usually burn up pretty well (sometimes too well as loading up a firebox full of them can lead to overfiring) and are great for getting the stove up to temp quickly or as kindling.

    On the con-side: pallets have plenty of nails and as such it seems that there is no real quick or fool proof method to cutting them up (although I've tried them all from Sawz-Alls to circular saws to chainsaws and busting them up with a sledgehammer), while the wood is free and looks like a lot in the back of a trailer or pick-up the stacked pile results in a lot less wood vs. scrounging or cutting up a tree or branches and finally you do have to be careful of the nails in the ashes if you're planning on putting the ashes on a garden/driveway/lawn . . . and also some folks with cat converters say there may be some possible issues.
  12. Risser09

    Risser09 New Member

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    I think pallets are a great addition to the splits already being used. I get the oak/pine kind at work. The pine burns hot and fast to get the fire going quickly, and the oak slats serve as a way to get sustainable heat by filling in the empty gaps, in order to pack your stove. Plus they don't end up in a land fill (my work tosses so many of them, despite my vocal intent to burn them).

    I get a lot of *new* pallets at work, where the nails are very easy to pull out b/c they aren't rusted. The older ones can be a PITA to pry apart, so it's more efficient just to cut those pieces out of the pallet and trash them. I don't like putting nails in my stove, I would hate to have one get stuck in my grate or end up in my garden.

    As far as the time and effort, to each his own. I don't have a splitter, so I can't easily make a bunch of kindling strips with my maul. My wood is more efficiently left alone to be cord wood. I feel comfortable having a bunch of kindling and 16" board lengths ready to go at all times because I'm that type of person. This summer I plan on filling two huge boxes with kindling, one of small scraps and pieces, the other with 16" board lengths of oak/pine. What else would I be doing, watching tv? Plus, it's winter and there's not much else to do.
  13. free75degrees

    free75degrees New Member

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    I cut up about a cord of pallet wood this last fall beause i knew I would be short on seasoned wood. I got them mostly from a landscape stone supplier so they are very heavy duty ones - most slats are 1 inch thick. They are great for the part of the fire startup stack between the newspaper/kindling and the logs.

    As far as the amount of work required, I think they are about the same amount of work as normal wood splits. I tried using a circ saw and a chain saw and found the circ was much better. I used a rough blade that can cut nails, which is key. A chain saw will always hit nails no matter how careful you are.
  14. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    I have cut up pallets with a circular saw with a carbide blade in it. You can't ignore the nails but you won't ditz a blade if you nick one. I burned them with the nails in. Just moved the ashes around until I got them to fall into the ash pan then used a "tool" holding bar magnet to swirl around in the ashes to collect the nails. Used gloves because they were hot. It was not fun but I used oak pallets whenever I could. Lots of heat but for the cost involved in extra trips to pick them up you kind of lose cash incentive so plan your trips to pick up pallets to coincide with other trips you have to make. Some place like to have junk pallets moved on a dependable basis and you could set up a regular pick-up date to cut costs. A trick on the bar magnet is to remove the first magnet in the end of the bar that you use to "fish" through the ashes (they are usually epoxied in so your first use in hot ash will help loosen the magnet) to retrieve the nails. You will get more nails with less fight to get them off the magnet bar.
  15. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    I managed to find a pretty good pallet source so I'm going to experiment with burning different mixtures of pallet wood and splits to see what kind of burn times I get. As for pallets being treated they are either kiln baked (commonly stamped "HT") to kill bugs or gassed. Gassing leaves no residue so there's no risk there. What I am running into more and more are pallets that have been painted blue and white which is irritating since they're usually the heavy hardwood type but the paint makes them un-burnable. I use them to stack on.
  16. Chumley

    Chumley New Member

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    I've burned them before as kindling but switch to cord wood once my fire is going. One needs to exercise caution with kiln dried wood.
  17. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    A buddy of mine did this for a year.

    The next year he got his schidt together and had enough real firewood for the winter.
  18. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    I'm always on the lookout for rare (here) oak pallets to use for kindling and to warm up a cold stove. I won't use it for anything beyond that, though.
  19. free75degrees

    free75degrees New Member

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    I was wondering about kiln dried pallets or kiln dried wood in general... Is it possible that the kiln is hot enough to remove some of the flammable wood gasses? This wood suck cause it would lower the energy content of the wood. Anybody know if this happens? If the kilns they use have precautions like significant venting to remove gasses then that might be a sign that some valuable gasses are being removed.
  20. Malatesta

    Malatesta New Member

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    My neighbor uses kiln dried wood scraps and rough lumber cuts ,he swares it burns hotter ? One thing for sure it lights very easy.

    Palletts are Ok as long as there not pressure treated or have been painted. But hten you have to deal with all those nails.

    They seem to burn up to fast, but if thats all you can get. Hay burn it !
  21. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    At a former place of work I would saw up the unwanted pallets on our huge industrial bandsaw. It worked great, and as it was a metal cutting one, hitting a nail wouldn't wreck the blade. So I never made special trips for it.

    A local pallet removal company once offered to deliver pallets, whole and broken to me for free since I am in the city and thus convenient to them. However they would bring a five ton truck load at a time so I declined. I have just a regular size city lot so this might end up becoming a huge mess.

    I wouldn't worry about the small amount of paint on the pallets. It's not lead anymore.
  22. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Sorry you feel that way. Heated a five thousand square foot shop for six years for free with wood that was right out side the door. If you are strong and good at it, it's not bad at all. Kinda strange comment from a guy planning to grow three twenty foot tall trees for firewood someday in the future huh?
  23. Jake

    Jake Member

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    we usually run our between 120-150, So i doubt it
  24. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    There's not much to be had around here for free pallets. They want big money for them here. Too much money for me to lay them on the ground to rot and the free ones are so beat up and odd sized they wouldn't make for a good base either. I just go out back and cut all the sacrifice wood I want for laying on the ground.

    As for burning, I couldn't be bothered to scrounge pallets and bust them up to burn. I would never trust that they haven't been treated or had chemicals spilled on them. I don't mind paying for good quality logs to be delivered to my yard. If I were too cheap to pay for good wood, I could go out back and cut as much as I wanted.
  25. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    I don't think they're much more work than cutting and splitting. Maybe less. They burn up too hot and fast for my liking, though. If I filled my stove with pallet, I'm pretty sure it would run away. If I had no other wood, and could stay near the stove all the time, I'd burn free pallets. I'm glad have them for kindling, nothing's better.
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