1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Burning pallets

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by El Finko, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. El Finko

    El Finko Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2012
    Messages:
    116
    Loc:
    Mason Dixon Line
    Other than well seasoned firewood, are there any other fuels to consider in a wood stove? I just read something about burning pallets and am wondering if that's okay.
    What about scrap 2x4 lumber and the like- obviously no pressure-treated...

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    5,950
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    I use pallets as kindling, although I've always wondered if I should, as I suspect some of them may be treated. I've always assumed the oak pallets are untreated, and that they'd only treat pine pallets, if at all.

    The problem with using pallets as a primary fuel source is they have a very high surface to volume ratio. In other words, very hot, very fast fires. Not to say it can't be done, but I'd be careful of loading a stove too full with pallet wood.
    Realstone likes this.
  3. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Sounds like you have it figured out El Finko. It seems many burn pallet lumber, usually mixing it with not well seasoned wood. One thing you must be careful on with both pallets and the scrap lumber is that if you burn only that, please do not fill the firebox. That stuff will take off like a rocket and you could be facing a serious overheating situation.

    There are also some eco-bricks on the market; several types I believe but I've never burned them. Some do to stretch their wood supply.

    Another thing on the pallets is the nails. Some do not worry and just remove them with the ashes. Others remove the nails before burning. Others cut up the pallets and just cut out the spots with nails. If you take them out with the ashes, where are the ashes going? Remember the nails...


    Let me also invite you to the Wood Shed which is another forum here on hearth.com. That forum is dedicated only to the wood we burn. Much information to be gleaned there.
    ScotO, Realstone and pen like this.
  4. hemlock

    hemlock Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Messages:
    455
    Loc:
    east coast canada
    I've burned them in the past, but found the hassle was not worth it. Cutting them up was a pain, and no matter how careful I tried to be, it seemed there was always that one nail.... They do make good kindling, however, and can be good to jump start a cranky fire with less than perfect wood.
  5. n3pro

    n3pro Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    547
    Loc:
    Enola, PA (near Harrisburg the unknown Capitol.
    I burn any wood that's not treated, painted or glued. Pallets, lumber scraps, whatever. My part time job is property management so I tend to get a nice stock pile of lumber scraps. I have used a lot of pallets and stuff previous years because the Napoleon only got 4 - 5 hour burns and with my working schedule that ment many cold starts or barely warm starts so I needed a lot of that type of wood. With the Englander I'm expecting to use a whole lot less of that type.
  6. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2008
    Messages:
    876
    Loc:
    Mass north of Boston
    $100 dollar bills?;)

    I burn lots of pallets, the OPE store around the corner puts out these nice oak pallets, they are easy to take apart, then I cut them up with a radial arm saw. I always like to keep a good supply in the basement. I use pallet wood to start my fires, for my stove I can put in a good size load of pallet wood and not worry too much about over firing, as my stove is not that big and I have digital temp/alarms to monitor the stove and flue temp.
    Picture 176.jpg Picture 177.jpg
  7. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,785
    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    They got me through my first winter. After that I knew how much wood I'd need and was able to scounge it.

    Matt
  8. SteveKG

    SteveKG Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2009
    Messages:
    561
    Loc:
    Colorado Rockies
    I've burned pallets, mainly when I need to get rid of some or a friend does. As others have said, proceed with caution as to burning. They do burn furiously, or can. I don't put them in a stove but use them in a fireplace. Only one piece of pallet, though, at a time in the fire, along with the normal wood I burn.

    I used to cut them up with a chainsaw. Be careful, the wood slats can bind and be a pain. So, nowadays I forgo the chainsaw and use a Sawzall. Much safer, I think, than the chainsaw.

    But it is perfectly usable wood.
  9. Treacherous

    Treacherous Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 13, 2010
    Messages:
    887
    Loc:
    WA state
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,022
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    Be careful here. If you are new to wood burning this is not a good idea. A big load of palette wood can cause a runaway overfire, especially in a big firebox like the 30NC. Several stove manufacturers warn against using this wood for this reason.

    Used judiciously it can be done, but you need to know the stove and what you are doing to be safe. I would not do this in a new stove for the first season. It takes time to get used to how the stove burns. That is going to depend on the flue system, the wood and most importantly, the operator. If you must use this wood, mix only a little in with some larger splits. Don't try to burn a full load or you will be messing up your pants big time.
  11. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    14,862
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    I burned pallets in my first year of burning . . . as mentioned . . . if used judiciously they work fine (most seem to be heat treated) . . . ditto for dimensional lumber.

    The cons with pallets and lumber is the ability to over-fire the stove due to the small size of the pieces, nails or screws (you probably will not want to scatter the ashes in your driveway or garden) and in the case of pallets the time to cut or tear them apart.

    In my first year with less than optimal wood I used pallets to help get the fire going and up to temp which helped quite a bit . . . they worked well . . . but for me personally the time and energy spent cutting and attempting to stack the odd shaped pieces (and the aforementioned nails) wasn't worth it for me.

    I still however cut up un-used lumber scraps -- mostly for use as kindling though.
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    5,950
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    I read that thread, and did not get the opinion that it's a huge concern to occassionally burn some pallet wood with nails. Did you actually read the whole thread, or just the first post or two?

    I've been burning plenty of pallet wood and other framing lumber with nails in my cat stove. No sign of any problem so far, but my cat is relatively new.
  13. ozzy73

    ozzy73 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2008
    Messages:
    179
    Loc:
    ON, Canada
    Pallet wood is great in the shoulder season nails and all. Quick hot fire to warm up the stove/room.
    I am pretty luck, I do have a source that splits/cuts the pallets.
  14. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Messages:
    852
    Loc:
    Southern ON
    Considering ALL the work necessary in processing standing timber into usable firewood (don't forget the time component!), it seems that perhaps there may be benefits to burning pre-processed wood like construction lumber and pallets, especially if you live in a more urban setting with limited space for processing and storage (dimensional lumber stacks way tighter). N3pro, have you processes standing timber as well? How would you compare the work vs BTU's in the end?
  15. WellSeasoned

    WellSeasoned Guest

    We use pallets here at work, and some that are broken apart, I will further process into smaller pieces, nails and all. I have a large magnet I retrieve the nails with post ash can. I simple use these pieces during a cold start. My forklift smashes them, and into a huge gaylord they go, and I fill up a box a week to take home. Be well
  16. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    3,625
    Loc:
    Eastern Central PA
    I burn mostly scrap wood from home remodeling jobs during the day and save my Seasoned oak for overnight burns. THe pine burns through faster so during the day im around to reload. Never had an overfire issue and im use 3 different brands of stoves on a regular basis, mainly on older masonry chimneys with weaker draft so that may help with overfiring. Got to get rid of the scrap pine anyway,may as well turn it into BTUs
    Realstone likes this.
  17. n3pro

    n3pro Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    547
    Loc:
    Enola, PA (near Harrisburg the unknown Capitol.
    Yes I processed standing timber (mostly buy though) but my part-time job is property management and trees do occasionally need disposed of (DARN!) and as with anything related to wood there are many variables to answer that. Depending upon the size and species there might be a lot more work with a standing timber but you get a whole lot more BTU's due to much more wood. Pallets are fairly easy but again require a lot of care because they will burn hot and fast. Most of my pallets I take a circular saw to, go up one side of the stringers? (I don't know the proper name the thinner pieces that connect the larger pieces), then the middle then the other side. I can do a few pallets rather quickly unless some unforeseen problem. I have 4 cord of cut, split, stacked wood and 14 pallets. I have about 4 pallets cut up at the moment. If you are looking for occasional or evening only fires then pallets would be much less work, if your trying to do some real heating cord wood is much better.
    Realstone likes this.
  18. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Messages:
    852
    Loc:
    Southern ON
    Thanks. There are a few sources of pallets reasonably close to me (and we're talking a large # of skids) and I'm trying to justify chasing them. I have a van for pick up, so I could probably only get six to eight skids in. I'll just have to go out try a load and see how it goes. On the upside, they are fully seasoned and stack really tight.
  19. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    5,950
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    Go get'em! Use the good ones for stacking cordwood, and the bad ones for kindling.
  20. n3pro

    n3pro Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    547
    Loc:
    Enola, PA (near Harrisburg the unknown Capitol.
    I totally agree get them while you can. Just like other things in life if you don't need them they are everywhere, when you don't have any and really need some there won't be any anywhere! - from personal experience.

    Even if you don't burn them I have found other uses. Many have built wood sheds, I stack my wood on them, the wood works well for door repair, wedges, door props, leveling a washer, mix paint, paint brush extender, and the list is growing.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
  21. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Messages:
    3,625
    Loc:
    Eastern Central PA
    You can use the rough cut pallet wood for home remodeling same as knotty pine walls and ceilings. I burn wood with nails as i have all non-cat stoves ,never had a problem,once in a while ill use a magnet to clear out the stove of nails. Burning clean scrap wood is truly ECO-friendly IMO.
  22. TJ_SEWI

    TJ_SEWI New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2012
    Messages:
    1
    My workplace receives raw steel & aluminum sheets on over-sized (3"x4"x12' runners with 1" oak or 5/4" pine x 48" top slats) pallets in either all oak or pine slats on spruce runners (they are definitely lighter and easier to remove nails from!).

    In this case, these are untreated, kiln-dried wood, and I'll will be using them a lot this winter. (Once I get my new Summit installed.) My company has to pay to dispose of the pallets, so they are more than happy to let me have 'em! Smaller pallets might be treated or scuffed badly, and I wouldn't be so sure about them. I've even seen ones that are stapled together!

    Cross slats are spaced about a foot apart, so it's very easy to use the leverage of two loose boards to pop-up the nailed ones. Sometimes the nails stay-put in the runners, especially in the oak, and the nails are all spiral variety. What I've found to work best at removing those nails is putting a small pry-bar (12" or so) under the nail head, flat-side-up, and then use a 36" bar underneath that. Otherwise the curved shape of the pry-bar or hammer's claw will just deform the nail head and send it flying. In cases where the nail head goes flying, I have a Dead-On-Tools extraction tool that I'm very fond of (I think it could remove a splinter from my finger!)

    That amounts to about 60+lbs of oak/pine in about 5-7min of work to remove nails and a few more minutes to saw it into 16-18" lengths. The pine slats are also easy to split into kindling.
    And I plan to mix the sawdust with old candles to make some small fire starters - a coworker of mine uses paper egg-cartons as molds, 12 per box.

    It does burn fast, but it stacks better than anything else and the price is right! My FIL thinks I should just burn it with the nails still in, but I don't want a red-hot nail to damage the firebox or the glass for that matter.

    TJ in SE Wisc.

    PS These heavy pallets are also great for swing-sets, picnic tables, saw-horses, etc.

    Attached Files:

  23. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Messages:
    852
    Loc:
    Southern ON
    Hey TJ, welcome to the forum where it is safe to admit your addiction to scoring, storing & burning wood of all kinds :)
    If you have a non-cat stove, burn with nails in, I say. Too much bother and waste trying to remove them. But that's just my opinion.
    Joful likes this.
  24. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    One thing, if you burn them, make sure they are not glued or soaked with chemicals (some pallets have a lot of compressed-sawdust wood in them), and if the wood is highly discolored like acid or something was leaking on it, stay away from that stuff too. That can be REALLY bad for your stove and pipe...
    Backwoods Savage and Realstone like this.
  25. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2012
    Messages:
    852
    Loc:
    Southern ON
    Scotty, I love you man.
    When things get quiet here, I like to sit back and watch your avatar change :)
    ScotO likes this.

Share This Page