Keeping mold off of newly constructed wooden pallets is a constant year round battle. For obvious reasons, most pallet buyers do not want the green or white fuzzy stuff growing on the outside of their newly purchased pallets. Not only can mold be displeasing to look at and handle, but for some pallet buyers mold can cause a real problem when it comes to the health and safety of the users that come into contact with it.
So why does mold grow on pallets, and how can it be prevented?
Requirements for mold to grow:
Like it or not, microscopic mold spores fill the air undetected by the human eye, and are present on every surface. Keeping that in mind, mold spores need only a few different factors to become an active problem.
Oxygen: Stagnant air can create the perfect habitat for mold spores to germinate. Lack of air movement does not allow for the freshly sawn green lumber used in wooden pallets to air dry. Lack of breathability = potential for mold.
Food source: Freshly sawn lumber contains water and nutrients, both of which are needed for a mold colony to grow.
Water: Lumber with a moisture content above 20% will support mold growth. Even if lumber is kiln dried to 19% or lower moisture content, this does not mean that it cannot be susceptible to mold if moisture is reintroduced to the lumber. Rain can become a mold culprit when kiln dried lumber is stored outside without a paper wrap.
Temperature: Mold can grow on pallets in temperatures as low as 32 degrees fahrenheit. With most pallets being stored indoors, these favorable temperatures help to accelerate mold growth.
Now that we know why mold grows on wooden pallets, we must take a look at some of the easy ways to keep it from happening.
How to prevent mold growth:
Store pallets in a clean and dry environment
Leave at least 1 - 2 feet of space between pallet stacks to allow for air flow
Use proper ventilation if stored indoors, or inside semi trailers
Avoid overnight storage within dry semi trailers (if the pallets are constructed out of green lumber) AT ALL COSTS - we will notify customers beforehand if their pallets are made with green lumber
Use fans if possible to help dry out the pallets
Rotate your pallet inventory first in first out
Utilize kiln dried softwood in your pallets instead of fresh green lumber
Mold doesn’t have to always be a battle. Instead of being reactive, try to become proactive! Being proactive by following the tips above is essential to reducing the likelihood of having a problem. At Konz Wood Products,we even have our own pallet drying warehouse that we use everyday to help combat moisture harbored within the pallets. This essential addition to our operation allows us to keep dry food grade pallets on hand at short notice, and provide the peace of mind that your stock is in good hands.