What Are Heat Treated Pallets and Why Are They Important for Your Operation?

What Are Heat Treated Pallets and Why Are They Important?

Heat treated pallets are becoming a de facto standard for international shipping. Yet many don’t know what they are or fully understand the benefits of heat treating pallets. In this article, we’ll explain both and explain why they’re so important for your operation.

An Overview of the Heat Treating of Pallets

During the heat treatment process, the pallets are put in a special chamber where they are heated until the wood’s center reaches 132.8F or 56 C. The temperature is held for a minimum of thirty minutes, ensuring that all insects and insect larva are killed. When the pallet has cooled, it is stamped with a mark of compliance – ISPM 15.

Heat treatment isn’t the same thing as kilning. Kilning only dries the wood. Heat treatment is intended to kill anything living inside the pallet, though heat treatment yields many of the same benefits as kilning.

Heat treated pallets are less prone to pests. This makes heat treated pallets an excellent investment since you don’t have to worry about spreading quarantine pests, such as the Asian long-horned beetle and other pests, that might be hitching a ride in your wood pallets.

The Asian long-horned beetle probably reached the United States via untreated wooden pallets and packing crates. They’re now found throughout New York City. Formosan termites spread to the United States via untreated shipping crates in the 1940s and now pose a threat to all buildings made from wood.

The only cost-effective control method is to remove infected trees and pallets, chipping and burning them. The best preventative measure for a number of countries has been requiring wood packaging to resist these pests in the first place, either through heat treatment or fumigation.

The Benefits of Heat Treatment over Fumigation

The International Plant Protection Convention or IPPC issued regulation IPSM 15; this rule states that all solid wood packaging must either be fumigated or heat-treated before it can be transported into the IPPC’s member countries. This matters for businesses, since there are more than 180-member countries.

Fumigation involves pesticides like methyl bromide, though the pesticide itself introduces health concerns and, potentially, environmental concerns as well. This makes heat treated pallets for export essential if you are doing business internationally. If your pallets are certified as heat-treated, your products can move freely across IPCC member borders without quarantine delays.

Why Heat-Treated Pallets Are Important for Your Operation

We’ve already described how heat treatment kills pests, but this is far from the only benefit. Heat treated wood is less likely to decompose, extending its life. It is more resistant to rot by fungi. The wood becomes harder and less permeable, so it is less prone to swelling and shrinkage when exposed to high humidity or moisture.

Heat treatment is an environmentally responsible solution. No chemicals are used during the heat treatment process. Methyl bromide, one of the most common fumigant for killing pests, may affect the ozone layer, but there is no such concern with the heat treatment of wood pallets. Your pallets are safe from cross-contamination.

Heat treated pallets are safe to recycle, repurpose, or turn into wood chips. Heat treating pallets make then lighter. The reduction in weight really adds up.


Heat treated pallets should be seen as an investment in your business. They have a number of benefits beyond the ease with which they can pass through international borders. This means you can’t afford to use any other type of pallet.

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