Apr 5th, 2023
Pallet Mold Prevention 101: How to Prevent Mold on Wood Pallets
It’s the time of the season for…mold?!
As winter turns to spring, pallet mold becomes a common concern for those in the warehousing and logistics industry. This pesky fungus can be a menace to your pallets and the products stored on them.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what pallet mold is, its causes, and how to effectively prepare and protect your pallets during the spring.
What is Pallet Mold?
Pallet mold is fungus that grows on wood products and other materials, producing pigmented spores in various colors. These spores can become airborne and can easily spread to different surfaces.
Identifying pallet mold can be challenging, as it is sometimes mistaken for simple wood staining. Therefore, it is crucial to accurately determine whether the spots on your pallets are mold or just stains.
What Causes Mold on Wood Pallets?
Mold can grow on pallets at any stage, from the wood mill to your own manufacturing facility. The key to preventing mold is to reduce the conditions that promote mold growth.
Mold spores need four primary elements to survive and grow:
- Moisture: Spring weather tends to increase moisture exposure to pallets, and mold thrives in moist conditions. Wood with a moisture content above 19% and environments with humidity over 60% are more susceptible to mold contamination. <./li>
- Oxygen: Mold spores need oxygen to grow, which is virtually impossible to control without vacuum-sealing pallets or storing them in an oxygen-free environment.
- Warmer Temperatures: Mold spores multiply faster in warmer temperatures, with the ideal range being between 70° and 85° Fahrenheit. Spring’s arrival means warmer temperatures, increasing the risk of mold growth.
- Food: Mold can consume various materials, including the structural polymers, sugars, and proteins found in wood pallets. Mold can use products stored on pallets as a food source, including food, apparel, pharmaceuticals, and household items.
- Unload pallets from trailers promptly. Trailers tend to be dark, warm, and humid, which encourages mold growth.
- Store pallets indoors in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area whenever possible.
- Keep pallets out of the rain and use tarps to cover them during wet weather. Once the rain has stopped, remove the tarps.
- Elevate pallets off the ground to avoid contact with puddles or runoff.
- Maintain adequate spacing between pallet rows to promote air circulation.
Pallet Mold Prevention Myths
Many believe kiln drying or ISPM-15 heat treatments can prevent mold growth on pallets. However, neither of these treatments is effective in preventing future mold growth.
Myth #1: Kiln Drying
While kiln drying removes moisture from wood, it doesn’t prevent mold from growing if the pallet encounters the perfect combination of moisture and temperature.
The ISPM-15 treatment kills insects in the wood, not mold. Some claim it can actually exacerbate mold growth by drawing moisture and sugars into the wood.
How to Identify Pallet Mold
Differentiating between pallet mold and wood staining can be tricky, but there are some key differences to look out for.
Mold on wood pallets tends to be fuzzy or powdery, and can be various shades of green, black, or white. Staining, on the other hand, typically appears as a discoloration or darkening of the wood and does not have a fuzzy or powdery texture.
Unlike wood discoloration, mold will have a damp odor that can be described as earthy, musty, or even stale.
Reaction to Bleach
One way to test for mold is to apply a small amount of bleach to the suspected area. If the discoloration disappears or fades significantly, it is likely mold. However, please note that bleach should not be used as a mold treatment, as it can harm the wood and may not completely eliminate the mold.
If you are still unsure whether you are dealing with mold or staining on your wooden pallets, give Trinity a call. Our pallet experts can help you properly diagnose the issue and recommend the best course of action for treating or replacing your pallets.
Prepare Your Pallets for Spring Mold Season
Limiting the conditions that promote mold growth is the best way to keep your pallets mold-free. While the most crucial step is to keep your pallets dry, these best practices will help to minimize pallet mold:
If you still encounter mold on your pallets, there are remediation methods to salvage them. Spring may bring the risk of mold, but with proper preparation and care, you can protect your pallets and products.
Meet the Nation’s Most Trusted Pallet Supplier
With over 350 pallet networks in our network, Trinity is the leading pallet supplier for Fortune 500 companies across North America. Our proprietary algorithm finds the best new, used, and recycled wood pallets near you with next-day delivery nearly anywhere in the country.
In addition to providing new, recycled, and custom pallets, our National Pallet Buyback Program helps companies generate additional revenue by selling back their broken pallets. Our team makes it easy, handling core evaluation, pickup, and payment, so you don’t have to lift a finger. Plus, it’s sustainable!
Want to learn more about Trinity’s National Packaging Program? Give us a call at (856) 499-5648 or send us a message to talk to our pallet specialists today.