Combating mold on wood pallets is a challenge because w […]
Combating mold on wood pallets is a challenge because wood is porous. Even thoroughly drying the surface of the pallet won’t necessarily prevent the growth of mold when moisture has seeped deep into the wood. In most cases, it’s also not possible to completely avoid getting pallets wet. In the supply chain, moisture can collect on pallets through many means, from a humid loading dock or warehouse to an accidental spill. The simple act of moving a pallet from an air-conditioned environment to a much warmer one is enough to cause condensation to form on a platform’s surface. While it’s not possible to keep pallets dry all the time, there are ways for supply chain managers to proactively combat the formation of mold.
Many pallets are made using green or wet wood, which contains natural moisture that can promote mold growth on the pallet even if it isn’t exposed to damp conditions. Kiln-drying is part of the wood curing process; it removes most of the natural moisture from the wood and also limits its absorbency. However, pallets that get wet after the kiln-drying process may still become moldy.Industrial drum-type fans are useful for improving airflow around pallets. Fans can be placed in areas where pallets are sorted and stacked prior to going into longer-term storage. Improving air movement around the pallets gives moisture less time to settle into the wood. It also discourages mold from taking hold, since constant air movement makes mold spores less likely to settle on pallets and grow.
Cleaning wood pallets ensures that most mold spores are removed from the surface before they have a chance to grow and spread. Pressure washing is the simplest way to eliminate spores that have landed on the wood.Following pressure washing, it’s crucial that wood pallets be allowed to dry completely before being placed into storage. It’s also important to store pallets in areas with good airflow and low humidity, avoid storing wood pallets in trailers, where the air is often warm, humid, and stagnant.
Even with all these efforts in place, it can be difficult to eliminate mold on pallets due to the natural absorbency of wood. In some cases, such as in humid locations or in the cold chain, the best way to prevent mold is to switch to a non-absorbent pallet material like plastic.