Kiln drying pallets

We are seeing more and more pallet companies drying pallets to prevent mold and mildew.  However, a recent study completed by Abbott Laboratories confirmed drying the pallets is a good first step to help prevent mold and mildew.  They also discovered what we in the industry already knew, which is handling and storage until in use is equally important.

General reasons why companies require kiln dried pallets:
- Prevent mold
- Prevent mildew
- Prevent moisture evaporation into storage (example is sugar storage)
- Make the pallet lighter

How dry should a pallet be?
The key phrase we see in the field is: "Whatever makes it Good enough" or "Only just dry enough to satisfy the customer"
The fact is that most of the pallet customers really do not care about dryness, but many care more about not having moldy pallets. It also means that your customer is not interested in paying to "over dry" the pallets.

How long time will it take to dry pallets?
In most situations we see our customers using drying cycles between 12-24 hours with a few taking longer.
Actual drying time will depend on these factors:
Weight of pallet - Heavier pallets will take longer to dry
Thicker components - Thicker components will increase drying time.
Start and final moisture content - More drying = longer cycle time.

How much does it cost to dry a pallet?
This will depend on the factors below:                                                                                                                                                                           Weight of pallet - Heavier pallets will cost more to dry.
Thicker components - Thicker components will cost more to dry.
Start and final moisture content - More drying = higher cost.
Price of heat energy - LP gas is more expensive than Natural gas.
Heat recovery on venting - This can lower the gas consumption = lower heating costs.
See table below for an estimated costs.

All Kiln-direct pallet kilns are designed to dry pallets efficiently but there is more to drying pallets efficiently and economically than meets the eye. In most cases it more about what is "good enough" than perfect drying to a certain moisture content. Below we have compiled an estimated / theoretical energy consumption and cost to dry 1 GMA pallet.


Energy type cost comparison based on a usual 24 hour cycle.
Approximate weight of GMA pallet green: 45 lbs
Approximate weight of GMA pallet dried to 19%: 32 lbs
Total weight loss during drying to 19% MC: 13 lbs
Total energy needed dry 1 pallet: 32500 btu (2500 btu per lbs of water evaporated)
LPgas: 32500 btu = 1/3 gallon of LPgas @ $2.00 == US$: 0.67 per pallet
Natural gas: 32500 btu = 1/3 therm of Natural gas @ $0.70 == US$: 0.23 per pallet
Electric heat: 32500 btu = 9.50 KW electricity @ $0.11 == US$: 1.04 per pallet

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