How Wooden Pallets Could Be Damaging Your Cargo

How Wooden Pallets Could Be Damaging Your Cargo

Container rain is an inevitable problem for every shipping journey, due to humidity in the air and temperature changes causing moisture levels inside containers. Container rain can cause irreversible damage, fungi and mould to products and packaging during journeys – and as a result the shipping industry takes steps to protect against it, with liners, particular packing techniques, and anti-moisture desiccants like BirchSorb. But not all containers are created equal – and some can pose a greater risk of container rain than others.

Wooden Pallets and Container Rain Wooden pallets pose an additional moisture risk, due to the nature of wood itself. Wood is “hygroscopic” – which means that it absorbs moisture from the air. This also means that when air humidity lowers, wooden pallets release any moisture previously absorbed.

Just as wood poses a greater risk of moisture than some other materials, the type of wood also makes a difference. New – also known as green – wood pallets can have a moisture content ranging between 50-100%, containing over ten pounds of water. Kiln dried wood pallets, however, come with less than half the moisture content (approximately 19%). Kiln dried wood pallets would seem to be the superior option – but due to recent lumbar shortages, they are not always available. According to the European Federation of Wooden Pallet and Packaging Manufacturers, there are over three billion wooden pallets in circulation within the European Union alone.


There are benefits to using wood over alternative materials – it is the only 100% renewable, recyclable and reusable option available, with the most common alternatives being made from oil and gas.

However, the pandemic has caused a surprise boom in the lumber industry, with sawmill owners reporting record profits in 2021 and lumber rising to a record four times its usual price. While there is no shortage of trees, sawmill owners report struggling to meet demand – and as a result, pallet manufacturers have increasingly turned to green wood as the answer.

However, while green wood pallets do pose a greater moisture risk, it’s a risk that can be controlled and eliminated with the help of hyperdesiccants like BirchSorb, our pioneering calcium oxide anti-moisture solution. Designed to last up to 12 weeks while absorbing three times its own weight in moisture, BirchSorb is designed specifically for shipping journeys – and it works in tandem with other anti-moisture tactics, including liners. BirchSorb is available worldwide now via our global supplier network.


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As part of a group with a 200-year reputation for service and innovation, Birch Chemicals was created to provide specialty chemicals to the Rubber, Plastics, Coatings and Adhesives markets.

Based in the UK, with a network that spans 33 countries, Birch Chemicals operates globally.

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