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How to Make a Burn Barrel

Learn how to make your own burn barrel with the help of Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Whether you live out in the country or you just have some trash to burn, a burn barrel is a simple solution for cleaning up your home and yard. Before you start making one, check your local ordinances to make sure a burn barrel is allowed in your area. The smoke and smell of burning trash can be a problem for your neighbors, but with the right burn barrel you can minimize smoke and ash.

How to Make a Burn Barrel
A burn barrel is a great way to control and burn trash and debris. With a few items, you can make your own burn barrel.

How to Make a Burn Barrel

1. Use a 55 gallon open end metal drum for the barrel. Use a hammer and metal punch to make 10 – 15 holes on the sides of the bottom of the metal drum. You can also use a drill to make the holes. Drill three or four holes in the bottom of the barrel to drain any rain water.

2. Once your barrel is set up for ventilation, set it on concrete blocks. Keeping the area underneath the barrel clear helps with drainage and airflow.

3. When you use the burn barrel, keep it covered with a burn cover. For the burn cover, use hardware cloth, fencing or a metal grate. It traps burning material inside the barrel and lets the smoke get out. Use a match to light any burnable material. When it’s not in use, cover the barrel up with sheet metal to keep rain water from getting in.

Using Your Burn Barrel

Once you’ve made your barrel, it’s important to know what can and can’t be burned. Any food scraps should be composted, not put in the barrel. Any hazardous waste, such as chemicals or paint, should be properly disposed of. When it comes time to use the barrel, non-recyclable plastic, food wrappers and non-recyclable paper and cardboard can all be burned.

The idea is to burn one bag of trash at a time. If there’s too much trash in the barrel, it won’t completely burn. It’s best to burn one bag of trash at a time and wait to burn a second one. Some burn barrel users have a second barrel with a rain cover where they store trash waiting to be burned.

Burn Barrel Safety Tips

When you’re using your burn barrel, always use common sense and proceed with safety. Don’t burn on windy days, or hot and dry days when there could be a fire ban. It’s crucial you don’t burn any aerosol cans. The cans will explode in the barrel. If your barrel is rusted or has too many ventilation holes, an exploding aerosol can can lead to flaming trash leaving the barrel. Finally, be considerate of your neighbors. The last thing they want is to be outside while you’re burning garbage. Make an arrangement with them for a good to use the barrel.


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