BBQ pits made from clean, used barrels have been the mainstay of backyard cooking for decades. There is only one problem. The don't usually last for more than a couple of seasons. Here is how to make yours last for a decade.
Protect the bottom from burnout.If you own a new BBQ pit made from a used barrel here is how you can make it last longer. The first thing to fail in a barrel type barbecue pit is the bottom. Get some scrap 1/4 inch steel plate and place it along the bottom, with at least a one inch clearance below for water to drain out.
Try fire bricks in the bottom of the pit. If you don't have access to any steel plate, use fire bricks and make a vee shaped platform along the bottom where the briquettes will be placed. This will save the bottom from burning through. Burning is a form of oxidation, just like rust. For the normal kind of rust here is how to protect the pit.
Keep the outside of the pit painted with high heat, engine paint at all times. Scrape off rust, treat with the product Ospho and re-paint. NEVER paint the inside of the pit. You will poison yourself!
Of course you will want to wipe clean, and seal with vegetable oil the inside of the pit and store it in the garage. Think of your barrel BBQ pit as a cast iron skillet. It needs to be cured. It's not a bad idea to wipe the inside with vegetable oil after each use.
Don't leave it outside in the rain. If you have to, close the lid.
If you think of your barrel style barbecue pit as more of a cooking utensil and less of an indestructible object it will last for a decade.
The oldest "living" barrel style barbecue pit is reportedly fifty years old. So forget that thousand dollar grill, you can do just as well and last just as long with an old fashioned pit made from a barrel.