How to Build a Maple Syrup Evaporator From a 55 Gallon Drum

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Giant drums can serve as heating pans for homemade syrup evaporators.
Giant drums can serve as heating pans for homemade syrup evaporators. (Image: Vermont Maple Sugaring Buckets image by Rob Hill from Fotolia.com)

Homemade maple syrup will sweeten pancakes, french toast and other tasty foods. In theory, anyone with maple trees on his property can make homemade maple syrup, but the process is more complicated than simply collecting sap from the trees. Tree sap contains a lot of water, and this water must evaporate before the sap has the correct consistency for sugar. A homemade evaporator needs a large metal container for boiling the sap, and huge metal drums, generally used to transport water and other liquids, make ideal evaporator tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Soap
  • Towels
  • Shovel
  • Stones
  • Wood
  • Matches or lighter
  • Butter or margarine
  • Sap
  • Jars

Clean your 55-gallon drum with hot water and mild dish detergent. Rinse thoroughly to remove residual soap. Dry the interior of the drum to remove excess water.

Set up a woodburning fireplace outside. If you have an outdoor stove or existing fireplace, you can use this. If not, dig a hole about 2 feet deep and wide enough to support the bottom of your 55-gallon drum above the hole.

Line your fireplace walls with stones or bricks, extending a few inches above the hole. These bricks will prevent the fire from spreading and will also support the drum over the flames so it can achieve the appropriate temperature.

Build a fire with dry, fast-burning wood in the hole. Once the fire is burning strong, place the drum on the support bricks.

Rub a thin layer of butter or margarine around the rim of the drum to prevent the syrup from boiling over.

Pour your collected sap into the drum. Do not fill the drum completely, or the sap can boil over.

Boil the sap until it reaches the consistency of syrup, and then store it in sealable jars for use.

Tips & Warnings

  • It takes 10 gallons of sap to make a quart of maple syrup. You will need to do a lot of boiling to get a significant amount of syrup.
  • Never use a drum that has held chemicals or non-edible items. Find a drum that transported food and drink only. Toxic chemicals can contaminate the syrup.

References

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