How to Make an Incinerator

These old barrels make great incinerators.
These old barrels make great incinerators. (Image: Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

When it comes time to get rid of your yard waste or other debris, burning it often seems the best way to go. However, burning waste in an open fire can be very dangerous if winds carry sparks or other burning material away and start larger fires. Making and operating an incinerator is a responsible and safe way to burn waste without the high risk of open fires. With a few commonly found materials you can make your own incinerator that will last for years.

Things You'll Need

  • Old oil drum (metal)
  • Metal grill mesh
  • Drill
  • Jigsaw (with metal cutting blade)
  • Nuts and bolts

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Remove the top and bottom of your old metal oil barrel. These can either be removed by loosening a clamp or they can be cut off using a jig saw. Ensure the inside is clean and free of any oil residue.

Cut four 3-inch diameter squares 2 inches above the bottom edge of the barrel. This can be done by first drilling a pilot hole then inserting the jigsaw blade and cutting them out.

Cut out four squares of wire mesh to cover the holes you cut out from Step 2. Attach these screens to the square holes by drilling holes around the squares cut from the barrel and then placing the mesh over the holes from the inside, and mount them in place using some nuts and bolts. These screens will prevent large burning pieces from falling out of the barrels, allowing air to flow through the barrel, fueling the fire.

Place the oil drum, square holes closest to the ground, on a gravel or dirt surface, 10 feet in all directions from any grass or foliage.

Deposit the material you wish to incinerate and ignite using some lighter fluid or other fuel.

Place the wire mesh sheet over the top of the barrel directly after lighting the fire. This will prevent burning material from exiting the drum and potentially causing other fires.

Extinguish the fire by pouring water into the barrel when finished or not able to attend the fire.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never leave a fire burning unattended.
  • Always wear appropriate safety equipment (especially eye protection) when using power tools.
  • Check with local authorities regarding the legal status of home incineration.


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