Most country homeowners choose the burning solution to solve their waste disposal problems. It is convenient, fast, and easy, once it is properly installed. The best and safest way for using incineration as a solution is a burn barrel that makes the whole process easy and efficient. Burn barrels are made from used or new 55 gallon drums modified to burn household trash. Most country homeowners construct their own barrel customizing it to fit their individual needs.
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Burn Barrel Design and Customization
The process of designing a burn barrel begins with a drum that can be purchased at a variety of places. It should be made of steel and cleaned of any contaminants, such as chemicals or cleaners from prior use. Hardware stores, car washes, insulation companies, or landfills are good places to get one for free. If there is a concern regarding what was stored in used drums, new or recycled ones can be purchased in several places.
Once you have a barrel or drum, it is important to put holes in it to allow air to flow freely into the barrel during burning. This will supply sufficient ventilation for the igniting of the waste material and to keep it burning. Without it, the weight of the trash would continually suffocate the flames, requiring multiple restarts. Twenty or more holes at varying heights all around the drum will provide proper air flow.
The next step is to create a cover for the drum when it is in use. It should fit loosely and have holes drilled in it as well. This will prevent burning trash from floating out of the barrel during incineration. The cover should be bent so that smoke and air can escape to avoid the buildup of heat and pressure. An additional cover, made from steel siding or roofing, will be needed to place on the barrel when it is not in use. It should be tightly secured with ties or cables to keep it in place during inclement or windy weather.
Creating a Place for the Burn Barrel
It is important that the barrel be placed on a stable platform made from cinder blocks or bricks. When placed on the platform, the barrel should be raised six to twelve inches off the ground (allowing air flow underneath) but be secure enough to avoid tipping or teetering. Most 55 gallon drums are heavy enough to set solidly on any surface but can tip in unstable conditions. Multiple tests from various angles would be a wise precaution to ensure a firm foundation.
Separating the Trash to Be Burned or Composted
To ensure a safe and careful burning of waste, it is important to classify and categorize what is to be burned. This process begins in the kitchen. Food scraps should be placed in a compost pile, which is another possible use of a 55 gallon drum. Hazardous materials, such as cleaners, paints, and other chemicals must be taken to the local hazardous waste disposal location. All other combustible materials should be placed in a bag for the burn barrel.
Burn Barrel Safety Considerations
On the surface, the idea seems to be the most logical and cost effective. The owner avoids the hassle of loading a truck or digging a hole that could contaminate the water table. On closer examination, it is a bit more complicated than it sounds.
When deciding to burn trash, the first inclination may be to pile it in a heap at the back of the property and set it on fire. Using some form of an accelerant, the trash would immediately be set ablaze. This would be a most unwise decision. A fire in the open can be unsafe and get out of control very rapidly. Unless the person setting it is highly experienced in managing something of this nature, things will get very nasty quickly.
When burning waste, it is important to place one bag at a time in the container. This will help avoid too much smoke and irritating odors. The proper disposal of trash in a burn barrel takes time and patience with careful attention to safety. When done properly, it is the perfect solution for people living in isolated areas.