How to Build an Incinerator

A burst of bright orange flames.
  • 5-10 hours
  • Advanced
  • 100-300
What You'll Need
Safety goggles
55 gallon steel drum
Metal cutter (special cutter/nibbler)
Metal drill and drill bits
Small nails
Two metal rods
Wire loops

A domestic incinerator, or burn barrel, is extremely effective for managing waste. They have an advantage over the conventional method (digging pits in the ground and burning garbage in them) in that they are more controlled, but before building an incinerator for your home, check with the local authorities whether you need a special permit and inform city officials that you will be starting controlled fires in your neighborhood. Also, keep in mind that plastics should not be burnt in domestic incinerators.

Step 1 - Cut the Top

Before starting, make sure you have on safety goggles and gloves. Remove the top of the drum with the help of a special cutter (designed specifically to cut curves) or a nibbler (which is electronic and can be used to cut straight lines and curves). Once the top is removed, set it aside for later. Use your hammer to push in the sharp edges around the rim.

Step 2 - Cut Openings

Next, using the metal cutter, cut out three semi-circles from the top end of the drum. The top end that you are working on will eventually form the base of the incinerator, and these half-moon shaped openings will provide an air inlet for combustion.

Step 3 - Insert the Two Metal Rods

Once you have cut the openings, turn the drum over. Now, take a metal drill and make four holes in the middle portion of the drum. You will be running the metal rods through these holes such that the rods intersect in the center of the drum. Mark the drill holes first by hammering in a small nail. When the holes are done, pass the metal rods through.

Step 4 - Make the Platform

Take the top piece that you cut away earlier and drill holes in it. Make several holes to form a sort of grate, but do not overdo it as this may weaken the platform.

Step 5 - Drill More Holes

In the section just above the metal rods, drill evenly spaced holes all around the drum. These holes will serve as air inlets when your incinerator is in use.

Step 6 - Make the Trap Door

The bottom end of your drum (which is now the top end) is still covered, so use the metal cutter to cut out half of the drum cover. You should be left with a semi-circular piece in your hand and the other still attached to the drum. Use wire loops to attach the piece in your hand to the piece on the drum. Place the loops such that they serve as a hinge, allowing for easy opening and closing. You can also use a wire loop to make a handle for the door.

Step 7 - Finish Up

Now that the trap door is in place, take the platform and place it inside the drum on the metal rods. Your incinerator is now ready to use. Keep in mind that you should always place your incinerator on bricks to prevent causing damage to the ground surface.