How to Make an Oil Drum Heater

Updated April 17, 2017

An oil drum heater is a kind of waste oil heater. Waste oil heaters use leftover waste oil and convert it into heat. Waste oil can be anything from the oil leftover from a car's oil change to used cooking oil from a fast food restaurant. Waste oil itself is not biodegradable; left by itself it does damage to the environment. Making a waste oil heater out of an oil drum is a great way to make use of this otherwise environmentally harmful substance.

Tilt your oil drum on its side and draw a chalk outline of a square on the end that is now facing upward. Cut along this line with your saw to create your door. This door will allow easy access to the inside of the drum. File along the edges of each cut as to avoid jagged edges.

Tilt your oil drum back up and draw two circles on the top. Cut along these circles to create your stack holes. One of these will be used to install the chimney stack.

Place the support flange from your burner assembly inside of the oil drum, then place the rest of the assembly on top of it. Simply stack the pieces on top of each other and they will fit together.

Push the chimney stack 6 inches into one of the stack holes. Use your drill gun to create four holes in the chimney stack 1 inch above where it connects with the hole, then create four more holes on the drum itself just below the holes on the chimney stack.

Bend the metal tabs so they can cover both the holes on the chimney stack as well as the oil drum, then screw them in place to hold the chimney stack. Screw them in tight. Otherwise the chimney stack will move. The chimney stack will serve as your exhaust and expel fumes from the heater.

Take your metal funnel and fit it over the bottom end of your intake stack. Place the intake stack with the funnel attached inside of oil and push it up through the other stack hole you created until it wedges tightly and won't move any further.

Wrap your copper tubing around the chimney stack with its end directly above the intake stack.

Fill the bottom of the oil drum around the burner assembly with sand. This will keep fire from moving in any direction you don't want it to.

Take the piece of metal that you cut out of the oil drum in the beginning and cut a small hold in the bottom of it. This will serve as your access. Use your drill gun and screws to connect that piece of metal back on to the oil drum.

Create a platform out of the bricks that can support your oil drum heater near a window. Place your oil drum heater on that the platform and make sure your chimney stack goes outside through the window. This will keep you from experiencing any fumes inside the house.

Poor your waste oil into the burner assembly through the hole in the door ignite it. It will then heat your area.

Things You'll Need

  • Oil Drum
  • Handsaw
  • Metal File
  • Chalk Bricks
  • Burner Assembly
  • Chimney Stack
  • Drill Gun
  • 4 Metal Tabs
  • Screws
  • Metal Funnel
  • Copper Tubing
  • Intake Stack
  • Clamp
  • Sand
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About the Author

Devin Backman started writing professionally in 2004, with his work appearing in "The Alpenhorn News." He attended San Bernardino Valley College, majoring in journalism.