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How to make an incinerator

Updated April 17, 2017

When it comes to getting rid of your garden waste or other debris, burning it often seems the best option. However, burning waste in an open fire can be very dangerous if the wind carries sparks or other burning material away and starts 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.

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  1. Remove the top and bottom of your old metal oil barrel. These can be removed by either loosening a clamp or through cutting with a jigsaw. Ensure the inside is clean and free of any oil residue.

  2. Cut four 7.5 cm (3 inch) diameter squares 5 cm (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.

  3. Cut out four squares of wire mesh to cover the holes you cut out earlier. 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, fuelling the fire.

  4. Place the oil drum, square holes closest to the ground, on a gravel or dirt surface, 3 metres (10 feet) in all directions from any grass or foliage.

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

  6. 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.

  7. Extinguish the fire by pouring water into the barrel when finished or if you're not able to watch the fire.

  8. Warning

    Never leave a fire burning unattended.

    Always wear appropriate safety equipment -- especially eye protection -- when using power tools.

    Check with the local council regarding the legal status of home incineration.

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Things You'll Need

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

About the Author

Brandy Alexander began writing professionally in 1993. She has years of experience as a professional of the English language employed with the "Cape Times" and "The Mercury." Alexander holds a master's degree in English literature from Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

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