Burn Barrels

Here in Haiti, all of our trash gets burned.
In some areas, there are trash services, but, since I’ve never seen a true landfill, I’m pretty certain that even those services just dump it somewhere and it probably ends up in the river/ocean. So, I wanted to improve our burning situations.

The typical method is just to make a pile on the ground, or maybe dig a pit, and burn all the trash there.
Unfortunately, a lot of the trash doesn’t burn completely, probably because a lot of the trash is just hard to burn (like diapers).

Our first response was to put in a metal drum to burn all of our trash in, but even that took some work to discover the best methods. After a bit of testing, here’s my suggestions:

-Buy a metal drum
-Cut out the bottom.
-Prop it up on a couple blocks (like this)
-I would add a metal grille, or even just a couple pieces of rebar between the blocks and the bottom of the barrel to hold the trash up off the ground and allow better airflow.
-Make sure to put a layer of easy to burn stuff on the bottom when you fill the barrel, then, as you fill it, try to mix your trash between easy and hard to burn stuff so that you don’t get a bit pile of hard to burn stuff together (like a big bag of soiled diapers)

-Once the ash pile cools, you can empty it out into a bucket and even mix it back into your next burn pile to try again to get it to burn.
***Be careful when you throw away bug spray, spray paint, or anything else in pressurized canisters. They will explode. It won’t hurt the barrel, but you want to be 100 ft or more away before it blows up for your safety.

Now, that was a good start, but I still wasn’t happy.
So we looked at this one: Barrel Incinerator

We built ours with a drum from washing machine, and the blower fan from a dryer, simply because we had just disassembled a non-functional washer/dryer unit. Then, we cut a hole for the chimney and used a couple screws through the drum to hold it in place on the barrel.

Honestly, I love seeing the big flames coming out the top, and it is more efficient, but it was only “easy” because I have a metalworking shop and happened to have the fan sitting around already. It also means I have to provide power for it to keep running.

All in all, I would recommend the basic burn barrel, as it does a pretty good job as long as you load it reasonably. If you are having troubles keeping it burning through things well, just keep an eye out for wood scraps, used motor oil, or other easily flammable things to add to the mix, or try to make sure that any brush you put into it is dried well before you start the fire.