Vortex Burn Barrel Build and Operation

I got a 55 gallon steel drum at North Shore Scrap Metal a couple of days ago for use as a burn barrel.

After doing a little research and with a few DIY modifications I burned the brush in the yard pretty darn efficiently.

Before you attempt any of the you should consult the city website and Fire Station to be sure you pull a permit and are burning on a day the City allows burning.

First drilled holes using a half inch drill bit about 4-6 inches from the bottom of the barrel and about ten inches apart.

Then go up about six inches and over three and make more holes going around the barrel.

Also drill some holes in the bottom so water can escape and the burn barrel won’t rust out as quickly.

Next use a sawzall or jigsaw to cut the Barrel from hole to hole diagonally.

Next stick a hammer pulling end into the slot and pull it so there’s an opening for air to stoke your fire.

Prop your barrel up on bricks, make sure you are far from structures and keep a hose close by, wet down the surrounding area and start a small fire.

6 thoughts on “Vortex Burn Barrel Build and Operation

  1. What’s way, way better than a burn barrel? Take the brush to the FREE composting facility on Cherry street. Spare your neighbors breathing your thick smoke, spare Mother Nature from climate change. Take home FREE rich black compost for your garden.


  2. Very interesting and you hit on so many things most folks may overlook the burn and no burn days based on weather conditions and permits licensing. Out west folks use two pellet stoves and one wood stove inserted in fire place on exemption is that is their source of heat…
    The natural gas heater was not cutting the mustard especially bad when we had a major artic front move in for about a week below zero minus for a few days. The lowest temperature on record, –17 Degree’s F, occurred on (January 7, 1971) I remember this well :-O Dave


  3. for all day burning, usually 10:00 – 4:00 as allowed, How about a brick or block in the drum with a grate on top to allow ash to sift down and better air flow up. Similar to your BBQ grill, this will create a more efficient furnace and swifter burning.


      1. Joey,

        The ash from pellet stoves and wood stove are brought out into the fields folks place and plowed or disc tractor Massey Ferguson M35…I got some serious time on not so comfortable seat-here, lost of turning so back gets sore too, as I did most of this plowing disc work. Had to be careful off our free roaming chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys as they love the bugs, grubs and worms you turn over with soil. Part of that big circle taking and giving back! 🙂 Dave


        Air flow is vital to go! The USFS did have a few controlled burns that skipped a fire break line or even a secondary one. Also, the unexpected wind gusts blew hot embers to another location but always had fire trucks and crews in area to stop this but sometimes mother nature sneaks in :-O

        Remember in all fires it only takes a small spark and right conditions….


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