Stainless Steel Garden Incinerator - Patio Heater from recycled scrap.

Picture of Stainless Steel Garden Incinerator - Patio Heater from recycled scrap.

Project:  To build a replacement for the ugly rusted and burned out oil drum we have been using for a incinerator.

Lets face it when it come to recycling we all end up with bio mass that unless you live beside your recycling plant just become a nightmare to get rid off, my nearest center is 5 miles away in a different council district, the one I should be using is almost 12 miles away so anything that I can safely burn gets burnt.

I wanted to make something that would do for burning paper cardboard and garden waste. but would be nice enough to be used a heater.

We have been using an old 45 gallon steel drum as a make  shift incinerator which is almost burned out and rusted to bits. its good point was it had a large capacity for burning, but this was also its bad point was that the large capacity meant you just bunged big stuff in and it tended to go out as it was badly loaded or be very smoky.

I had an old washing machine rusting away in the yard that was due to go for scrap, they have stainless steel drum that well ventilated and look nice and make a perfect incinerator as stainless steel will not burn up like a steel barrel will do over time.

The washing machine drum has a smaller but reasonably good capacity, this will mean it must be loaded better and should hopefully burn much better.

This is a simple and easy project to build if you can scavenge the parts.

UPDATE: Some people have asked what type of washing machine has the stainless steel drum, they are found in the front loading automatic machines. I have added a pic to step 1 of the next victim to be gutted from parts. I will do a detailed instructable of what fab and groovy stuff is to be found in them. 

If you cant find a washing machine a tumble dryer should also have a stainless steel drum that will do, it will probably have a larger capacity also.

Materials used.

Stainless steel washing machine drum.
1" galvanized tube (scavenged from an old farm gate)  20 x 6mm flat steel could also be used.
The rim from an old bike wheel.
M6 nuts, bolts and washers.
Self taping screws.

Thanks for looking and i hope that this gives you some ideas for your own design.


PS. I didn't plan this out, it was a case just wandering around the yard and sheds and using what ever turned up.  So it just kind of happened, sometimes that kind of approach works just as well as the long drawn out plan.

Saw this pop up in one of my RSS feeds the other day and remembered I just happened to have an old washing machine lying around and decided this was the perfect project for me and my boyfriend. After several hours of getting the damn inner drum out we could all finally sit back and marvel at our shiney new fire bowl. We made the base out of what was actually attached to the outter drum - just flipped it over and voila..perfect! Not only that, it's spins around too - pointless but cool!
Dr Qui (author)  BlackSheepBrit5 years ago
Post a pic of it.
Hopefully it's added a pic this time!
Dr Qui (author)  BlackSheepBrit5 years ago
Nice Idea, your pulley is the perfect size to make a base.

I wonder how the aluminium bits and the bearings will cope with the fire?

Keep up the good work.

Aluminum melts at about 2000 Degree F...

if the fire inside gets that hot, that Aluminum is going to be the least of your worries....

But, when the Aluminum breaks down, and it will eventually, I do not see a problem replacing the hardware with a heavier steel.

I'll let you know when we finally get a chance to try it out. Very excited though, awesome idea...keep em coming!
That is so cool!! lol. And it came with its own base!!! You lucked out!
rimar20005 years ago
With that washing machine drum you can make a MCG (Macro Chease Grater)!!
Dr Qui (author)  rimar20005 years ago

Old washing machines are great, there are so many cool and useful things that can be made from one. there are so many high quality parts used in their construction.

The toughened glass window makes a beautiful glass fruit/punch bowl,  we had one full of fruit on our table and got complimented on the lovely fruit bowl and where can I get one? we had to laugh when we said you get them at the skip site.
bilham Dr Qui5 years ago
I inherited an old 50's era washer with my last house. I salvaged the bakelite agitator and made a very cool lamp out of it.
Agitator Lamp.JPG
Dr Qui (author)  bilham5 years ago

That is so beautiful, our old machine had one of those but it was very plain, that one is just so stylish the lamp shade really sets it off.

Well done.

Dr. dB Dr Qui5 years ago
Yep! Although the newer designs are probably more efficient and/or effective, the old styles were often MUCH more elegant and decorative. The one I tore out of Mom's washer back in the early '70s (also a 1950's washer!) was about the same shape, but white ( well, off-white after several decades of dirty duty up against four kids and any number of pets...) I think the black one makes the more fashionable lamp, although white-ish might scatter (agitate?) the light better...
deni2me bilham5 years ago
I think this looks way cool! Great idea!
There are some of these that are horn shaped, I did a very good passive megaphone with one of them. It was so good that was stolen at the first use...!
However, where do we find a capacity conversion chart from "pounds of laundry" into "pounds of cheese"?
PerenialPaul6 months ago

I love this, I'm guessing with it being stainless steel it'll stay nice and shiny unlike some other incinerators you can buy.

Modern washing machine inner drums have a steel drum with stainless coating and will rust after a few fires . A easy way to test is to use a magnet to test . If the magnet sticks to the drum then it is steel with a coating :)
bobdog roryos12 months ago

Actually that isn't reliable, martensitic and ferritic stainless steels are magnetic. Better to just scavenge several drums and replace the rusty ones :P

emmaw28 months ago

Make an outdoor living area comfy long after the sun sets or the leaves turn with outdoor furniture and a patio heater. In my opinion Heatstrip Radiant Heaters are known as one of the most incredible heating solutions for home.

SIRJAMES091 year ago

Old washing machine, or old dryer, = rock tumbler on steroids! :D

SIRJAMES091 year ago

As I too am big on safety, I was thinking( for a backyard/patio type heater) that maybe a cement block/cinder block base might be good...

As for deconstruction of the old washer/dryer, a sawz all works wonders! :)

And if you needed something to block the wind, the cabinet the drum was in would work great!

TY For sharing!

Cya! I'm going dumpster diving!! :)

mpoole41 year ago
Workstead3 years ago
If the spokes were left on the rim could you put a weight on the spokes to lower the center of gravity and reduce the chance of tipping?
Dr Qui (author)  Workstead3 years ago
You could do, but if you read step 3 you will see that the hub was already robbed from the wheel.
I made one of these many years ago specifically to be used as a small fire for people to sit around. (Some people call them fire-pits but as it isn't a pit or even a brazier I've never really been sure what to call it). Anyway, unfortunately it was a total failure for that purpose, it feeds too well. As an Incinerator it is incredibly effective. The holes almost seemed to be coincidentally or accidentally arranged in such a way as to provide maximum Oxygen supply. I'm pretty certain that if mine had been made with a lesser grade of steel it would have melted. One night I burned thirty or more three inch by fourteen inch logs in about five hours. Great incinerator though.
There are probably different brands or models that have a more suitable air-flow for my purpose that I haven't found yet but the one in this Instructable looks very much like the one I made. If the OP ever reads these comments I'd be interested to know how he/she feels theirs worked in that regard.
I made a small plant pond out of a Tumble-Dryer barrel that is still in my backyard, still holding water, twelve years on.
Dr Qui (author)  Unindoctrinated3 years ago
Hey agaian. I just noticed you said you made a "Plant Pond" I genuinely have to say whats that and can you post a picture of of a 12 year old mature plant pond as I would like to see that.
I took the barrel from a tumble dryer which only had holes in the centre of the back so I took the bulbous window from the door and siliconed it to the inside to cover the holes, buried it in my garden, filled it with water and put three plant pots in it with marsh type plants. They have thrived and as it is mostly in the shade it rarely needs topping up.
Sorry, unfortunately It is so densely surrounded by plants a photo would be pointless.
Dr Qui (author)  Unindoctrinated3 years ago
Ah i get the idea now.

We use the glass window from the washer as a fruit bowl, we even have had a couple of compliments of "oh what a lovely glass bowl where did you get that", that when you start laughing and say what it is.
Dr Qui (author)  Unindoctrinated3 years ago
They work well if you allow a good bed of ash to accumulate and this will cut of the air and slow the burn down, also hot ash will hold heat. rake the ash out to the sides so the holes are blocked and build a fire in the hollow.

larger pieces of wood will give you a slower burn once you get a good hot bed of ash going, add small pieces to keep the fire going.

The one I made works well as an incinerator until a bed of ash starts to build and then it does not draw as well

The general rule is if you want to incinerate keep it clean and if you want a heater be lazy and let the ash build up.

I find the my wood stove runs very hungry until a good bed of ash has built up, the only ash that gets removed is anything that has fallen into the air intake. i find it uses much less fuel once a few days worth of ash have accumulated.
OCMichael3 years ago
I am fascinated by the idea; it occurs to me that the opening in the top would be able to accommodate a nice, heavy-guage Stainless Steel Salad Bowl, perhaps with some brackets to suspend it to allow smoke from the firebox to escape. Place some well-soaked aromatic wood in the salad bowl and set up some ducting and you would be well on your way to creating a nice, high-capacity Barbeque Smoker. Any culinary "Mac Gyver' types out there interested in giving it a try? If you do, please let me know how it works out! <GRIN>
Dr Qui (author)  OCMichael3 years ago
I don't think it would work all that good probably way to many air holes to make a controlled burn of your wood shavings you are trying to almost starve the burn of almost all the oxygen so you get the most smoke with no heat.

I did see the answer to you question on a UK TV show only a few days ago. it was Channel 4 and the show was River cottage diaries i think, they used an old an old vintage look all metal cased upright fridge freezer (It looked like a 50's American style with the all the non metal bits gutted out of it out of it and a few air holes drilled in they where using it to test smoke a range of cheeses. it was perfect as it had ready made wire racks in and they where on mental rails for the height adjustment.

there have been many easy build home made smokers featured on river cottage over the years so it worth a Google.

Have fun with your experiments

kkeely3 years ago
I used mine last weekend and it held up fine. The only issue is that 90% of the heat went straight up. Any ideas on how to "deflect" the heat outward? Or make it radiate more heat?
Dr Qui (author)  kkeely3 years ago
Well I have an old enameled lit form an old style Washing machine that fits over the top of the drum, i use it if I'm burning stuff that may blow out of the drum.

To radiate heat be lazy and let the ash build up and it will slow the burn down and hold the heat longer, or get a line the inside with a strip of sheet metal to block of some of the holes.

hope this helps.
Great repurpose project. Featured it on my blog today (blog focuses on repurposed and recycled projects). Have a look if you get a chance. Would love to know what else you have.
Love the project! Included it in a post on my blog today for repurposed washing machine drums. Have a look - my blog focuses on repurposed and recycled projects, so I'd love to know what else you have.

tyep4 years ago
Here is mine. I showed up at the dump, and someone had already dismantled a dryer and left the drum laying there, so I scooped it up, grabbed a refrigerator rack for the top, bolted on some tent poles for legs and it's working fine.
Dr Qui (author)  tyep4 years ago
Nice one.
My Dad used to repair industrial washing machines and dryers and for ages we had a giant drum at the bottom of our garden, it has made a fantastic incinerator over the past few years, I just put it on some bricks, if the wood is dry it burns super hot and you don't get any smoke at all really.
asteadman4 years ago
Love it!

Local repair shop gave me a dryer that was too far gone for them to deal with.

Tore it apart today and got myself a new fire pit in about an hour.

The drum housing was weighted with some monster sized lead weights. Made for a great temp base to hold the pulley assembly (now "stand") until I decide wear it's permanent home will be.

Thanks for a great project!
lovejasmin4 years ago
"Fingers and eyes don't grow back", ahhh, should be a slogan on the next OSHA workplace safety posters. *tips hat*
Dr Qui (author)  lovejasmin4 years ago


The metal work teacher I had in 1st year at high school had a black and white photo of the remains of what had been some poor soul got careless on a large industrial lathe in some factory, it was on the wall of the workshop and was the first thing you where shown at the start of first year. 

It was a hash way of showing us what would happen if we pissed about in a metal workshop, and somehow it did have the desired effect on us.

I doubt if shop teacher would be allowed to show kids such a graphic image incase they might damage their fragile minds.

As far as green goes this is way worse than recycling. But I'm not against burning but you live 5 miles from a recycling center, good god, that is your next door neighbor. And last time I checked, pretty sure they stop by your house to pick it up for you. Anyways, all criticism aside, I like your Instructable, especially the spontaneity of it. Good job
Dr Qui (author)  sneaky snake5 years ago
Yay, another long term member with no posts picking non existent holes in my ideas.

Sir, I disagree.

I live on a small farm, the council don't come and take away my organic waste. As i said in the post anything I can safely burn ie anything that is NOT plastic and will not pollute.

5 miles away means a 10 mile round trip and for garden waste could mean numerous trips. With fuel prices now 25% higher than they where 12 months ago well you can do the maths.

If I leave this waste to rot and turn to compost it releases methane gas which we now know to be a much worse greenhouse gas than carbon.  Any garden waste I take to the recycle center goes to be composted and therefore is actually worse than me burning it.

Burning organic biomass is also carbon neutral releasing only what the plant already took out of the atmosphere. and the resulting ash can be sprinkled straight onto my garden as a good organic fertilizer.

Kermit the frog was right when he said Its not easy being green. the secret is about finding a balance.

Burning fossil fuel to take biomass to be composted where it releases methane is actually environmentally unsound.

As an over all green project I have canceled out the fossil fuels that would be used to remelt the steel I reused. The stainless steel drum will not burn out in my lifetime and will cancel out the need for many expensive galvanized incinerators that last on average about 2-3 years if you are lucky.

You should look at every side of the green/recycling story before making judgment on anyone else.

nabo00o Dr Qui4 years ago
I agree with everything you say here, one has to think practically about the total benefits the present disposal methods gives. And using gasoline to reduce emissions is not logical, except of course there is a limit were you can gain if its close enough....

But, about methane, although more powerful than CO2, will not stay in the atmosphere nearly as long. And in colder regions (like here) methane isn't as intensively produced as say close to the equator (I see you mentioned that).
If one has the space and could use it, organic waste makes for perfect fertilizers and benefits the soil it is mixed in. I guess it all depends on the needs and whatnot.

So, 'ideally', I would have separated the stuff that's too wet and the stuff that's dry enough to burn, but it all depends.
Conclusion: Self sufficiency is great and green!
amugno Dr Qui5 years ago
Are you on crack????
Dr. dB Dr Qui5 years ago
If your local “official” recyclers are composting and allowing the methane to escape, you're quite right - and they are worse than fools. Any PROPERLY designed facility will capture, compress and use that handy by-product to fuel some of their on-site heating and other small flammable-gas-consuming systems. Of course, at home, on a small scale, it would be challenging to achieve, if possible at all… Anybody done an Instructible on that?
Dr Qui (author)  Dr. dB5 years ago
I have though of building a methane digester at times but the climate here is just to cold for most of the year to be efficient enough to be worth the effort. The closer you are to the equator the better methane digesters work.
Dr. dB Dr Qui5 years ago
Too true! I live in the northern, midwestern USA and, although this time of year it's oppressively hot, there are still several winter months during which it surprises me that septic systems can actually still function when the whole world seems like one huge ice-cube, right down to the magma...
wfp2a Dr Qui5 years ago
I appreciate your analysis of the situation but I have a question (I am not trying to be smart...maybe just trying to get a bit smarter). You mentioned that the burning process is carbon neutral because burning paper only releases what the plants had already extracted from the air...I don't want to nitpick but what about glues and whatnots that go into the paper when it is made? Honestly, I know nothing of the paper making process but I figure there has to be something else in there but plant fibers. Typical paper is not purely organic I suppose. Just curious on your thoughts...
Dr Qui (author)  wfp2a5 years ago
Yeah you are right , paper is not totally organic but it is something that you can hamlessly recycle your self often in a more green way to suit your green lifestyle. Paper pulp for fuel brick, even papercrete but I'm not sure if my climate is suitable for to use papercrete.  I discovered from my researching that recycled paper actually recuires in some cases mor chemicals to re bleach the pulp and that they can onlyuse a small % of the recycled pulp to make a inferior grade paper.  Some times when your do the research you find that there is a dark underbelly to the recycling world that they don't want you to know about.

The old engineers often said that there is no such thing as a stupid question, the stupid question is the one you didn't ask. I agree with this as the only way to truly learn is to as why and how, this often leads you to the answer of yes I can.

I don't all the answers either, no one does :) I just research as best I can how best to reuse or recycle the disposable consumer goods I am forced to use.

The incinerator was only tested using paper so I could take a picture for the instructable.

It will be used to get rid of bio mass from around the garden, stuff that has to be burned to kill the seed heads or stop the spread of disease. All this stuff will be carbon neutral.

Any paper I do have is pulped to make sawdust fuel bricks (see my other Instructable)

At the end of the day its impossible to be totally green, in the ideal world it would be great to recycle everything and burn nothing, but in the real world it somethings is just not financially viable to do these things.  But as long as the option you do have open is as green if not greener than your recycling option you have done the right thing.

You alone can't save the planet, you can only do the best you can and if you can inspire others to be as equally green we will eventually get there.

Its not easy being green!

Keep researching, and good luck with your recycling.
snozz4 years ago
Looks great. Can you (or anyone that has done this) comment on how well it works?
Wow 5 miles? Thats not really far... 50 yes.. 5 no... My nearest recycle center is 32.8miles away. But our recycle/garbage people have a yard waste day for us were they pick it up. We just have to call one week ahead of time.
Transport to the recycle center uses fossil fuel and produces carbon even from my small fuel efficient European car. If the bio mass is composted it produces methane which is 10 times more harmful to the environment than carbon.

Any bio mass I burn is carbon neutral and only releases carbon the plant has already extracted from the atmosphere, and at the end of the burn I get potash which is a natural fertilizer that I can put straight back into my garden.so I save on fuel and nasty chemical fertilizers.  It is often better to reuse than recycle.

If you want to be an engineer you will have to start thinking like one. ie what is the end result of each of you open options and which is the most efficient and environmentally sound  process.
nabo00o Dr Qui5 years ago
Hey Qui, I really love the idea of using the drum as an incinerator, we have plenty of those so it really makes for good reuse. But the whole biomass idea is a big commercial scam, at least if it is grown on fields like other foodstuffs. I 'can' support it if it was only making ethanol from waste like bad food, oil, forestation by-products etc. But growing and using oil to raise plants, for then to harvest them and convert into ethanol, a very inefficient process as a whole, it is not in any way green, and it does also put a pressure on the food price which affects the less wealthy families. I hope you see it in the way. I really support recycling, but commercial bio-diesel is not a part of that cycle. Best wishes from Norway :D
Dr Qui (author)  nabo00o5 years ago

i don't mean bio mass as in oil to make ethanol, i agree it is not as green as they say.  When I say bio mass i meant the bio mass from trees and cuttings from around my land.
nabo00o Dr Qui5 years ago
Okey, and I didn't mean to accuse you ;D They have just had too much good publicity with only ignorant questions asked, no one seem to be asking how it can be green to waste oil to make oil..... Sustainable biomass I am all for!
Simple. I build me a nice cart to attach to my bike and filler up. Ride myself over there. No fossil fuels used involved. Unless you want to go to the roots of making the bike. But hey I didn't say it wasn't logical to burn just saying 5miles isn't that far away. Thats like an hour bike ride. Great exercise. Plus if I wanted to go the extra mile on engineering I would use the heat to help heat up my generator on cloudy days. The generator is powered by a homemade, machined, 72% efficient, sterling engine(which is normally heated by a parabolic reflector in sunny florida) to help power my workshop which has all of its lighting powered by a bank of batteries at 12v dc. I also run a lot of RV appliances like a TV and a mini fridge. Still trying to work out the kinks in my system to provide enough amperage to run AC unit. But hey at least my shop is of the grid! Except when I want to run power tools.
I would love to be able to do that, I was a hardcore cyclist up until a few years ago and had to stop due to illness, I was doing 20-25 miles maybe 4-5 nights per week round some of the nastiest hills Co.Down could throw at me.

Now those same bike runs would make me ill for weeks if not kill me.

I bought a cruiser a few weeks ago as a reward to myself for building the Lenz turbine. I plan to do an electric conversion to give me assistance for the hill around me.   When i get this going I should be able to nip up to town about 5 miles almost all up hill without wrecking myself.

I would like to see and instructable on your sterling engine.  I built a wood stove for my shed and i want to build a big sterling engine that could run from the heat of the stove.

What ac stuff are you trying to run?

I *would* build
Please don't get me wrong. I love the Idea of recycling old appliances instead of filling up our landfills. In fact: I'm going to use an old wash machine tub for a fire pit once we have the excess funds to replace our current loud, inefficient, breaking-down, piece of a trash washing machine.
iBurn5 years ago
So...HYPOTHETICALLY...if I were in need of an incinerator to dispose of something...which happens to have about the same dimensions as a person....would this work...?
Dr Qui (author)  iBurn5 years ago
Nah, I would be more inclined to go look for your nearest pig farm.
iBurn Dr Qui5 years ago
...I find that to be disturbing and awesome at the same time....
MCon205 years ago
I like this idea a lot. when i first saw the pic (linked from gizmodo) I thought the base was made from an old bar stool. Even though you used other materials, i think a bar stool bottom would be pretty neat as well. I Think i might go to the junk yard now to make my own. Thanks for the Post.
Dr Qui (author)  MCon205 years ago
Where was it liked from? I certainly didn't link it anywhere. I was wondering why it was getting so many views.
MCon20 Dr Qui5 years ago
http://gizmodo.com/5598293/repurpose-an-old-washing-machine-as-a-backyard-fire-pit here it is.
Dr Qui (author)  MCon205 years ago
LOL, some of the comments over there are strangely odd, I wonder if any of them read the Instructable first?
eight5 years ago
Bravo ! So nice to see recycling in action and a lovely instructable. Well done and my thanks !!
Dr Qui (author)  eight5 years ago
Your welcome :-)
thebludshed5 years ago
Awesome Instructable Dr.Qui! My Dad has also been using his steel drum for a burn pit for many years also,I just never thought about sharing his ideas.
Dr Qui (author)  thebludshed5 years ago
Thanks, I got the idea from a friend of mine, he just sat the drum on 3 bricks and used it to burn old bank statements and utility bills. I just added a little twist on his idea.

You should never think an idea is to small or insignificant to be shared with others. If he has any other cool ideas you should post them even if you don't have the construction stages recorded.

The idea is more important in most cases than a set of instructions set in stone.

All he best, Andy.
bonus points for the S.O.D. avatar!
Dr Qui (author)  thebludshed5 years ago
I sort of look like Billy Milano, with glasses, mind you its just coincidence not by choice.

Speak English or die is my favorite album from back in the day, it just don't seem to date.  Its great for jetting into the work groove.
Dr Qui (author)  Dr Qui5 years ago
I hate the way the CD players and mp3 players put a slight pause between the March of the SOD and Sgt "D" & the SOD my old vinal lp never did.
Dr. dB Dr Qui5 years ago
Sounds like some manufacturer didn't have their act quite together when they mastered the CD and/or ripped the MP3 file(s) - or couldn't be bothered actually LISTENING to the product they were taking your money for, to see (or, rather, hear) what the ARTIST(s) intended.... My collection contains numerous CDs wherein this has been handled properly, and adjacent cuts blend directly into each other, exactly as recorded on the original vinyl. (Pink Floyd’s Animals and Dark Side albums spring to mind…) I'd suggest a program called "Audacity" (freeware). With that, it should be relatively easy for you to record both cuts from the CD into separate stereo tracks, at full CD bandwidth/quality, then copy/paste them together into one contiguous stereo track with as much or little interstitial pause as you desire. From there, a standard "Save As" will turn it from an "Audacity Project File" into any of the major audio file (-phile?) formats. Nero (or equiv.) back down to a CD-R (or equiv.), and voilà! Problem solved! Gap removed! Corporate stupidity defeated yet again! P.S.: Love this Instructible! But, NUTS! I've already wasted several dryers and a couple of washers over the last two decades, always chagrined 'cause I couldn't think of a valid reason to keep and re-use any major parts of 'em! (Fortunately, most were still working and got hand-me-downed to friends-in-need. The deaders at least got dropped off at the local used-appliance repair shop, so they may not have gone entirely to the landfill... I hope.) When the next one goes, I’ll probably give it the “Dr. Qui” treatment!
67spyder5 years ago
Washing machine tubs make great fire pits!! A small word of caution. (learned from experience) Some top load style washing machines (I think older Maytags) have a cavity around the top opening that is filled with lead shot for ballast. If you don't knock out the plug and empty this cavity then the first time you use the fire pot it will heat up, melt the lead then when the pressure gets high enough the plug will blow out, spraying molten lead everywhere. When this happened I was very fortunate that there were only minor injuries! Play safe!!
Dr Qui (author)  67spyder5 years ago
I don't like the sound of that.

Sound advice.
67spyder Dr Qui5 years ago
A smart man learns from his mistakes, a truly wise man learns from other peoples mistakes.
deni2me5 years ago
Love how this turned out. Actually, the stainless steel is beautiful as well as functional. So, I have a question...If using the enaml drums that folks are saying they use as fire pits and to roast marshmellow...well, I am wondering, what happens to enamal when it is burned? does it give off toxins? Does the enamel burn off? Just curious! Dee
I am not the scientist however I have been using the enamel version in my various cottages and camping areas for several decades with no adverse effects while the enamel turns color after repeated use I have noticed no cracking or other indications to tell me the enamel is breaking down or giving off toxins. But then we burn trash wood that we salvage from the shoreline or the land so we keep the fire at a modest temperature and also stay upwind to avoid the little bit of smoke when it smoulders towards the end. Our simple idea is to take the tub and attach it to steel pipe through the bottom with washers and nuts/fittings of appropriate size and into the ground it goes, few wodden benches and tables fabircated from forest logs and the old campfire gets reasonably good reviews. Love the instructable.
Dr Qui (author)  Haymaker0075 years ago

On second thoughts,

I have sold BBQ's with enameled parts on, so I would be fairly sure that It would be safe to use, and people have survived long enough to post the comments lol so it must be.

I would think there would be worse toxins in the smoke from the wood you would be burning and would agree with Haymaker007 to always stay upwind of the smoke.

reinlar Dr Qui5 years ago
Quite right Dr.Qui, enamel isn't toxic---it simply powdered glass that is melted to liquid and flowed like paint onto it's metal substrate. They even make grill surfaces out of it. The only problem I have seen with it is when welding steel that's been enameled, as the weld cools and the metal shrinks, small shards of the glass can pop-off while cooling (so wear safety glasses when you raise your helmet to examine your welds--if welding). You're right, there are some toxins in the wood smoke----but they TASTE so good, it's worth a little toxicity ! Keep up the good work.
Dr Qui (author)  reinlar5 years ago
Yep, you got to love some of those toxins. lol

What would we do in life without some our favorite toxins ;-)
reinlar Dr Qui5 years ago
You got that right. Very tasty indeed!
Dr Qui (author)  Haymaker0075 years ago
I don't know all that much about enamel, its very durable stuff, I would just say that it will chip if it get a hard enough knock and that may start some corrosion.

I guess that dowsing a hot enamel burner may not be a good idea as it may but I cant say for sure.  I just seem to have a vague recollection of  the old folks from long ago drumming it into my head not to put hot enamel cook ware into cold water.

nolte9195 years ago
Why can't I view this 'ible as a PDF file?
Who knows ... it is odd. However, go to top of page. Amongst little box links to the right of 1st paragraph click on "Print PDF" and download it from there. Worked for me. Mmmm wonder if I should make that an Instructable...
crazyg5 years ago
Dr Qui (author)  crazyg5 years ago

I put no form into the design just pure function this time.

I made this one taller so it would not be hard on my back when getting rid of the garden waste.

I want to make a patio heater with fancy scrolled legs that will not be as tall and a bit more stable.
reinlar5 years ago
This is a perfect example of how inventive recycling could work for most commonly discarded items. I love how you started with a NEED and then let your FOUND components tell you how to assemble them into the finished product ! That is how I build a lot of my own inventions. Take a piece of trash, examine it, clear your mind and let that trash SPEAK to you. It may want to be ART, or a TOY, or JEWELRY, or a TOOL, or a HEATER, BBQ grill, or some other useful device ! Just LISTEN to your inner creative heart, and let it flow. There is no better feeling than that creative rush when you finish and then marvel at the birth of your mind's creative powers. Then show your creations to others, gather comments and their ideas and observations and build your next project. Sooner or later, you might even discover something which could make you rich and famous. A nice by-product or creative thinking! Add a few bits of ornamentation to this trash burner and I think you've got a sell-able product on your hands. Superb work !
Dr Qui (author)  reinlar5 years ago
I examine the expensive store bought things and then break down what the various components are, you will find that the factorys use allot of standard hardware goods in their construction, knowing a good hardware store and the guys that work there helps allot too as they may know of products that you may not be aware of.
HollyHarken5 years ago
My cousin built a fire place from a washing machine tub well over 10 years ago. He had a friend weld pieces of angle iron to the tub and it make the best fire for camping! He had one made for me and I've been using it for many a year. It is starting to rust out on me :( so I need a replacement. The best part about using a washing machine tub are the holes. They give the fire a lot of air so it burns nice and hot. We usually have to move back from the fire once it get going.
Dr Qui (author)  HollyHarken5 years ago
The holes are great for ventilation.

I burned the oily newspapers I had covering the work bench and they burned down to powder with no bits left that where only charred like the burner would have been full of.

Tupulov5 years ago
An excellent idea. One word of caution though, galvanized steel gives off dangerous gasses when exposed to fire. You may want to use angle iron or "cookoff" the galvanized steel before using it. What kind of washing machine drum did you use? I'm having trouble finding one that isn't enameld.
Dr Qui (author)  Tupulov5 years ago
Hmm, I don't know what part of the world you are from, I'm in Ireland, in Europe the most favored washing machines are front loading automatics, they all have a stainless steel drum. From what I gather the US, Canada and Australia seem to favor the top loader and they mostly have enameled tubs , but from what kenbob has commented they must make a good fire pit too. general rule of thumb is top loader will be enameled and front loading automatic will have the stainless drum. The galvanized tube does not come in contact with the fire on this design, and I agree with you about the harmful gasses, I have another washing machine to gut and i will make a BBQ with it but this time will use scroll bar and make fancy ornamental legs. The galv tube was the first thing at hand for a rainy afternoon 1-2 hour tinkering job. You could be lucky and get one of those monster laundromat sizes machines to scrap you could have a bonfire in those lol. Good luck with your scavenger hunt. Keep up the good work.
The top loader washing machine has been the machine of choice in the States especially since post WW2 (was before, but front loaders came about later) I asked the reason that "we" didn't use front loaders (once was told by a local appliance person that there were no longer any "of those old things"made-I informed her that I had just returned from UK and that is ALL I saw in Europe and UK). Ten years after that the situation is changing. Post WW2 there was a push for the manufacture of washers-and it was easier to build the top loaders (fewer seals, for one thing, and direct-ish drive transmissions) there are a lot of differences between the front and top load machines...and Top loaders are water wasters-US didn't much care or think of water usage up until fairly recently. Thanks to a little education, Front loaders are becoming the wanted item for many now! (I love mine, even if I had to wait for the local dealer to become enlightened ---I live in arelatively remote area of the Mountains..you get what they get in to sell) Just thought I would explain the confusion here by American posters who didn't automatically recognise the drum was a shiny stainlees steel one from a front loader, Andy! :-) Great looking item you "cooked up" :-)
Dr Qui (author)  NickGriffin5 years ago
For years after we got the front loader my Mum went on about how the automatic was not as good for getting the oil stains out of our boiler suits, but she didn't miss the steam and the mess of using the twintub.
Dr Qui (author)  Tupulov5 years ago
Just had a thought, a tumble dryer should also have a stainless steel drum that is probably a larger capacity too.

Hope this helps.

Tupulov Dr Qui5 years ago
Excellent idea! I'm glad you mentioned it. Every now and then I'll bump into they guy that runs the laundry I use on weekends. I'll see if I might be able to grab one from an old high capacity dryer. Thanks again! I'm in the Sutherland, Virginia (USA).
Dr Qui (author)  Tupulov5 years ago
No problem :-) You will need half a tree to put in that lol. I would love to see that if you build one. I guess that you guys are more in favor of the older type top loaders with the central agitator. I can honestly say I have never seen a front loading machine featured in any American TV show or movie. PS there is almost no scrap materials in a washer or dryer, they are packed full of first class parts that have the potential for so many cool projects, you just have to keep thinking outside the box. Good luck in your hunt for a doner. Andy.
Dr Qui (author)  Tupulov5 years ago
I will post a pic of the type you need to be looking out for.
desertdog5 years ago
How cool ! Have been wanting to do a project like that. Now I know what to start with. That drum makes not only a functional piece but a pleasing one to look at.
Dr Qui (author)  desertdog5 years ago
They are real nice to look at, from an engineers eye view they are stunningly well made with perfect balance, designed to take up to 10-20 kg of off balance cloths at real high rpm without shredding them to bits, I have yet to find a sharp edge on this.

When you burn stuff in these they take on a wonderful purple and gold colour that just makes them look even nicer.

Good luck with the build.
peoplayer5 years ago
Awesome use of scrap. Looks good, too... Congratulations. Goin' out hunting for old washing machines now. :)
Dr Qui (author)  peoplayer5 years ago
Good stuff, and that will be one more washing machine put to a new use :-)

Post a pic of what you build, i would like to see what ideas other folks come up with.

good luck with the project.

sig455 years ago
I like your idea. So simple. I used to look for 55 gallon drum to burn wood in never considering this. Now what about putting a grill on it with charcol and grill a steak! Might work!
Dr Qui (author)  sig455 years ago
Might work, more like it will work see mikeespikee's comment.

We have a 55 gallon drum that is almost all burned away, my Ma has this notion that if it holds 55 gallon then it must be able to burn 55 gallon worth of crap at once, this leads to smoky burnings and the thing just gets red hot and burns out. 

I burned the massive box my new bike came in, I cut it into 8-8" strips and rolled them up like logs and they burned great, the ash didn't blow around the yard either which was the nice bit.
ezagent5 years ago
Looks great all shiny and new. What happens when you need to empty the ashes?
Dr Qui (author)  ezagent5 years ago
Its light enough just to turn over and just tip them out, and all the holes let the fine stuff out.

Best thing is that after you use it it is still nice and shiny with just a hint of purple and gold here and there unlike a galvanized incinerator that look like crap once you use them and don't last any time.
Ben Ash5 years ago
Excellent idea! Perfectly made! Before the holidays I was thinking the same thing when I studied the scrap heap in the corner of my backyard :-)
Dr Qui (author)  Ben Ash5 years ago

My next washing machine project is to make a no weld wind turbine from a washing machine. I will do that next week if the weather is good enough.

Dead washing machines are far from scrap.
NutandBolt5 years ago
Love it, I salute people that take scrap and make something great out of it. You did it, Great idea well done :-)
Dr Qui (author)  NutandBolt5 years ago

I still not got round to making one of your monkey claws, I made a 5 string banjo today instead. lol

The key to my designs is to look at the expensive thing and think what can i use to make that part, that part is just one of those with one of these attached etc..
l8nite5 years ago
the only washing machine drums Ive seen were enameled, that stainless one is way 2 cool! Great choice for a burner because all the holes will add air flow, I just wish I had thought about it ! I had to laugh about the re-re-reused bike rim, the mrs is always complaining about my scrap/junk piles but she doesn't complain when that pile yields something that benefits her!
Dr Qui (author)  l8nite5 years ago
Just had a thought, a tumble dryer should also have a stainless steel drum that is probably a larger capacity too.

Hope this helps.

Dr Qui (author)  l8nite5 years ago
My yard is just about to be cleared of a load of scrap, I just decided to have a look at what was too good to be let go for scrap, like the 14' farm gate that has about 60 feet of good galvanized tubing that would cost a fortune to buy if I needed some for a future project.

The bike rim was just a lucky find that fitted, I had though about making stays from bull wire but spotted the wheel and it just clicked into place.
kenbob5 years ago
When our 1948 maytag washer finally failed hard - main shaft broke - i salvaged the enameled steel drum. It has now served as our fire pit (recreational - marshmallow...) for about 15 years.
Dr Qui (author)  kenbob5 years ago
Can you post a pic of your fire pit, I would like to see how you built it. Other members are having trouble getting stainless steel drum but can get enameled OK. Maybe you could even do an Instructable? Cheers, Andy.
Dr Qui (author)  kenbob5 years ago

The old enameled tubs are real nice, we have the tub from our old hovermatic that was so old it had a mangle on top, it died around 1985 when our house finally got connected to the national grid. The tub has been a planter since, we replanted it only a few weeks ago and it shows no signs of corrosion at all. I saw one used as a garden sink for under an outside tap.

All the best,

mikeespikee5 years ago
hey we have down here in South Africa have been using the ole washing machine drum as a 'braai' (our local word for Barbecue ) for a while now. Burns Super with all the air holes in it. So try it out make an incuurator but use it as a barbie instead !
Dr Qui (author)  mikeespikee5 years ago
You guys in all over Africa make us Europeans look like armatures when it comes to re using and recycling.

I have seen some of the tinplate toys made in Africa, that are made using skills I barely touched on in my training, rarely used and have mostly forgotten how to do. Also the guys how thought of stripping out an old car chassis and turning it into a flat bed horse wagon, that pure genius. You guys still have the pioneer spirit that has been lost in Europe due to the ease of acess to consumer goods.

Can yo post a picture of your BBQ  I would like to see what way you made it.


sebgonz5 years ago
Looks great! I'm planning on using your design for a fire pit. Only lowering the center of gravity, like you suggested.
Dr Qui (author)  sebgonz5 years ago

I have another washing machine in one of my sheds that I will make a patio heater with, I will use 20mm x 6mm scroll bar next time and make more ornamental legs. scroll bar is about 50p per meter and would probably be a better job than pipe to make short legs.  for legs of about 6-8" you would probably not even need to use a rim to strengthen things up.

I will come back to this one to throw a little bit of art into the mix.

All the best, good luck with your project, post a pic of what you do as I would like to see what you come up with.