Beer Keg Metal Melting Furnace




About: Professional work in various electrical and mechanical fields, obscure sense of humour and typically willing to help... Currently under contract designing environmental monitoring equipment.

So there is a long list of instructions on building a metal melting furnace. But I have decided to show you my process anyway.

I have turned an old beer keg into a portable metal melting furnace, This will cover both the furnace and the propane torch burner. I being in Canada relay heavily on Canadian Tire store and online product availability.

The metals were acquired locally at a metal recycler and the chems were from a not so local chem supplier, OH and the melting material from a previous employer.

Spot the movie quote and get a 3 month pro membership. (first 3)

Step 1: Destroy the Keg

NOTE: No beer was harmed in this step.

I acquired a defective stainless keg from a local brewery.

Measure and cut the top portion away. I needed a lid to control the burn so I cut away the top 3 inches of the keg using an angle grinder and custom make bottle cutter jig. The keg drop tube was removed leaving a perfect vent hole in the lid.

Next I cleaned the cut line of all metal burrs.

Finally I cut a 2 inch hole approximately 4 inches from the bottom if the keg in the sidewall as shown.

Step 2: Fiddling With Science

I have found over a long experimental range that a two bottle per bag ratio seems to work best. I am referring to a 1L bottle of Sodium Silicate 37 to 40% from my favorite online store to 1 bag of Perlite from my favorite local store.

This mixture is thoroughly packed into the open cavity of the Keg using any mechanical means necessary.

Step 3: Pack Until Full

I used a concrete form and old plumbing pipe for this bit.

Wrap the forms in wax paper to prevent sticking.

Place the forms as shown and carefully pack the Perlite to fill the sides and top.

NOTE: This may need more than 1 week to dry depending on your environmental conditions. Too soon and the mixture will fall apart. I actually needed 8 days for mine due to the cold nights.

Carefully peel the cardboard tube out and remove the plumbing tubing. The wax paper may stick but be sure the Perlite doesn't crumble. if it does then coat the surface with more Sodium Silicate liquid to adhere it together then let it dry.

Step 4: Refractory Lining

I mix a 1 to 1 ratio of Prolab Sodium Silicate with 1200 grit white aluminum oxide abrasive.

This is used as a refractory lining to prevent degradation of the Perlite. Without, I find that the Perlite will melt and become brittle after only 1 or 2 burns.

NOTE: Sodium Silicate eats Nitrile gloves. I am shown here with Nitrile gloves but these didn't last more than a couple of minutes in the mixture. luckily i had no allergic reaction.

Carefully and completely coat the entire surface of the furnace with the mixture. this will form a kind of ceramic coating over the Perlite and allow for hotter burns in the future.

Fire the furnace to set the Aluminum oxide coating. A nice glow of orange will indicate the completion of the set.

Step 5: Make It Portable

As shown. Fabricate a frame and moving platform for the keg. measurements are based on the keg size.

I used some pneumatic wheels and 2X1 steel tubing.

The frame houses the base of the keg yet allows for quick moving via a dolly like design.

The bolts are sized to attach the wheels. In this case they are 3/4 but they may vary depending on your wheel of choice.

The handle is galvanized conduit so if welding make sure to use a respirator or open air or safety.

By the way... a flap disc is the bad welders best friend. Massive metal removal and smooth finish. get one and thank me....

Step 6: The Burner

Now that you have waded through the furnace it is time to reveal the quiet burner.

This utilizes a .20 mig tip as the primary orifice.

I also use a commercial propane torch as a regulator as shown.

The mig tip is fitted into a 1/4in waterline adapter as shown. The adapter is then threaded into another brass fitting as prepared earlier.

I have found that drilling at a 45 degree angle air inlet holes in relation to the airflow greatly reduces the amount of noise generated. In this case I have made 5 holes that are approx 3/8 in diameter. These are intersecting with the point of the mig tip as shown.

The brass is 1 inch in diameter and will expand to 1.25 inside diameter with an adapter.

Inside of the 1.25 pipe is a steel screen that will produce turbulence and make the flame burn hotter.

There is exact science here but I circumnavigated it to produce a hot and reliable flame. On full power it will not stay lit outside of the furnace but will work properly when in place.

It takes about 20 minutes to melt the contents of the crucible with this torch and furnace.

Step 7: The Firey Crucible

OK so there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

The crucible I use is actually steel tube with a laser cut steel circle for a base.

These were all found at the scrap recycler over the course of a couple of months.

basicly there are 2 holes drilled at 180 degrees near the top and a full base cover welded in position.

I find that a 6 inch tube will allow to melt a hard drive case without any folding or breakdown.

I use a 1/4 inch steel rod bent into a handle to pick and pour the metal.

Step 8: Between Projects

So I have decided to melt aluminum but have no current project.

The scrap is melted and poured into cast iron pans. This yields ingots of high purity and ease of use.

I have a project coming soon that will use these ingots and more...

Metal Contest

Runner Up in the
Metal Contest

Reuse Contest

Participated in the
Reuse Contest

Before and After Contest

Participated in the
Before and After Contest



    • Beauty Tips Contest

      Beauty Tips Contest
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest

    34 Discussions


    2 months ago

    You say:
    "I have found over a long experimental range that a two bottle per bag
    ratio seems to work best. I am referring to a 1L bottle of Sodium
    Silicate 37 to 40% from my favorite online store to 1 bag of Perlite
    from my favorite local store."

    So.. is it 2 bottles to one bag or 1 bottle?

    Also, now that its been many years, can you give an update to how long the refractory lining has lasted?

    1 reply

    Reply 2 months ago

    I guess the wording is a little strange... It is 2 x 1L bottles.
    The refractory lasts forever if melting pewter which is where I mostly work now.
    I got around 20 firings for melting aluminum.
    Copper and bronze only lasts a couple of times before the Perlite starts to melt into brown glass and degrade.

    I hope that this helps


    3 months ago on Step 4

    Did you keep this G? How long does the coating last. I’m going to make one :), Jordan

    christopher cramer

    2 years ago

    Hey I am planning to line the outside of my foundry with ceramic fiber blanket, but I cant seem to find any place that sells ITC 100 or any other sealant to seal the fibers. Would the sodium silicate mixture work for protecting the loose fibers?

    dave Dunn

    3 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Random
    I can get refractory cement mate it's fairly expensive even for a small pot but I dare say it would still be a lot cheaper than Althea other alternative you mentioned

    dave Dunn

    3 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks random
    I was also looking at another idea I saw from another site where the guy used perlite mixed with sodium silicate then after that had dried out completely he gave it a little burn and then used an inch of refractory cement over the top . He said that worked for him

    dave Dunn

    3 years ago

    Thanks I just found this and man that's exactly how I want to build my own . I have several different sized pipes including large gas cylinders and I have filled them with water before doinany work on them

    3 replies

    I wish you the best on your build. Sounds like you are playing safe! If you can get refractory cement, use that instead of the aluminum oxide. Make an insulation layer of perlite then coat it with cement about 3/4 to 1 inch thick, that way you will be able to use more heat and melt all the way up to steel... I just did a 4 pound aluminum pour and noticed some cracks forming on the ceramic layer as the furnace cooled.

    Thanks Random
    I will use refractory cement . Would you suggest using ceramic type lining under the cement or use something different . I noticed some insulation down my way which is like fiberglass insulation. Any more suggestions please shoot them my way mate .

    The ceramic blanket insulation will work as well. The goal here is to contain as much heat in the furnace. Make sure the get the blanket that is rated for the max temperature you want to go up to.

    Mine can be handled with bare hands immediately after a burn is done. If you use solid refractory cement the whole assembly will take many hours to cooled down before it can safely be handled. Just be sure to wear a respirator since the ceramic fibers are considered toxic to breathe.

    Note that with the refractory cement there is an additional item needed. These are called stainless needles, these work as a kind of rebar binding agent and will greatly extend the life of the lining and reduce cracking. Plus they are available in bulk and super cheap. Where you buy refractory cement should stock them.

    Sorry for the late reply.


    That is exactly how I got started... This coating seems to work wonders... I had a minor spill but after cooling the aluminum just pealed off. I'm now at burn 26 and it still looks new!


    It would seem to be a function of your heat potential vs the melting point of the cast iron scrap. Steel melts at 1371 c. and cast iron at 1200 c., so if the crucible is some form of steel and your forge heats to above 1200 c. but below the melting point of your crucible, you should (theoretically) be OK to melt cast iron scrap. See

    Excellent .ible!!!


    Thanks and possibly but I have no where near the protective gear to even want to try it. I'm not even sure if the refractory would withstand the heat.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Melting point is one thing, but metals get soft when heated. I'd be extremely cautious with iron. The crucible lifting points might bend out, or the welds holding the base could fail, dumping molten iron everywhere.

    Graphite is the common choice for a crucible.


    Reply 3 years ago

    Very true, but what' the availability of maleable graphite in usable form? Being on a fixed income, my first concern after finding a useable source of carbon would be "can I afford it?".