Toxic Waste Barrels

Introduction: Toxic Waste Barrels

Make your own toxic waste containers! This project took just a couple of hours, but had to be completed over two days to allow time for the paint to dry. All materials are readily available at your local home supply chain.

Materials used:
* Three disposable, cardboard trash containers (sold flat, when opened will support a 32-gallon trash bag (Home Depot $3.99))
* Yellow, red, black, and white paint
* Painter's tape (the easily removable blue kind), 1.5 inch width
* Expanding foam (3 cans used here)
* Two strands of Christmas lights
* Printer, paper, glue

Step 1: Form the Barrels

The "barrels" are actually disposable trash containers used to hold a 32-gallon trash bag. They come flat and there are instructions on the cardboard on how to open them up to full-size. In addition to folding in the flaps on the top of the box as instructed, I solidified the shape with Gorgilla tape (optional).

The materials list included three of these containers. The intention of these instructions is to create two barrels. However, you need lids for the two barrels and that is why the third container is needed. Once you construct the barrels, set one on top of the flattened third container (basically just a piece of cardboard now), and trace the inside of the barrel onto the flattened cardboard. Cut out of the piece. Repeat for your second barrel lid using the other side of the flattened box.

Step 2: Create White Lines

In the pictures, notice that there is a white line about 10 inches from the top and from the bottom of the "barrel." Using white paint (spray or latex, doesn't matter), paint a strip in each area a couple of inches wide. Once the paint dries, create a straight line around the barrel with the 1.5 inch wide painter's tape.

Step 3: Paint the Barrels

In the previous step, we applied the painter's tape to protect the white line. Leave that on.

Paint the top and bottom thirds of the barrel black. Paint the tops of your cans black.

For the center of the barrel, paint one barrel red and the other yellow. Apply one coat and allow it to dry completely. Apply a second coat.

Step 4: Adding the Lights

In this step, you will attach a string of Christmas lights to the top of each barrel. I purchased cheap, generic Christmas lights from Home Depot. There were 300 lights on each string. This may be a bit excessive.

There are various ways to attach the lights to the barrels. The easiest is to use tape. You can use the blue painter's tape that you already have, but it is a little difficult to manage.

I used 10 inch zip ties. Using an electric screwdriver, I went along the top of the barrel and made holes every couple of inches. From the outside of the barrel, I inserted one end of a zip tie in one hole, threaded it around the back of the barrel, and out through the next hole. I jumbled up a handful of lights and secured it with the zip ties. Worked like a charm. On the side of each barrel, I attached some lights vertically draping down the side and attached them in the same way. The intention was to have the glowing ooze dripping down the side of the barrel.

Quick tip! Make sure that you leave enough electrical cord from the plug-in end so that it will reach the ground on the inside of the barrel. Otherwise, (like me), you will be trying to crawl inside this barrel to the top to try to connect the extension cord!

Step 5: Glowing Ooze!

Take the tops of your barrels and manipulate the lights around them so that the top will stay on. It will basically sit on top of the lights that you have attached. Leave about an inch or two gap so that you can fill it will foam. 

Before using expanding foam, please protect your ground surface with a plastic painter's tarp, some old cardboard, anything that you have on hand. I recommend the clear painter's plastic (will share with you why in a minute). Also, wear gloves! This stuff does not come off easily!

Grab your expanding foam and start to fill the gap. The expanding foam will attach the top and the lights to the barrel for you. Remember that expanding foam will continue to expand for at least an hour, so go light - you can always add more. Cover as much of the lights and electrical cord as possible. Some of the expanding foam will "drip" off and fall into globs on the floor. That's okay! If it is touching the barrel on the sides, once it dries, it will easily lift off the plastic and will stay attached to the barrel giving a realistic look.

Step 6: Make It Scary

Do a Google image search for keywords such as "radiation," "biochemical," "caution," etc. Print out "labels" for your barrel. I recommend printing the labels sized at half a page. Cut out the labels and glue them onto the barrels randomly.

After allowing a couple of hours for the foam to dry, plug in your lights and dance around the garage, patting yourself on the back at just how clever you are!


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    2 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 6

    Awesome! By any chance do you have instructions on your alien ship. Can’t figure out how to join the umbrellas


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you. It's been so long that I don't recall exactly, but I'm sure that zip ties were involved.