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Austin 10-07-2013 08:55 AM

Cleaning Steel Drums
My landlord dropped off my steel drums so I can start burning off the brush in my yard.

He mentioned as he unloaded them that they have an industrial lubricant in them but didn't know what it was.

How would I clean these things out to make sure I don't inhale dangerous vapors.

kok328 10-07-2013 10:44 AM

Fire is the best cleaner in this situation, just stand back during the first burn to avoid inhaling the fumes.

bud16415 10-07-2013 12:12 PM

The first thing you should do is review the MSDS information on the side of the drum. Where I work we no longer give away or sell used drums. The liability, traceability and all around risks are too high. We have a cleaning process and all cleaning materials are processed in our waste treatment facility and then we have a barrel crusher and the go into scrap steel.

Some things are fairly safe until you burn them and then the fumes can be quite toxic. The old school way and the way I remember as a kid is dad brings home a drum from work and we took a pick ax and punched holes in the side and bottom for air. Filled it up with papers and lit it off any day of the week except Monday that was laundry day. Who knew what we were inhaling and everyone did it and no one was going to call the cops. Today I would rather burn in a pile if I had to and forget the industrial drums.

Read the MSDS and proceed at your own risk.

Austin 10-08-2013 08:49 AM

I'm going to use a combination of soap and fire. It's been raining so a lot of it is already starting to make it's way out.

I'll burn out when the kids aren't around. I am afraid of fumes from an industrial lubricant. I have two, so I'm going to get all this burn off done pretty quick I'm hoping.

Drywallinfo 10-09-2013 07:08 AM

Also, make sure you have a hole in the bottom of your barrel for air intake. In addition, you should cut out a 4" by 4" square on the side about mid level. Without the vent holes, this will not burn worth a darn. To cut these holes out, you can use a 7 1/4" carborundum blade on a circular saw, but wear gloves and eye protection as there will be a lot of hot sparks flying.

bud16415 10-09-2013 08:08 AM

With the understanding you get the drum somewhat cleaned out and know the side effects of burning the residual material and use caution for yourself and others.

The best method for burning brush as you mentioned in a drum burner and getting proper venting and ease of cleanup is to remove the entire bottom and place the drum on 3 concrete blocks to raise it off the ground. Thus using it as a tall fire ring. The drum will too fast fill with ash with any other method and then some rain and you will have something almost impossible to move. Once the heat burns off all outer paint coating the drum will rust very fast making removal even harder. With the bottom out it will contain the fire and between burns it’s easy to shovel out the ash from the bottom. Place it in manageable size containers for disposal or use it in your garden. Drum will last about a year around here maybe longer in Texas and when it’s rusted out it will self-destruct and will be easy to get rid of.

Keep the second one as a replacement.

Austin 10-15-2013 02:10 PM

Learned my lesson on the side hole. I cut bottom holes, but they weren't enough. Then it rained. Now I have to empty out the barrel and cut another hole in it.

nealtw 10-15-2013 06:24 PM

Did you burn the barrel first?

bud16415 10-16-2013 06:09 AM

Cut the whole bottom out and you will thank me later. By setting it up on blocks and letting the ash fall out the bottom the drum will last about 5 times as long. Wet heavy ash in the bottom will rust them out really fast. :D

Austin 10-16-2013 08:40 AM


Originally Posted by nealtw (Post 92511)
Did you burn the barrel first?

I did a quick burn out, but it didn't burn too long.

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