• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

unusual uses for 55 gal drums (plastic or metal)

 
Casey Halone
Posts: 192
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have thought of a few but would love to hear more.

cutting the top and bottom off and one cut down the side, using as roofing for a green house, as it would allow a good deal of light but still provide shade. at least the white ones seem to.

a playslide for the kiddos.
 
David Biland
Posts: 45
Location: Southeastern USA - Zone 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think some of these are pretty common uses but I will give it a shot.

Using whole:

- Filling with high surface area substrate for use as a part of a fish filter or greywater system
- Filling with water and laying them on your hillside to roll down on invading barbarians
- Rain barrels, Compost Tumbler, Thermal Mass/Water Storage, Etc.
- Maybe part of a humanure system.


Cutting lengthwise and using the halves for:

- Aquaponics grow beds
- Vertical axis windmill
- Paint inside white, mount lighting and hang for a grow light
- Maybe some kind of poor man's Earthbox
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
cheap beehive: http://www.velacreations.com/bees.html
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Depending on what was stored in them:

Bar-B-Que, metal of course  Portable is nice.

Feed and water troughs.

Buried in the ground for small root cellar.

Trombe wall.

Burn Barrel.

Chair.

Septic system.

Storage trunk.

Light bulb powered oven.

Water barrel for construction.

Swings.

Barrel stove.

Pontoons.

Barrel racing.

Childrens drum.

Rock tumbler.

Adjustable ballast holder on the back corner of boat creating surfing waves on Flathead Lake.  Seen it.

Goat toys.

Big brother used to stuff siblings in them and roll them down the hill to watch them puke. Heheh.

Shop Vac from Sam's Club.

Kids balance toy.

"Expensive-like-a-barrel-of-oil-sink".

Jewelry.

And,    ART of all kinds.

Thanks Google.

M&J
 
                          
Posts: 1
 
Warren David
Posts: 187
 
Jack Shawburn
Posts: 230
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Heat Sink
Our winters get to just about freezing in the mornings.
Very clear skies mostly.. and frost on some occasions
I will place some blue plastic drums next to small trees - filled with water
so they absorb the sun's heat during the day
and hopefully protect the saplings from
the early morning frosts.
May even try to keep heat trapped under some frost cover.
 
David Biland
Posts: 45
Location: Southeastern USA - Zone 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jen0454 wrote:
Heat Sink
Our winters get to just about freezing in the mornings.
Very clear skies mostly.. and frost on some occasions
I will place some blue plastic drums next to small trees - filled with water
so they absorb the sun's heat during the day
and hopefully protect the saplings from
the early morning frosts.
May even try to keep heat trapped under some frost cover.


Does anyone have any experience with using the plastic barrels outside and/or exposed to UV light?  How well do they hold up?  I have used the 5 gallon plastic pails I find in dumpsters and they start to get brittle and fall apart after a year or so if exposed to the sun 24/7.
 
                      
Posts: 70
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They hold up pretty well, at least those I've messed with. They're old soap barrels from gas station car washes, now that's a lot of soap! They're white/opaque-ish, and most of them sat outside by an industrial warehouse for a while.
 
Warren David
Posts: 187
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I stumbled upon this use for a 55 gallon drum while looking for homemade mulchers.
http://www.aaroncake.net/projects/mulcher.htm
 
                                
Posts: 33
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
compostme wrote:
- Filling with water and laying them on your hillside to roll down on invading barbarians






Och! Make sure it wasn't just your husband after a long night of drinkin
 
Casey Halone
Posts: 192
1
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
how would these work for earthen mass, say in place of rammed earth tires? I would think it would of gas much less. cut in half they would hold 27 gallons of dirt and would be so much easier to pack. in what way is a tire better if both can be had free and otherwise bound for a landfill?
 
                                
Posts: 33
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the sheer size, while easier to fill? Tires would be much much easier to move once filled with earth. And tires are small enough to be able to use basically as building blocks. I would hate to have a wall made of 1/2 55 gallon drums come crashing down.
The Drums also would be more of a |_| shape and the tires are still a (_) shape which also I think would make them better for building.
But if you have both, I am certain there are some good things to do with them.  Alot of the things I might come up with probably have already been said, but I'll think on it and sketch around a bit just so you can have more ideas to draw from!

 
David Biland
Posts: 45
Location: Southeastern USA - Zone 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Casey Halone wrote:
how would these work for earthen mass, say in place of rammed earth tires? I would think it would of gas much less. cut in half they would hold 27 gallons of dirt and would be so much easier to pack. in what way is a tire better if both can be had free and otherwise bound for a landfill?



I would think they would split under the heavy pressure.  I have not pounded tires myself but from what I have seen they are pounded with so much dirt that the tires stretch.  I don't think the drums would have enough elasticity.
 
Scott Howard
Posts: 59
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
JohnnyBeLovely wrote:



Cool, I really dig that.

Well, I was thinking why not cut off the bottoms, cut them in half, and use the pieces as giant roofing shingles.  The clear and opaque options in the plastic version would make for interesting roofs.

 
                  
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Plastic ones have all sorts of uses most of which involve turning them into a container for things however many forget when sealed up they also float and make great dock floats. Metal ones are fireproof and you can make grills, heaters, stump removers in case you don't want to wait for nature to remove it for you (cut top and bottom leaving the edge rings for strength, place over stump and fill with wood which concentrates the heat burning longer than a pile). And let's not forget the wooden ones like for whiskey and wine making. These make great planters but also are useful in a smoker as they are oak and pre-flavored with whiskey or wine. Given time and a variety of barrel sizes and materials I could think up thousands of things to do with them. I have never met a barrel/drum I did not like.
 
Casey Halone
Posts: 192
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
ooh yes, i had thought of a raft, just a design that hasnt been sketched out or anything, just brain storming.

I was thinking 4 total barrels, spaced out a bit, with a platform in the middle. what would be an appropriate way to secure them? and ensure the bung holes have no way to leak and fill with water? there must be some type of a bung wrench no?
 
                  
Posts: 114
Location: South Carolina Zone 8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Personally I would do 2 pontoons and a platform between them. It might require more barrels but I think it would be more stable. I think in a tool catalog I saw something designed to loosen bungs so I would figure same tool tightens them. OMG I can't believe I just said that.  If you do plan to make something that floats with plastic drums make sure you have the rubber seals for the caps (I like that word better less 3rd grade humor) and you can also add sealant. As far as securing them together what my BIL did was make a wooden frame and screw through it into the barrels. He used sealant where he ran the screws into the barrels to insure a waterproof seal. He did his pontoon style for stability and made a cone for the nose simply so he could call it a boat and get a homemade boat registration. You see he could not get a dock permit but he could tie his "boat" up where his property met the water. It was a funny sight to see him bring the battery and trolling motor and move his "boat every couple weeks just to keep it legally a boat and not a dock. When he moved to another house on the water (but out of a neighborhood and less populated) he had the same problem with a permit but had left the old "boat" behind for the new owners so instead of building the same thing again in comes a 30' pontoon boat tied up out back with ramp from yard to boat. But then at that point in his life he had a lot of money put away and wanted to stop the projects and enjoy his retirement.
 
marty reed
Posts: 120
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have made fire pits out of steel drums before just cut down the middle and weld 4 angle iron legs on you can cook plenty of food on one

The cheap guy
 
Casey Halone
Posts: 192
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
my latest discovered use, was actually as failed attempt at making a slide. fortunately, for my kids, we found a real slide free on CL.

OK so, picture them cut to use as a slide, i then take those parts and set them atop my compost pile upside down. they dont blow off like a tarp and shed the water perfectly. I reached into the pile, having lots of coffee grounds and grass clippings, ITS HOT IN THERE! I could start a Jean Pain compost pile and have it heat some raise bed's soil? I am planing on doing some raised beds with reclaimed refrigerators. I am thinking I could get my soil temps up much earlier than the weather might otherwise allow, and greatly extend the season, maybe without a heated green house OR in addition to it?


how about as row covers? would these let enough light in? even cutting in half, with the ends still on, i suppose it would depend on each one, but what i have in my head says they would get enough light.

 
Troy Rhodes
Posts: 552
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
With a cheap water pump from harbor freight and a little plumbing, they make excellent biodiesel reactors.

I'm about to graduate to 100 gal propane tanks, converted to a bigger reactor.  But my drums worked flawlessly for 6 or 7 years so far.

HTH,

troy
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 8852
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
112
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Don't know if this has been posted yet - a complete manual for building a tiny aquaponics system from 3 plastic 55 gallon barrels:

www.aces.edu/dept/fisheries/education/documents/​barrel-ponics.pdf
 
R. Peacock
Posts: 35
Location: eastern part of West Tennessee
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live in rentals and a large part of my gyspy garden that moves when I do is plastic barrels that are cut in half.    I have one with the top removed under the eve of our house as a rain barrel.    A good source of food grade plastic barrels are food and beverage processors.  Just be careful of barrels that contained solvents, oils, or cleaners.
 
Jeanine Gurley
pollinator
Posts: 1399
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Plastic drums:

Cut in half - great livestock feeders.  When I used to have horses and goats they were constantly playing with or turning over thier feeders - and forget about attaching a feeder to the fence; just something else to tear up.  They rarely turned over the half barrels and that kept the feed out of the sand and therefore out of thier bellies.

With the top cut off:  Fill up early in the morning to be left out in the sun.  Great for making children get into at the end of a long dirty day when we didn't have all of our plumbing hooked up yet.
 
                                          
Posts: 19
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Did I miss Dog Box? Sorry if already suggested. Just prop bricks along each side so it doesnt roll and cut entry hole size as needed. fill with straw or hay. makes duck house or nest box too.
 
                                        
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i found 4 free ones on craig's list.

i plan to use one for composting, one for rain barrel, one for basil garden and the extra one to go over niagra falls.

wish me luck.

evilkbarrel.
 
John Skaggs
Posts: 14
Location: Boondock, KY
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi everyone,

New to the forum and late to the topic, but wanted to add something I'd discovered about the plastic drums.

My employer has lots of surplus drums that I've found various uses for.  They're the kind with two bungs in the top and no removable lid.  Being that I've often found myself in need of lidded barrels that could hold stuff outdoors and not get the contents wet...

I found that you can evenly saw the top off of a plastic drum about half a cm from the top of the narrow neck, flip the lid over and have a perfect fitted lid that will shed water flawlessly.  They key is to leave enough of the neck for the groove in the top of the lid to fit into.  And to saw it evenly of course. 

Not sure how well I expressed that.  Thinking of making a video to illustrate better. 
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2523
Location: FL
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Drylandfish
You would do well to gather them from your employer.  Lots of uses for the drums, put them up on craigslist, you can easily pick up 20 bucks each.

Uses from my experience
-Greenhouse heat storage, explained in depth in the greenhouse thread
-Burn barrel.  I would advise you not to do this.
-Mixing concrete, grout, drywall mud with a paddle mixer.  This is a handy use for a half barrel.  Easy cleanup too.
-Beer and ice.  The other half of the barrel.

I've had one in the sun for going on 8 years, its holding up just fine.

If I had 1 or more available right now, what I would do with them:
-Raise catfish
-Compost.  Even though I have a couple of heap and a windrow, its handy having a container close to the house for kitchen scraps.  When full, use a hand truck to move it to the heap.
-Humanure.  I keep it segregated from the regular compost using a trash can.  Could use more volume.
-Rainwater catchment.  Several in a series sure would be handy.
-Livestock water tub.  Smooth out the cut edge.  I have 2 galvanized tubs now.  The bull can be kinda hard on them.
-Replacement part for the wheelbarrel-cut in half the long way, a bit on a diagonal
-store feed for the hens

I could use 50 of these things real easy.
 
ronie dee
Posts: 603
Location: NW MO
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
drylandfish wrote:
Hi everyone,

New to the forum and late to the topic, but wanted to add something I'd discovered about the plastic drums.

My employer has lots of surplus drums that I've found various uses for.  They're the kind with two bungs in the top and no removable lid.  Being that I've often found myself in need of lidded barrels that could hold stuff outdoors and not get the contents wet...

I found that you can evenly saw the top off of a plastic drum about half a cm from the top of the narrow neck, flip the lid over and have a perfect fitted lid that will shed water flawlessly.  They key is to leave enough of the neck for the groove in the top of the lid to fit into.  And to saw it evenly of course. 

Not sure how well I expressed that.  Thinking of making a video to illustrate better.   



Yeah, if you get time, post the pics. I might be able to figure it out, not sure. I d have a use for barrels with the lids cut that will shed water.
 
Doug Gillespie
Posts: 77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I cut the tops off of two, and also cut them down the sides into halves, drilled holes along the cuts, and laced them back together with bulk shoelace (shoelace in bulk 144 yard rolls is cheap, strong, and just amazingly useful, by the way).  These were used as potato planters for the method that involves adding successive layers of dirt to growin potato plants.  The idea was that I could unlace one side and open it up clam-shell style to dump the contents and harvest.  It worked OK, but in retrospect, a simple wire bin would have been better and easier. 

Doug
 
Eric Thomas
Posts: 93
Location: Northeast Oklahoma, Formerly Zone 6b, Now Officially Zone 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Two scrap drums, a 10' piece of 2 1/2-inch EMT, $4 worth of latch hardware and some scrap 16 ga. scrap.  Hour of easy sheet metal work and a couple of spot welds. Some 2x4 leftovers, and wa-la, compost in style. Some hammertone canned spray paint left over from one of my wife's artiste projects, really very stylish.  I drilled hole through the EMT at one end and stuck a piece of #6 rebar (scrap) through it and I give it a whirl every night when I go out to secure the chickens.  Onerous chore turned into light exercise. 

Only thing I would do differently is get another free scrap drum (I have a friend with a business that produces a fair number of otherwise scrap drums) and cut out a side to make a larger opening that matches the rib pattern.  I drilled a mess of 5/16th in. holes in the ends for ventilation. 
DSCF1928.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSCF1928.JPG]
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If they were filled with something non-toxic and they are made of that clear-ish white plastic you could use them as thermal mass in a greenhouse or sunroom and raise tilapia fish which are filter feeders. They would gobble up all of the algae which would grow profusely. The fish and algae tend to produce water which is quite dark and therefore a good thermal absorption medium.
 
John Skaggs
Posts: 14
Location: Boondock, KY
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Better late than never on that drum lid video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oJRRyqjkDs&feature=youtube_gdata_player


 
Gilbert Fritz
Pie
Posts: 1029
Location: Denver, CO
15
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm thinking about filling them with soil and using them, standing up in a row, as a retaining wall for a sunken hot frame. Even better, I'm thinking about filling them with gravel and soil as wicking barrels AND retaining in the hot frame. Anyone have an idea on how this would work?
 
John Polk
steward
Pie
Posts: 7757
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
240
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jimmy Buffet would approve this use of steel drums.

MARGARITAVILLE



 
Nancy Troutman
Pie
Posts: 185
Location: Swanton, MD
10
books food preservation goat hugelkultur tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Slice them in half long ways.   We use them as canoes when we were kids.  It is amazing we survived our childhood in hindsight.

 
jimmy gallop
Pie
Posts: 193
Location: east and dfw texas
3
bee chicken forest garden hunting trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
worm bins and black fly larva bins .all the stuff from the chicken house floor goes into one and watered then stocked with worms don't take long for it to be ready for the garden.I also store feed in them.one gets all the fish heads and guts to make fertilizer .I have about 20 that I have stuff in.the blue plastic ones.I fill one with water and leaves grass and any thing else I decide or have on hand and water the garden out of.make good scaffolding if half filled with water. 
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 374
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
18
books dog food preservation forest garden goat trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Casey Halone wrote:how would these work for earthen mass, say in place of rammed earth tires? I would think it would of gas much less. cut in half they would hold 27 gallons of dirt and would be so much easier to pack. in what way is a tire better if both can be had free and otherwise bound for a landfill?


Three things ...
# 1 - They usually aren't free. Around here you have to pay $20 to $30 per barrel for food grade plastic ones (IF you can find them) and around $5 to $10 for metal. Tires really are free. Sometimes they will even pay you to haul them away.

#2 - Plastic barrels do break down in the sun, so would need covering ASAP to prevent deterioration. Metal barrels rust - in ground or out. Tires take forever to deteriorate. Which is why they are such nightmares in landfills.

#3 - The torus shape of a tire holds dirt well after packing and helps to distribute the weight of subsequent layers well. Cutting a barrel in half reduces its strength and makes for stacking difficulties since it will want to splay out at the unsupported top.

I'm sure there are other reasons why tires are better for rammed earth walls as well, but those are the obvious ones.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic