Burn barrels are a major part of living in more rural areas. They’re a convenient way to get rid of yard waste and debris. A great burn barrel is a safe and easy disposal method for anyone with extra space.

What qualifies as the right burn barrel for you will depend on the size you want. Every household with a burn barrel will use it differently. If you’re planning on burning a lot of yard waste, you’ll need something larger and heavy-duty. If you’re mostly getting rid of fallen leaves and paper, you can use something a little smaller. The best burn barrel for you is as individual as your home.

Finding the best burn barrel can be a little tricky, so I’ve put together some of the best options for all sizes in this quick guide. Including a DIY option! Oh, and I also covered:

  1. Staying Safe With Burn Barrels
  2. What to Put In Burn Barrels

Ready? Then let’s get started. 

Your Homemade Burn Barrel! (DIY)

Best for Hands-On People

DIY Homemade Burn Barrel

It may not be pretty, but a DIY burn barrel can do the job well. Source: CommonSenseHome.com

First and foremost, the perfect burn barrel for your situation is the one you make yourself. If you have a 55 gallon steel barrel, a free morning and some power tools, you can build your own burn barrel. That’s a simple and quick way to customize a burn barrel to your exact needs.

There are two downsides to a homemade burn barrel. First, homemade barrels rust more quickly than built barrels, because they’re usually not made of stainless steel. If they get left in the rain, rust will start to form at the ventilation holes, and soon enough the bottom will fall out.

The other downside is that 55 gallon steel drums are expensive if you don’t already have one. Unless you live somewhere where you can find old burn barrels on Craigslist, getting a premade burn barrel can save you time and money.

Pros Cons
No delivery wait timeRequires having materials and tools
Completely customizableNot guaranteed to be efficient
Potentially freeLikely to rust

Our Verdict

If you have the supplies and you’re willing to work with your hands, making your own burn barrel is a fantastic choice.

You keep a barrel out of the landfill, you can put it together in no time, and you can customize it however your state requires. It’s hard to beat that!

Best Large Burn Barrel: Burn Right Incinerator

Best Large Burn Barrel

Burn Right Home Incinerator Cage

Burn Right large incinerator
Patented airflow system helps maintain temperatures over 1600°F.

If you want a burn barrel that can handle anything you throw at it, the Burn Right Home Incinerator Cage is a great option. It’s a 100% stainless steel cage that can hold more than nine cubic feet of material. No matter how much yard waste you have, this burn barrel can handle it without ever warping.

The Burn Right Incinerator is also designed for efficiency. Burn Right has patented their airflow system, which can help generate temperatures over 1600°F. That cuts smoke production dramatically. The intense temperatures make sure that even the substances in the smoke are ignited! This makes the Burn Right incinerator more environmentally-friendly than many alternatives.

The barrel comes with a lid and an optional ash-catcher. That, plus the round shape, makes the Burn Right barrel incredibly easy to clean. Remove the ash catcher and then hose it down, and you’re all set.

Best of all, this incinerator is easy to assemble. It can be put together in less than 45 minutes, from opening the box to loading it up for the first time. You’ll be able to burn your first load in less than an hour.

Pros Cons
Nearly smokeless burnPrice bump due to quality
Huge burn capacity
Easy to clean

Our Verdict

When you need to burn a lot of stuff at once, it’s hard to beat the Burn Right incinerator.

The impressive burn material capacity allows you to process a lot all at once. Meanwhile, the circular stainless steel construction will never warp or rust. The ash catcher makes it even simpler to clean.

As long as you have room for this burn barrel, it’s the perfect choice to safely and efficiently get rid of organic materials.

Note: The link below goes direct to Burn Right Products. By buying direct you get the best customer service, warranty, and help to support the manufacturer (instead of lining Amazon’s pockets!).

Best Medium Burn Barrel: Camco Burn Bin

Best Medium Burn Barrel

Camco 22-Inch Burn Bin

Camco medium burn barrel
Slot and tab construction is easy to put together or take apart.

If you’re interested in something a little smaller, the Camco Burn Bin has a slightly smaller footprint.

This burn barrel is made of high-strength carbon steel, guaranteed to stand up to high temperatures. While carbon steel is not rust-proof, the Camco Burn Bin is hand-oiled before delivery to fend off corrosion.

The Camco bin can safely hold up to six cubic feet of material. The specially designed vents allow for airflow to keep fires burning hot. It comes with a lid to help keep sparks contained.

Cleaning the Camco is a little trickier than cleaning round burn barrels, since ash and grime can build up in the corners. However, gently hosing it down and re-oiling it will keep it rust-free and looking good for years to come.

Finally, the Camco can be put together in less than fifteen minutes. The slot and tab construction makes it foolproof to assemble and take apart. If you only use your burn barrel occasionally, the Camco is incredibly easy to store without taking up space.

Pros Cons
Easy to store flatNot completely rust-proof
Easy to assemble because of slot and tab designHarder to clean due to tight corners
Smaller footprint when assembled

Our Verdict

If you want a burn barrel with a solid burn capacity that you can still store easily, this is it.

The Camco burn bin can easily be taken apart and stored flat, so it won’t take up space when you’re not using it.

As long as you’re careful about rust, this barrel will last you for years due to its carbon steel construction.

Best Small Burn Barrel: Professional Grade Products Stainless Steel Incinerator Cage

Best Small Burn Barrel

Professional Grade Products Stainless Steel Incinerator Cage

Professional Grade Products small burn barrel
Compact size is great for small loads and small yards.

If you need something compact that will burn your waste efficiently, the Professional Grade Products burn barrel is a great choice. This small stainless steel incinerator cage is perfect for burning smaller loads efficiently. It can handle up to two and a half cubic feet of material safely at once.

The efficient vents help the cage maintain high temperatures for a low-smoke burn. The cross-braces in the barrel help maintain airflow, so the fire will destroy everything. Meanwhile, the heavy-gauge stainless steel will never warp and the included lid contains sparks for your safety.

This is another square incinerator, so cleaning it can pose some problems. However, since it’s stainless steel, hosing it down poses no risk of rust. It also weighs only 25 lbs, so it’s easy to move and store when not in use.

Pros Cons
Stainless steel means no rust problemsNo ash catcher
Compact designHarder to clean because of tight corners
Slot and tab design makes it easy to assemble Small capacity for burn materials

Our Verdict

If you burn small amounts of yard waste frequently, consider the Professional Grade Stainless Steel incinerator cage.

It’s compact and built to last. Stainless steel will stand up to high temperatures and wet conditions without problems.

If you need something that fits in a small space, this is a fantastic option.

How to Stay Safe with Burn Barrels

Following basic fire safety guidelines will keep you safe with your burn barrel. Remember, a burn barrel reaches much higher temperatures than a campfire. That makes proper fire safety even more important.

Put your burn barrel in a clear, empty area, away from anything flammable. Make sure that there’s room for smoke to escape, so you don’t risk smoke buildup. Water down the ground around it, to keep dust and grass from catching on fire.

Keep your burn barrel half full at most. This helps avoid having it tip over. It also helps everything burn more efficiently.

Use the lid that comes with your burn barrel unless you’re adding new materials. This will keep sparks safely inside and prevent stray fires.

When you’re done with your fire, make sure it’s thoroughly out before you leave. Rake the ashes and stamp out sparks, then douse the whole thing with water. Repeat that a few times until you don’t see any more sparks. Once the ashes are cool, you’re safe to leave.

What to Put in Burn Barrels

Historically, people have used burn barrels to get rid of all of their trash, full stop. Today, that’s not such a good idea. Burn barrels are at their best when you use them to get rid of organic materials. That includes stuff like:

  • Paper
  • Grass clippings
  • Food scraps
  • Fallen tree branches
  • Old wood chips
  • Dead plants

These are all safe to burn and won’t hurt your lungs or the environment.

Some things aren’t safe to burn. They either create noxious, nasty smoke, or they can explode. Either way, you should avoid putting dangerous substances into burn barrels.

What to Keep Out of Burn Barrels

These things explode when on fire:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Sealed glass bottles
  • Sealed sodas
  • Sparklers or fireworks
  • Fuel – gas, kerosene, or oil
  • Alcohol

These things create noxious smoke that can hurt your lungs:

  • Paint (may contain lead)
  • Rubber, especially tires (lots of thick, black smoke)
  • Plastic (carcinogenic smoke)
  • Styrofoam (carcinogenic smoke)
  • Electronics (heavy metals in the smoke)
  • Pesticides and garden chemicals (carcinogenic smoke)

Proper burn barrel safety will keep your burns efficient and worry-free.


There are plenty of options out there when it comes to getting a burn barrel. Whether you decide to make your own or invest in a professional-quality incinerator, burn barrels are the easiest was to get rid of yard waste.

I hope that this guide as helped you choose the right burn barrel for your home.

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Thanks for reading, and have a great day!