How to burn trash

January 9, 2021 By Christina

How to burn trash

Do you want to know how to burn yard waste in your backyard? Many people prefer to get rid of brush and yard debris without having to haul it to the dump. If you’re like many, we’ll cover how you can burn yard waste without hauling it away.

First thing you need to do is check with your city or county regulations. They usually will showcase burn days and burn restrictions. For some areas, it just doesn’t matter how careful you are, if things are so dry, then just one stray ember can cause a lot of damage.

You’ll need to check with your local fire department again for burn days or burn seasons. If you’re out of season, just pile up your yard waste until it’s time.

Many restrictions include that your burn area should be at least 150 feet from your neighbor’s house and at least 50 feet from yours. Also check the weather for the day to make sure that the wind isn’t blowing too much.

You want to be less than 10 miles an hour for blowing. But you’ll also want to make sure that if any winds are blowing, that it’s not blowing directly at a structure.

Burn Area

Next, you’ll want to create a burn area. If you have an extremely large area to deal with and need a large burn pile, then you can create a cinder block fire pit.

Still, your fire pit shouldn’t go larger than 3 to 4 feet high and no more than 3 or 4 feet around. The goal isn’t to burn everything at once. It’s more of a longer, burning session where you continue to add to the burn pile as things burn off, so keeping it smaller makes it easier to manage in case something gets out of hand.

After setting out your cinder blocks, make sure you have removed any brush or yard debris around the burn area. This should help reduce any chances of an ember catching fire outside your burn barrier.

We built this one as our oyster roast fire pit and also started out as our burn pit. It’s currently out of burn season, so you see we have grass growing around it right now.

But when we built this, we created a gravel perimeter and when burn season comes back, we’ll remove all the grass and weeds so nothing catches.

How to burn trash

If you have a average yard size with typical yard waste, then you can see our post on how to make a burn barrel. Most feed and seed stores will carry burn barrels. These make it much easier to handle any yard waste.

We’ve also found that having a burn barrel is a much cleaner burn because the fire gets extremely hot and you barely have any smoke coming off it. That’s my favorite type of burn day.

Again, when burn season is back, we’ll clear this area so no stray embers catch anything.

How to burn trash

Keep a poker stick and water source on hand in case anything jumps, so you can take care of it quickly. Again, if you have a burn barrel, it should make things easier to deal with.

If you have a fancy fire pit area, feel free to use that as well. If your yard waste isn’t a lot, then having the yard waste is the perfect fire starter for your fire pits.

When it’s time to burn and you’ve checked with local authorities on when you can burn things, the next thing to do is to make sure that you’re only burning authorized items.

When starting the fire, use leaves, newspaper, or the small tinder to get the fire going. Most will want to start it with fire starter fuel, but that can cause the fire to become unmanageable.

You’ll probably have a good amount of ash leftover. Great news! There are a lot of cool uses for wood ash.

How to burn trash

Household trash and plastics is usually never authorized to be burned in city municipalities and counties.

You’ll want to keep the things you burn to typical yard brush and mowing clippings. Don’t burn things like poison oak or poison ivy. That is very toxic when released into the air.

And just keep a steady feed, while burning everything. It can take one to two hours to burn a 4 by 4 area of yard waste.

How to burn trash

How to burn trash

What do you mean there’s no “garbage man??”

Are the exact words that go through people’s heads when they move to a rural area in the sticks. And it’s true, there’s no magical garbage man to take your trash away once every week.

So what am I supposed to do with all this garbage?

Enter the magic of the burn barrel! That’s what we’re going to go over today, and while the burn barrel is a great tool to get rid of a lot of your waste, it’s not what you should use for every ounce of garbage you produce.

We’ll go over all the ins and outs of how to make a burn barrel at the end, but first we should cover- what should be burned in it, where you can get a burn barrel specifically made for burning trash, and a few other things you might not know.

What You’ll Need to Make the Burn Barrel

  • Metal 55 Gallon Barrel
  • Drill
  • Shovel
  • Metal Grate
  • Cinder Blocks (Optional)

Burn Barrel Basics

A burn barrel is basically exactly what it sounds like, it’s a barrel/55 gal drum, that you burn your trash in to make it easier to get rid of. This a pretty widespread tactic used by people living outside of the reach of city dumps, but can also be used by those living within city limits as long as you follow the rules. Check with your city counsel for that bit of information.

What to Burn in a Burn Barrel

The things you want to put in your barrel are the things you would put in your trash can normally. Minus large plastic containers like laundry detergent containers.

So scraps you wouldn’t feed your animals, food wrappers, small plastics, and other items like that. If you have a compost pile, which everyone should, you should put the biodegradable stuff in it to get the most out of your money.

DO NOT PUT LIGHTBULBS, COMBUSTABLE CHEMICALS, AEROSOLS, OR OTHER HAZARDOUS WASTE IN THE BARREL.

How to Use a Burn Barrel

This section shouldn’t be skipped, as most people make the unfortunate mistake of “winging” the operation of their burn barrel and making a smelly and smoky mess. So save yourself the headache and educate yourself.

First of all, you need to burn your trash one bag at a time to avoid making smoky trash.

While the purpose of the burn barrel is to get rid of all your trash without relying on someone else to come and get it, you need to do it responsibly. And that means being patient and putting one bag in the burn barrel at a time. It burns hotter like this anyway, so it would probably take the same amount of time to effectively burn all the bags at once as it would to burn the bags one at a time.

Next you’ll want to AVOID ACCELERANTS LIKE GASOLINE.

While this will get the burn going a little bit faster, it’s just not a safe practice to get into, and as referenced in Commonsensehome post about this topic, it’s a liability to suggest something that dangerous.

But using newspaper and dried woods to start the fire is perfectly fine! As mentioned in common sense’s post, it’s something that’s regularly used to get these fires going.

How to burn trash

4 Steps to Make a Burn Barrel

Finally, the topic you actually came here for! Making a burn barrel doesn’t have to be a huge pain in the butt, and making one that burns well and lasts forever isn’t hard at all either. So we’re going to give you our take on how to assemble your burn barrel.

We don’t claim to have everything down as a master when it comes to this topic, but we’ve practiced enough to know that this way works and it’s effective!

1. A Unique Twist on Burning

Most people will set their barrels on cinder blocks or have custom metal rigs made to get the perfect air flow and clearance. But we feel like the real solution is staring us all in the face, use the Dakota Fire Hole method to create a focused blaze that pulls air in and forces flames up!

I’m sure you know the basics of a dakota fire hole, but we can briefly recap for those that might still be staring at the screen with questions.

If you can, you’ll want to put this hole on the edge of a steep hill, you’ll see why soon.

The basis of how this trick works is to dig a hole, in this case you’ll want to make it roughly 4 inches smaller in circumference than the barrel, and you’ll dig about 1 ft. down to make a cylinder shaped hole. Now the next part is a bit tricky. You’ll then dig a hole roughly 2 feet away from the larger hole, this hole will go down and then connect with the larger hole. This is why you want to dig this on a hill if possible.

How to burn trash

And there you have it, a dakota fire hole! This method force feeds the fire into a roaring fire, by forcing the airflow in through the hole and the only place the heat has to go is straight up the burn barrel.

2. Poke Holes in Your Barrel (Make it Fun)

This is either where the hand drill or hand gun will come in very handy! Either way you do it you need to make sure that the holes are spaced out and follow a pattern similar to the one below.

How to burn trash

These holes allow more air to fan the flames and build the heat. If you’re using the dakota fire hole method this might be a little overkill, but it’s up to you, maybe you just want to shoot something. Either way, there you have it!

3. Prepare Your Bottom

Bottom of the barrel that is.

Again if you’re using the dakota fire hole technique, this is for you, if you’re not then you’ll need to put the barrel up on cinder blocks with ventilation underneath it, but keep the bottom with holes. However, if you’re doing it the fun way with the fire hole, you’ll need make some alterations that will make life easier once you’re done. LESS CLEAN UP IS BEST!

And to make for less clean up you want the ash and smolders to fall out of the bottom into the fire hole. So to make that possible you’ll need to take the bottom out of the barrel however you see fit to do so. Next, if you have a heavy duty grate or pipes that won’t melt above the heat, you’ll lay those down over the hole.

You might need to dig the pipes into the ground to prevent the barrel from rolling 😉

This way the trash is burned up and the ashes can fall out of the barrel, meaning less corrosion, longer lasting barrels, and most importantly there’s no clean up!

4. Light it up.

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, time to light this sucker up!

Load the dried wood/newspaper in the bottom of the hole or barrel, stack some dense wood on top (american beech, apple, or iron wood), strike the match and let it burn!

Place the trash on top and there you have it folks, in a few minutes your trash that took up a whole trash bag will be reduced to around a pound of ashes. And God is good.

Everything You Should Know About MSW-to-Energy

You know the saying: One person’s trash is another’s treasure. When it comes to recovering energy from municipal solid waste — commonly called garbage or trash— that treasure can be especially useful. Instead of taking up space in a landfill, we can process our trash to produce energy to power our homes, businesses and public buildings.

In 2015, the United States got about 14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from burning municipal solid waste, or MSW. Seventy-one waste-to-energy plants and four additional power plants burned around 29 million tons of MSW in the U.S. that year. However, just 13 percent of the country’s waste becomes energy. Around 35 percent is recycled or composted, and the rest ends up in landfills.

How to burn trash

Recovering Energy Through Incineration

The predominant technology for MSW-to-energy plants is incineration, which involves burning the trash at high temperatures. Similarly to how some facilities use coal or natural gas as fuel sources, power plants can also burn MSW as fuel to heat water, which creates steam, turns a turbine and produces electricity.

Several methods and technologies can play a role in burning trash to create electricity. The most common type of incineration plant is what’s called a mass-burn facility. These units burn the trash in one large chamber. The facility might sort the MSW before sending it to the combustion chamber to remove non-combustible materials and recyclables.

These mass-burn incineration systems use excess air to facilitate mixing, and ensure air gets to all the waste. Many of these units also burn the fuel on a sloped, moving grate to mix the waste even further. These steps are vital because solid waste is inconsistent, and its content varies. Some facilities also shred the MSW before moving it to the combustion chamber.

Gasification Plants

Another method for converting trash into electricity is gasification. This type of waste-to-energy plant doesn’t burn MSW directly, but instead uses it as feedstock for reactions that produce a fuel gas known as synthesis gas, or syngas. This gas typically contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen and water vapor.

Approaches to gasification vary, but typically include high temperatures, high-pressure environments, very little oxygen and shredding MSW before the process begins. Common MSW gasification methods include:

  • Pyrolysis, which involves little to no oxygen, partial pressure and temperatures between approximately 600 and 800 degrees Celsius.
  • Air-fed systems, which use air instead of pure oxygen and temperatures between 800 and 1,800 degrees Celsius.
  • Plasma or plasma arc gasification, which uses plasma torches to increase temperatures to 2,000 to 2,800 degrees Celsius.

Syngas can be burned to create electricity, but it can also be a component in the production of transportation fuels, fertilizers and chemicals. Proponents of gasification report that it is a more efficient waste-to-energy method than incineration, and can produce around 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity from one ton of MSW. Incineration, on average, produces 550 kilowatt-hours.

Challenges of MSW-to-Energy

Turning trash into energy seems like an ideal solution. We have a lot of trash to deal with, and we need to produce energy. MSW-to-energy plants solve both of those problems. However, a relatively small amount of waste becomes energy, especially in the U.S.

How to burn trash

Typical layout of MSW-to-Energy Plant

This lack may be due largely to the upfront costs of building a waste-to-energy plant. It is much cheaper in the short term to send trash straight to a landfill. Some people believe these energy production processes are just too complicated and expensive. Gasification, especially, has a reputation for being too complex.

Environmental concerns also play a role, since burning waste can release greenhouse gases. Although modern technologies can make burning waste a cleaner process, its proponents still complain it is too dirty.

Despite these challenges, as trash piles up and we continue to look for new sources of energy, waste-to-energy plants may begin to play a more integral role in our energy production and waste management processes. If we handle it responsibly and efficiently, it could become a very viable solution to several of the issues our society faces.

Understand how to prevent wildfires from backyard debris burning.

Learn before you burn. When burning yard waste and debris, follow these important steps.

Check the conditions.

Don’t burn when it’s windy or when vegetation is very dry.

Check local regulations.

In your area, a permit may be required.

Burn this, not that.

You can burn dry, natural vegetation, grown on the property, unless prohibited by local ordinances. Household trash, plastic or tires are not good to burn and are illegal to burn in some areas. Check your local ordinances.

Look up.

Choose a safe burning site away from powerlines, overhanging limbs, buildings, vehicles, and equipment. You’ll need at least three times the height of the pile of vertical clearance.

Look around.

The site should be surrounded by gravel or mineral soil (dirt) at least 10 feet in all directions. Keep the surroundings watered down during the burn and have a shovel close by.

Prepare your pile.

Keep your piles small and manageable. Add additional debris as the fire burns down.

If using a burn barrel, make sure it’s made entirely of metal, properly equipped (at least three evenly-spaced, three-inch, screened vents and metal top screen) and in good condition.

Whether it’s a requirement in your area or not, always stay with your fire until it is completely out. Drown the fire with water, turn over the ashes with a shovel and drown it again. Repeat several times.

Check the burn area regularly over the next several days and up to several weeks following the burn, especially if the weather is warm, dry, and windy.

Other ways to be fire-smart at home and on the go

If you live in a wildland-urban interface (where homes meet wildlands), create a 30-foot zone of fire-resistant space around your home and consider using fire-resistant plants and landscaping.

When disposing of charcoal briquettes and ash outside, drown the charcoal and ash with lots of water, stir them, and soak again. Be sure they are out cold.

If someone smokes outside your home, maintain a 3-foot clearing around the smoker. Grind out cigarettes, cigars or pipe tobacco in the dirt, never on a stump or a log; do not throw smoking materials into brush or leaves.

It is also unsafe to smoke while on a trail because you never know where the ash will land. Whether smoking in the car, inside or outdoors, it’s always best to use an ashtray.

Smokey Bear Says.

How to burn trash How to burn trash

Smokey Bear Says.

Did you know that you can design and download your own free Smokey Bear coloring book? Celebrate… https://t.co/6rYJs2MxMx

In 2019,
87% of wildfires were caused by humans.

Everything You Should Know About MSW-to-Energy

You know the saying: One person’s trash is another’s treasure. When it comes to recovering energy from municipal solid waste — commonly called garbage or trash— that treasure can be especially useful. Instead of taking up space in a landfill, we can process our trash to produce energy to power our homes, businesses and public buildings.

In 2015, the United States got about 14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity from burning municipal solid waste, or MSW. Seventy-one waste-to-energy plants and four additional power plants burned around 29 million tons of MSW in the U.S. that year. However, just 13 percent of the country’s waste becomes energy. Around 35 percent is recycled or composted, and the rest ends up in landfills.

How to burn trash

Recovering Energy Through Incineration

The predominant technology for MSW-to-energy plants is incineration, which involves burning the trash at high temperatures. Similarly to how some facilities use coal or natural gas as fuel sources, power plants can also burn MSW as fuel to heat water, which creates steam, turns a turbine and produces electricity.

Several methods and technologies can play a role in burning trash to create electricity. The most common type of incineration plant is what’s called a mass-burn facility. These units burn the trash in one large chamber. The facility might sort the MSW before sending it to the combustion chamber to remove non-combustible materials and recyclables.

These mass-burn incineration systems use excess air to facilitate mixing, and ensure air gets to all the waste. Many of these units also burn the fuel on a sloped, moving grate to mix the waste even further. These steps are vital because solid waste is inconsistent, and its content varies. Some facilities also shred the MSW before moving it to the combustion chamber.

Gasification Plants

Another method for converting trash into electricity is gasification. This type of waste-to-energy plant doesn’t burn MSW directly, but instead uses it as feedstock for reactions that produce a fuel gas known as synthesis gas, or syngas. This gas typically contains carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, methane, hydrogen and water vapor.

Approaches to gasification vary, but typically include high temperatures, high-pressure environments, very little oxygen and shredding MSW before the process begins. Common MSW gasification methods include:

  • Pyrolysis, which involves little to no oxygen, partial pressure and temperatures between approximately 600 and 800 degrees Celsius.
  • Air-fed systems, which use air instead of pure oxygen and temperatures between 800 and 1,800 degrees Celsius.
  • Plasma or plasma arc gasification, which uses plasma torches to increase temperatures to 2,000 to 2,800 degrees Celsius.

Syngas can be burned to create electricity, but it can also be a component in the production of transportation fuels, fertilizers and chemicals. Proponents of gasification report that it is a more efficient waste-to-energy method than incineration, and can produce around 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity from one ton of MSW. Incineration, on average, produces 550 kilowatt-hours.

Challenges of MSW-to-Energy

Turning trash into energy seems like an ideal solution. We have a lot of trash to deal with, and we need to produce energy. MSW-to-energy plants solve both of those problems. However, a relatively small amount of waste becomes energy, especially in the U.S.

How to burn trash

Typical layout of MSW-to-Energy Plant

This lack may be due largely to the upfront costs of building a waste-to-energy plant. It is much cheaper in the short term to send trash straight to a landfill. Some people believe these energy production processes are just too complicated and expensive. Gasification, especially, has a reputation for being too complex.

Environmental concerns also play a role, since burning waste can release greenhouse gases. Although modern technologies can make burning waste a cleaner process, its proponents still complain it is too dirty.

Despite these challenges, as trash piles up and we continue to look for new sources of energy, waste-to-energy plants may begin to play a more integral role in our energy production and waste management processes. If we handle it responsibly and efficiently, it could become a very viable solution to several of the issues our society faces.

How to burn trash

Generally, burning trash at home is a punishable offense in many different communities. However, under certain circumstances, it becomes imperative to burn trash at home, especially if you are living in a rural area with no established means of waste disposal. Before you burn trash, you will need to take into consideration certain safety guidelines and precautionary measures to effectively prevent a hazardous outcome. That being said, burning trash should be be your last resort only after attempts of safe disposal are exhausted.

Things Required:

– Fire barrel or fire pit
– Shovel
– Hose or bucket of water
– Surgical type mask

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Instructions

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Be sure to burn the trash in appropriate weather conditions. You will not want to burn trash in windy or humid conditions because it can be a fire hazard. For burning trash safely, it will be wise to wait for a calm day.

Contact the fire department and make them aware of your intentions to burn trash. Seek their advice to determine if prevailing climatic conditions are safe for burning trash. The fire department will not make an unnecessary emergency run to your home if they are aware of your plans ahead of time.

To prevent the flames from spreading, burn the trash in a fire barrel. If that is not possible for some reason, make a fire pit. Remove any flammable materials such as clutter and weeds from the area surrounding the fire pit or the fire barrel in which you are going to burn the trash.

To cope with a hazardous situation that may arise due to the fire burning out of control, keep a bucket full of water and a shovel nearby.

Closely watch the fire as long as it is burning. When the fire dies out, take care of the coals by pouring water on them. Leave the area only after the ashes properly cool down.

After a recent tour of the Peekskill, N.Y., waste-to-energy plant for a magazine story on its owner, Waste Management, I was left wondering why we didn’t do this more often. That is, burn our trash to make electricity. All of the nonrecycleable trash produced by the 1 million residents of Westchester County, just north of New York City, is incinerated there and the heat produces enough electricity to power 88,000 homes. None of the county’s trash goes to landfills.

Trucks were lined up about 20 deep when I arrived, waiting to dump their trash on what’s called the tipping floor. It was a nasty looking place, but the building is under negative air pressure to prevent the stink from escaping. It worked. Inside, claws that grab 10 tons of garbage at a time pick the garbage off the floor and put it into hoppers. From there the trash is fed into three boilers that burn at 2,000 degrees, heating water to create steam that spins a 60-megawatt turbine. The exhaust is treated at three points, three different ways, to reduce pollutants like mercury and dioxins.

No landfill, electricity from free fuel, reasonable emissions–why don’t we do this everywhere? There are a bunch of economic reasons: These plants require lots of maintenance and manpower because they are dealing with a feedstock that is constantly changing. That makes the electricity somewhat expensive, so where power prices are low, these plants don’t stand to make much money. Another big issue: Land is plentiful in the U.S., and therefore landfills are cheap.

Also, residents and politicians tend to block these things, because people don’t want them in their neighborhoods. But there’s another reason these kind of plants often don’t make sense: We don’t recycle enough in the U.S. “You don’t want to be putting [energy] in a landfill, but you also don’t want to be burning highly refined material that can be recycled,” says Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He’s an expert on solid waste issues and he served on a National Research Council committee that studied the health effects of waste incineration.

He says half of the ash coming out of U.S. waste-to-energy plants is glass and metal, stuff that can be recycled. The average U.S. recycling rate is 32%. In Westchester, it’s 51%, and the Peekskill plant’s manager, Peter Kendrigan, says inspectors are on the tipping floor two or three times a week making sure people aren’t dumping recyclables and handing out fines if they do.

That’s the kind of attention that is needed everywhere, says Hershkowitz, if burning waste to energy is going to make sense. Low recycling rates lead to higher costs for emission treatment technology and neighborhood opposition because residents have no confidence about what’s being burned. To be sure, waste to energy plants can create nasty emissions; Japan has had scary dioxin problems caused by burning trash. But improved (yet still expensive) exhaust treatments have at least made it possible to reduce emissions to acceptable levels.

“You can achieve extraordinarily low emissions if you spend enough [on treatment],” says Hershkowitz. “But you also have to be careful what you put in. In the absence of high recycling rates and good sorting you are going to have citizen opposition.”

There are 87 waste to energy plants in the U.S., compared with 433 in Europe. The New York Times did a nice story on this discrepancy in April. Hershkowitz points out that economic incentives in places like Japan and Europe are different. Makers of packaging have to contribute to disposal, which encourages less waste. Putting waste in landfills is discouraged and even prohibited. And electricity prices are high.

Hershkowitz argues that before the U.S. starts building more waste-to-energy plants, it first needs to invest in materials recovery facilities, known in the industry as “murfs” to separate stuff that can be recycled. “We need a massive investment in murfs,” says Hershkowitz. “Every ton we recycle reduces our need for gas and oil.” Ideally, you put a waste to energy plant next to the murf, so diesel isn’t wasted trucking the trash to be burned around.

Waste Management runs 109 murfs. As we write in our magazine profile of the company, Chief David Steiner is investing in a handful of far-out technologies he hopes will be able to turn trash into more valuable commodities like liquid fuels. But what would help that, said Steiner over lunch recently, and Waste Management’s business, and the planet, is to find technologies that separate our trash better. That makes for higher recycling rates and more homogeneous feedstocks that make conversion — by burning or a more advanced method — easier and cheaper.

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  • Jr. Washington 1665, Cercado de Lima
  • Lima, Peru

If you are unable to locate a distributor in your region/country please contact our team at

About DR ® Power Equipment

Based in rural Vermont, we take great pride in beautifying and improving the place we call home. To help us with our passion for independent country living, we appreciate good tools that are durable, simple and useful.

That’s why, since 1985, we have been manufacturing and selling machines that make outdoor work easier and more enjoyable.