The Best Way to Clean Your Barrel AFTER Burnout!

The Best Way to Clean Your Barrel AFTER Burnout!

So, You finally burned the Liner and Paint off of your Used Barrel...

But now it's a mess!

So, how do you CLEAN UP after your burnout?

With a little elbow grease and a few supplies we can show you how! Watch this video to see how we did it:

Why clean?

Now that you've burned off the inner liner and the outer paint, your used barrel is nearly ready for construction. But, it's important that get at least the inside of your barrel thoroughly cleaned, whether you put a new coat of paint on the drum or not. Some people don't put paint on their drum and that's fine. We just want to make sure your cook is safe and no unwanted stuff seeps into your food.

Let's talk about some of the supplies you are gonna need:



1.)  Water Hose

As with all cleaning you are gonna need a constant water source, so keep that hose handy. Also, make sure you have a good wide area to clean your burnt out drum!

2.) Saw Horse & Wood Slats

Having your barrel at workable height is gonna be important to getting it thoroughly clean. Using a combination of saw horses and some wood slats will help insure you don't have to spend the day on knees, or bent over inside the barrel.


(Also, you can use the wood slats for knocking debris from the drum)

3.) Comet(Or Similar Powder Cleaner)

Getting the refuse off the inner lining of the drum is gonna take a hefty cleaner. Regular soap just isn't going to cut it, so it's important to get a strong, powder based cleaning agent to really get a good scrub.

4.) Heavy Duty Brush

You're going to want thick bristles. We recommend using a Nylon Bristled Car brush, but for the video we ended up using something similar. As we said before cleaning this stuff out is gonna take more than the traditional kitchen soap and rag method, so having a thick, tough brush is gonna come in handy.

(You could even use a WIRE BRUSH if that's all you have, like us in the video)

5.) Scotch Brite Pad

For the exterior of the drum you'll want a scouring pad. This helps to get the final wipe down and remove all the gunk from the outside

6.) Wet Sanding Block(fine grit)

For the tougher parts of the exterior clean, using a wet sanding block can come in handy. It's fine grit is a great tool for getting the outside metal really smoothed out while removing excess grime.

7.) Sand Paper (Coarse Grit)

This can be used with (or instead of) the Wet Sanding Block. It's coarse grit works well for powering through the exterior cleaning and getting that bare metal to really show.



Steps to Clean:

Now that you've got all the supplies let's walk through how to clean the barrel...


STEP 1: Dump Out The Barrel

If you haven't already done so, be sure to flip your burned out barrel upside down. This gets all the left over wood and ash out of the barrel.

STEP 2: Set Up Your Saw Horses and Wood Slats

Using TWO saw horses & TWO wood slats, set up a make shift "table" that you can set your barrel on sideways. You may want to have TWO EXTRA wood slats to slide under the barrel to make sure it doesn't roll off your table.

STEP 3: Set Your Barrel On Table

Place your barrel on the table sideways, with the mouth of the barrel facing in the most down hill direction. As you are cleaning, this will insure that all the water and junk will flow OUT of the barrel rather than pool at the bottom.

STEP 4: Wet the Inside of the Barrel

This makes sure that comet cleaning agent will do it's best work. 

STEP 5: Apply Comet Cleaning Agent

Sprinkle the comet inside the barrel. With the barrel on it's side you can reach all the way to the bottom without contorting your body to extremes. 

STEP 6: Scrub Interior Down

Using your heavy duty brush, thoroughly scrub the inside of the barrel. As you do, you'll start to see a  mud-colored substance start to form.


(We recommend cleaning little sections at a time, so you don't have to work upside down)

STEP 7: Rinse. Rotate. Repeat.

After you scrub, take your hose and rinse away all the gunk. If there's more stuff there scrub again. If it's pretty well clean, then rotate the drum and start a new section. Then you can repeat the process until the interior of the barrel is clean! There may be some debris in there that can be easily knocked off with a wood slate or pokey object.

(It doesn't have to be perfect!)


STEP 1: Set the Barrel Upright

For exterior cleaning, setting the barrel upright works better. You'll be primarily sanding and that works best when you can have your work in a closer range of motion.

STEP 2: Wet the Barrel

It may be an obvious step, but before you wet sand your barrel you will have to actually get it wet. Like before, cleaning in sections is best, so wet only a small area that you can sand immediately.

STEP 3: Sand. Wet. Repeat.

Using your heavy grit sand paper, sand over the wet area of the drum until the heavier bumps and grime are gone. You'll start to notice bare metal coming through. Repeat this process around the whole drum. 

STEP 4: Smooth It Out

If you want to make the barrel really smooth, you would follow up your coarse sanding with the fine grit wet sanding block and scotch brite pad. This all depends on the type of paint job you were going to do after. If you are going for a more professional automotive paint job, the smoother the better. If you are just going to rattle can paint, then you don't have to worry about getting it as smooth.

STEP 5: Rinse

After all your sanding, smoothing and wiping down are done, all that's left to do is rinse it off! Once you've done that you are ready for paint! Of course, your cooker doesn't necessarily need paint, in which case you are ready for your build!


After Burning out your ugly drum you will need to clean it.

The supplies you will need are: Saw Horses, Wood Slats, Water Hose, Comet Cleaner, Nylon Bristled Car Brush, Scotch Brite Pad, Coarse Grit Sand Paper, and Fine Grit Sanding Block. To clean the Interior of the drum, you will set the drum on your saw horse table sideways with the mouth of the barrel facing down hill. Next, your sprinkle the comet cleaner and scrub down the inside with the Nylon Bristled Car brush until you see bare metal.

Rinse it out, then set the barrel upright on the table. Then, you will wet down the barrel and use your coarse grain sand paper to smooth out the rough surface of the exterior of the barrel. After that, you'll use the scotch brite pad and the fine grit sanding block to clean and smooth out the exterior of the drum to your satisfaction. Finally, once you're done with that you can rinse it off. Now you're ready for your paint and/or your build!

(Of course if the process is all too time consuming you can always get a brand new 16-Gauge Smooth Sided 55-Gallon Drum from!)

Good luck on your Smoker journey!


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