I learned to ice-skate on a lake in Connecticut. My father built a warming fire in an old barrel (oil barrel?) and a group of us would skate, warm up, skate, warm up and repeat, for hours.

How does one build a warming fire in an old (oil??) barrel? What are the caveats? For how many fires will the barrel last before losing its integrity? Do people still do this, or does every skateable lake have a warming hut with all the conveniences?

  • 1
    Are you referring to a metal 55g barrel?
    – cr0
    Apr 15, 2016 at 18:42
  • 2
    @cr0 Probably, but I'm not sure. It was a long time ago, and I was a child. It would have been inexpensive and easily obtainable -- and metal -- and the sort of barrel or drum that people used to burn trash in, when/where that was legal.
    – ab2
    Apr 15, 2016 at 18:45

1 Answer 1


A good burning barrel needs holes near the bottom to supply air. A pick axe or a geology hammer works well for putting in the holes. Put most of them between 6 and 12 inches from the base.

Used for burning trash on a weekly basis a barrel lasts for years. If you store it where it is dry, it will last longer, as the alternation of heat and wet causes it to rust faster.

Leave a few inches of ashes in it when emptying. This protects the bottom from the heat of the coals.

If you store it out of the weather during the off season it will last longer. failing that, store it upside down. This will slow down the bottom rusting out.

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