12 Drum BBQ Tips: Your Guide To Ease Your Drum BBQ Experience

Drum BBQ Tips

Drum BBQ is also known as the poor man’s BBQ or the ugly drum smoker. It has been used by many for a very long time. As days passed, people have realized how important this is and how handful this can be.

Barbecue grills or also known as smokers built from fresh or repurposed oil barrels, are known as Drum Barbecues, Ugly Smokers, or Barrel Barbecues. The sizes of the drums range from 42 to 96 US gallon drums. They are perfect for grilling meat because they use charcoal as a source of fuel.

There are many benefits of using the drum BBQ. Here In this article, I will be showing you tips regarding how to make a drum BBQ. So, buckle up and prepare your reading gear. The ride is about to start!

12 Drum BBQ Tips To Kickstart Your Drum BBQ Journey:

There are some steps that need to be followed to get that perfect drum BBQ. Here in the article, I will share 12 tips and tricks to help you smoothen your drum BBQ journey. The steps are as below:

1. Collect The Things You Will Need:

The first task is to collect the items required to make the drum bbq. I will be mentioning the things underneath that are needed to make the drum BBQ:

  • An old or new Oil drum;
  • Hammer;
  • Engineers Square
  • Ruler;
  • Angle Grinder;
  • Drill;
  • Selection of drill bits;
  • Tape Measure;
  • Permanent Pen;
  • Mild Steel Box Section;
  • Hinges made of steel;
  • 6mm Mild Steel Round Bar;
  • Gloves and safety glasses;
  • U-shaped safety edging;
  • Box Section Made of Mild Steel;
  • Gloves;
  • Safety glasses;
  • Coach hook made of chrome;
  • BBQ paints;
  • Temperature control on the grill.

2. Getting The Drum Ready With An Expert:

The second tip of the drum BBQ tips is that you need to prepare your oil drum. You need to get it ready for the BBQ session. Before you get down with your business, check if the drum is prepared or not. If there is any remaining oil or residue of any substance left on the outside of the drum, that might cause a hazardous situation later.

In my opinion, not everyone is an expert doing this stuff. Also, a newbie cannot understand the difference or if there is anything left on the outside of the drum. Someone new at this cannot comprehend the consequence of leaving any materials in the drum.

That is why the tip I will be giving is to take the expert’s help to get your drum ready. It will not only be convenient for you but also the chances of making any mistake will be lessened.

3. Take The Paint Off From The Old Drum:

In drum BBQ, an old drum is usually used to make a BBQ barrel. Sometimes I use a new barrel. I just store the oil elsewhere and make sure to clean it thoroughly. For my next drum bbq tip, I would be sharing that you need to take the paint off from the drum you are going to use.

You’ll need the angle grinder’s paint removal disk for this procedure. You may also use a drill with a wire brush attachment. For this, you will need to:

  • Wear a mask that will help you cover your face.
  •  Place the drum in a suitable place.
  • Start stripping the paint off the oil drum after placing it in a sturdy area.
  • Start stripping the paint off the oil drum by placing it in a sturdy area. It’s recommended to take the extra time to ensure that all of the color paint is eliminated, or else, when heated, it will create a bubble-like texture, destroying the final paint finish.

4. Making The Lid: 

The lid in a BBQ is the most essential part. So stay focused on this drum BBQ tip to get the most out of it. If you wonder why you need to make a lid for your grill, then let me tell you that the lid helps to cook the BBQ in the most effective way. 

The cover or lid helps to control the temperature of the BBQ. It is considered one of the most vital parts of a conventional BBQ grill. So while making your drum BBQ you need to pay extra attention to this part.

To make a lid on your drum, you’ll need:

  • Angle grinder;
  • Marker pen;
  • Ruler;
  • Engineer square;
  • Cutting disk.

First, take the marker pen, ruler, and engineer square to draw the lines of the lid on the oil drum. Then, cut according to the marked edges with the cutting disk. 

5. Cleaning The Inside Of The Oil Drum:

I have already discussed cleaning the outside portion of the oil drum. As I have mentioned above, to make the paint stay and make it safe, the outer part of the oil barrel needs to be cleaned.

In the case of the inner part of the drum, it is also crucial to clean thoroughly. Mainly for 4 reasons:

  • To avoid explosions from the residue.
  • To avoid thick black smoke emerging from the leftover oils while cooking.
  • To make the paint stay on.
  • To make the paint surface’s texture smooth.

This drum BBQ tip will be helpful to you for removing the greasy remains. To remove the residue oil or any kind of grease, you can use any of the methods mentioned below:

  • First, clean the barrel with heavy-duty dishwashing soap. I would recommend useing liquid ones.
  • You can also try burning down the oils. But it is not thoroughly effective, in my opinion.
  • After burning down the excess grease, you can use a degreaser to clean perfectly. 

6. Attach The Lid Of The BBQ With Hinges:

You might be wondering what I mean by attaching hinges with a lid.  Generally, we use a lid over a grill which we often open and close. That is why for convenience, you need to put hinges on your drum BBQ cover.

For this, you will need:

  • A marker pen;
  • A drilling machine;
  • Hinges;
  • Screws/ nuts and bolts.

The procedure to attach the hinges is as below:

  • First, take a permanent marker and mark the place where you want to attach the hinges.
  • Place the lid on them to check if the placement is correct.
  • Use a drilling machine to punch holes in the drum.
  • Place the nuts and bolts and fix the hinges there tightly.

7. Fix A Place To Keep Your Drum Steady:

This is one of those drum BBQ tips that people tend to overlook and regret later on. That is why being an expert in the BBQ arena, and I would give you the following tips. Keep reading to get the most of the drum bbq tips!

Always use a secured place to keep your drum. There are a lot of activities to do with the oil drum, like:

  •  Cleaning;
  • Painting;
  • Cutting;
  • Drilling;
  • Fixing.

And many other things to make a perfect drum BBQ.

As we know, drums are usually round-shaped objects which do not stay in one place for gravitational reasons. It becomes quite a hassle to keep it steady while working on it. For such a reason, you can try to follow the methods that I am going to talk about now:

  • Making a Stand:-You can make a stand to keep the barrel when you do all the necessary work.
  • Keep Bricks Beside Both Sides Of The Barrel:- if you are not able to make any stand or cannot find one near you, you can always improvise. You can use bricks as a support system for the drum.
  • Keep Rubber Tyres Beside Both Sides Of The Barrels:- if you are unable to find bricks, you may use rubber tires. Their grip will help the barrel to stay in one place.

8. Choosing The Best Drum For Your Drum BBQ:

People often tend to overlook the fact that you need to be picky while choosing what and how your barrel will be. They forget that it is the fundamental thing required to make a drum BBQ.

That is why I will now share this tip of choosing the right drum for your drum BBQ. 

There are a few types of oil drums that are ideal for a drum BBQ and will get you the best result. Those are:

  • Drums that are unlined;
  • Open headed drums;
  • A drum made of cold-rolled carbon steel;
  • Reinforced and straight-sided drums;
  • Rust free drums;
  • Drums that have no hole in them;

These are some of the types of drums that you can choose to make your own drum BBQ. 

If you are not confident enough that you can choose the perfect drum for your drum BBQ, go for the expert’s advice. There are many experienced people who can help you out selecting the ideal drum. This will ease your job, and you will get the best results.

9. Use Charcoal For Fuel For The Best Result:

Wondering which fuel to use while using the drum BBQ? Then, this tip is just for you. To find out what advice I will be unrolling now, keep on reading.

There are many kinds of fuels available that you can use to barbecue in your drum BBQ. Such as:

  • Has;
  • Electrical coil;
  • Charcoal.

Charcoals can also be of various sorts:

  • Lump Charcoal:-This type of charcoal is made through carbonization and is pretty popular. They burn pretty quickly compared to other charcoal.
  • Charcoal Briquettes:– These are cheap, and they burn pretty slow, unlike the lump ones. 
  • Hardwood Briquettes:– They are made of hardwood and not as famous. They burn very slowly.

Among all the other fuels, I prefer charcoal the most. It is also the most commonly used drum BBQ. It gives off the best smokey flavor and cooks the meat perfectly. You can surely use other fuels such as gas or electric, but no other fuel can give off that classic taste like charcoal does! I prefer charcoal for the unique smokey flavor it gives off.

10.  Keep The Drum BBQ Clean:

You must be puzzled and wondering why I am talking about cleaning again! Well, if you look closely, you might get your answer yourself. Here I will be focusing on the aftercare or keeping the hygiene of your drum BBQ.

Previously in this article, I talked about cleaning the outer portion as well as the inner portion for safety purposes. This drum BBQ tip is mainly focused on the hygiene section. This means here I will be talking about keeping your drum BBQ clean thoroughly throughout the year.

It is known to all that it is vital to keep your BBQ grill safe and clean. Things you need to keep in mind before or while cleaning your drum BBQ:

  • Drum BBQs are prone to get oily and greasy fast.
  • They can catch bacterias fast.
  • They are big in size, so you need to spend extra time cleaning them. 
  • Some parts may get missed as the area to clean is big. This might ruin the grill.
  • They can catch molds pretty quickly due to over-greasiness.

Keeping the things mentioned above in mind, you need to keep your drum BBQ clean. If you skip cleaning your drum BBQ, you might face some hygiene-related issues that will cause you health issues in the long run.

11. Using Metal Utensils For Your Drum BBQ:

After you are done making your own drum BBQ, now comes the question of: how will you cook on it? What utensils are you going to be used? With this tip, I will try to answer your queries in a simple manner. So, keep your eyes focused!

The best utensil to use on your drum BBQ should be metal utensils. These can tolerate high temperatures and cook really well on grills. Woods can burn, and plastic ones will surely melt away. Drum BBQ can get very high in temperature. That is why metal utensils are ideal for such types of BBQs.

From the above discussion, it is clear that you need to use metal utensils while cooking on your drum BBQ, but what about the accessories or tools? For example, spoons or spatulas. Well, they are also a part of the utensils. My tip here for you would be to use wooden spoons or spatulas. Or else the metal utensils can get ruined.

12.  Taking All Your Safety Measures:

When you are done setting up your desired drum BBQ, comes the time to jump into cooking. But during the whole process, a very important issue pops up. That is your safety concern. As we have said in drum BBQ, we use an oil drum to make a grill. It can be very risky to use at times.

So, you need to be extra cautious. You need to be alert to stay safe. For that, you will have to be mindful of a few tips that I am going to share now. To maintain safety while barbecuing in a drum BBQ, you will need to follow the steps mentioned below:

  • Always Wear A Face Mask: 

A face mask is an inseparable part of cooking. To maintain basic food hygiene as well as save your face from heat and oil, wearing face masks is a must.

  • Never Forget Your Gloves: 

Drum BBQ is a kind of BBQ that is big in size and gets very hot. That is why it is imperative to keep your hands safe. Not to forget the hygiene issue here. 

  • Keep A Safe Distance From The Grill:

The drum BBQ can get flaming hot, so keep a safe distance while cooking. Especially when you are about to put the food or take it out, keep yourself in enough space. 

  • Beware Of The Sharp Edges:

Drum BBQs are made of drums which is a form of tin cans. Like it is known that it has sharp edges which can cause accidents. Be careful of these edges. 

  • Keep The Children Away:

Children often don’t understand the risk of going near the BBQ grill. It is up to the adults to look after them. The same goes for your pets too.

  • Place The Drum BBQ Somewhere Safe:

Keep yourself and your neighborhood safe from fire by placing the drum BBQ in a safe place. For example, do not place it right under a tree or near your neighbor’s house.

Related Questions:

Where To Put The Charcoal On a Drum BBQ?

Where to put the charcoal is a frequently asked question by many people around the world. As people are not much known to the term drum BBQ, they often get confused about the whole process. I will try to help you in a more straightforward manner.

First of all, you need to make sure you have collected your preferred charcoal. As I have already mentioned in the article, charcoal is the best among all fuels. But to choose which charcoal you are going to use is up to you.

To put the charcoal in your BBQ:

  • Firstly set your BBQ in a safe place away from all hazardous stuff. 
  • Then, take the grill out of the BBQ and safely set it aside.
  • After that, take your bag of charcoal and put them evenly on the BBQ.
  • You can put some paper in the middle to increase the heat.
  • Then lit the charcoal and put the grill back on.

This is how you put your charcoal on your drum BBQ.

How To Clean Your Drum BBQ In An Effective Way?

Don’t let the size of a drum BBQ scare you! I have discussed how crucial it is to keep your drum BBQ clean and what might happen if you neglect this duty of yours. So now let me show you ways to clean your drum BBQ:

  • Use Bleach:

We all know bleach for its superpower to clean almost everything and anything. It is one of the most powerful natural cleaning agents available. It is a common household product. 

Fill one-fourth of the whole drum with warm water, and then mix an entire bottle of bleach with it. Let it sit overnight. Rotate it a few times in between. Then the next day, remove the bleach solution and rewash it with clean and fresh water a few times.

  • Use Vinegar:

Another natural ingredient that our parents or grandparents use to clean our household stuff is vinegar. It is a mild natural substance that is available at every home. It is a natural acid.

Fill the drum with one-fourth part water, a box of baking soda, and a bottle of vinegar. Then let it sit for at least 12 hours. The next day, wash it with clean water to remove any leftover cleaning product. Also, don’t forget to rotate the drum in between.

Do You Need To Keep A Bucket Of Water Beside While Cooking On A Drum BBQ?

I have already talked about all the safety measures that you can take while cooking on a barrel BBQ. Yet, a question remains among people: do they need to keep a bucket of water with them if the fire breaks out? Let me clear this argument for you.

Oil drum BBQs can be very risky to handle, especially if you are a newbie. Getting scared is all-natural, a basic human instinct. Sometimes things can go south. If you feel the temperature is getting out of hand and a minimal amount of fire is about to break out, you can always throw the water from the bucket to the grill.

If a fire breaks out and it seems that the amount is scary enough, you should never put water into that fire. It may even increase it. That is why I always recommend keeping a fire extinguisher with you while cooking. It is the safest option available.


To conclude everything that has been said in this article, drum BBQ is not seen commonly. Although it is cost-efficient, it takes a lot to make one all by yourself. I would prefer to buy one from the store.

Wilson C. Scully

Hello everyone, This is Wilson C. Scully. I'm likewise you. However, the main difference is that I like to share my kitchen and cooking experience with you.

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