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I Forge Iron

Safery Warnings

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For similar reasons, the company I worked for banned the sale and or taking of empty drums altogether except in return for deposit. Some barrels just don't come clean enough. But if you have one in question and it will hold water, fill it to the brim. Not only will it be less likely to explode, it won't blow over in the wind;)

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Having done and taught Hazardous Material Emergency Response for years, we were always told that the most dangerous container out there was the 55 gallon drum. It can and does contain anything and everything. The labels and markings are usually unreadable or missing and they are usually not cleaned out before they are discarded. They are a bomb waiting for a fuse.

Some people recommend filling them with water, but remember that if a flammable residue or vapor is present and you fill the drum with water and leave any air pocket, which is easy to do, you have concentrated the flammable vapor into a smaller area and probably compressed it slightly. Not a good thing if you happen to cut into that pocket with a torch or burn through with an arc welder.

Additionally a drum that has been thoroughly washed, rinsed and purged can still explode if an O/A torch is used to cut the drum. You can blow enough unburned gasses from the torch into the container as you are cutting it to form an explosive atmosphere.

If you plan on using a used drum for any purpose it is best to wash it out thoroughly and rinse it several times. Then use a drum deheading tool to cut the head out of the drum. The price of the tool is considerably cheaper than a trip to the emergency room or a funeral.


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  • 4 weeks later...

When i first moved into the old shop near Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, Clarence, the old cowboy hobbled into the yard and introduced himself. Asked if i'd known the Evans boys who had grown up there. I said i hadn't.
Clarence said, "well, the younger boy was about 21, on leave from the army, when he drained the water out of an old rusty 55 gallon drum and started to cut the top off with a torch."
Then Clairance sort of squinted and half grinned and said..." Bleeeew 'is head clean off 'im!" And peered at me like he was real interested in seeing it repeated.

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