How to Make a Barrel Stove More Efficient

In this blog post, I will discuss the benefits of using a barrel stove and how to make one more efficient. In order to do so, we must first understand what a barrel stove is. A barrel stove is an outdoor cooking appliance that uses wood for fuel or charcoal briquettes.

How to Make a Barrel Stove More Efficient

The construction of these stoves varies depending on the type you’re constructing, but typically, they are made out of metal barrels or steel drums that have been cut in half lengthwise with openings at either end for airflow and heat release. 

Now let’s talk about how we can make our existing barrel stove even more efficient. So, this article is for you. You will learn how to make a barrel stove more efficient with just one simple trick!

Step by Step Guide on How to Make a Barrel Stove More Efficient

Step One: Cut a Hole in One Side

Start by marking where your stove pipe will come out. I just put the stove pipe through and marked it with a sharpie. Then using either a larger drill bit or, even better, an angle grinder with a cutting wheel, cut a hole in one side of the barrel at that mark. If you don’t have an angle grinder, you can use a drill or even just a circular saw.

If you’re using a circular saw, set it to the side, so it doesn’t hang over the edge of the barrel. Don’t worry about getting too close or hitting metal on your drill bit or blade. The inner walls of the barrel are not very thick and won’t affect your stove design much.

Step Two: Cut the Barrel

For this step, I used an angle grinder with a cutting wheel to cut through about halfway around the barrel at waist level. If you have multiple barrels, you can stack them to cut through two in one go! Just make sure they’re at least as tall as your stove pipe (mine is about three and a half feet). Once the first cut is done, you can start to pull one end of the barrel off. I used an ax for this part, but that would also work well if you have a crowbar.

Cutaway from yourself! You can’t get the big metal pieces out of the barrel without cutting away at it. Just remember that you can always cut more, but not less! Once enough of the barrel is cut away, you should be able to pull the rest apart. Make sure to wear gloves, though! The edges are sharp and can give you a nasty gash if handled carelessly.

Your Stove Pipe  Will Come Out

Step Three: Fold in the Edges

Now we’ll start to smooth out the edges. I used an angle grinder with a coarse grinding wheel to grind down and remove the sharp, jagged metal pieces. If you have cut off enough of the barrel piece, you should be able to stand inside your barrel stove without any bad scraping or pinching.

If the sharp pieces are still in place, it’s time to cut or grind them off too. You can also use a metal file or even just a small sled hammer to pound the sharp edges down flat. Either way, make sure to be extra careful of your exposed skin. One slip with the grinder can give you a nasty cut. Wear protective clothing and safety equipment if necessary!

Step Four: Cap the Barrel Stove Top

When using wood for cooking or heating purposes, the smoke must get out into the open air. If the smoke builds up inside your stove, it will cause all sorts of problems. To solve this, we need to put a small metal cap on top that can hold up our stove pipe and let the smoke out!

I just took a piece of sheet metal and bent it around the edges using an angle grinder with a cutting wheel. You could also use a hammer and some kind of mental block to get the same effect. The result should be smooth enough so that your stove pipe has no issues sliding through.

Used an Angle Grinder

Step Five:  Create a Hole for the Fire

Inside your barrel stove, we need to make a small hole about half an inch in diameter that will eventually hold our fire. So I just took a drill and drilled it into one edge of the centerpiece until there was an opening. This way, it would be hidden from sight once everything was put together.

I later filled any holes with some mortar to help keep the whole thing together. It also doesn’t hurt to use mortar on the rim of the barrel stove when putting it all together. If you want to find out more about how to make a barrel stove more efficient, keep reading.

Can You Burn Coal in a Barrel Stove?

Yes, you can burn coal in our barrel stove. You would not need to follow the same steps as you would with wood, though. If you would like to burn coal in your barrel stove, fill it up with coal starting at the bottom and do not use any type of “kindling” or starter material like a newspaper to get the coal going.

When you are finished with the coal burning, remove the ash pan and clean it out. The ashes may have picked up some of the loose pieces of paper from the newspaper, but that should not be a problem for you while cleaning out the ash pan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Barrel Stoves Work Well?

In general, barrel stoves work well. They have the advantage of being able to use logs or wood chips as fuel which are typically easier to find than other types of fuel. However, they are not a good choice for cold weather, and they can be hard to control in terms of heat output.

Use Wood for Cooking

Barrel stoves also don’t tend to offer a lot of versatility when it comes to cooking options because they generally cook food in one way (such as on the grill).

Can You Burn Coal in a Barrel Stove?

Yes, you can burn coal in a barrel stove. However, the burning process is not very efficient, and it would be better to use other fuels like wood or propane.

To Burn Coal in a Barrel Stove, You Need to Take Some Precautions Such as:

  • Close the air intake so that no smoke will escape.
  • Install draft control devices to control the air intake.
  • Make sure that there is enough space for coal near the firebox where it will be burned.

How Long Will a Barrel Wood Stove Last?

The life of a barrel wood stove is dependent on the number of hours you use it. A good way to calculate how long your barrel wood stove will last is by multiplying the number of hours you use it in a week by 24.

So, if you used your barrel wood stove for 12 hours per day, seven days a week, then your barrel wood stove would last approximately 168 hours or six weeks.

What Do You Put in the Bottom of a Barrel Stove?

When you put something in the bottom of a barrel stove, it is usually placed on coals or coal ash.

Coal ash contains many minerals beneficial to your health, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and silicon.

You Burn Coal in a Barrel Stove

If you want to make sure the heat goes all the way through the bottom of your stove without burning anything up, then place a piece of steel wool or some other non-metallic item at the bottom.


The tone of the blog is informative. A helpful tip for making a barrel stove more efficient would be to ensure it has enough airflow or ventilation from the bottom and that there are no gaps around where you put your firewood. Another helpful idea would be to make sure you have an appropriate chimney pipe so that smoke can easily go up without being blocked by other objects.

These two ideas will help keep heat inside the stove instead of going out into your home unnecessarily. With some patience and ingenuity, you should find success with these tips! After reading this blog, you should know how to make a barrel stove more efficient.

Check it out also – How to Cap Off a Wood Burning Stove .

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