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How to Build an Incinerator to Burn Paper Documents

Tatyana Ivanov

Destroying documents and papers with personal information can protect your privacy and prevent identity theft. While there are many ways to destroy paper documents, a homemade incinerator will allow you to burn a large number of documents at once.

Many states and counties have laws about outdoor incinerator use, so always check with your local police department before building or operating a homemade incinerator.

  1. Cut the top off the steel drum using your steel cutter and set it aside. Hammer any jagged edges that remain into the inside of the drum.

  2. Cut three holes from the top body of the oil drum. This will allow the incinerator fire to receive the oxygen it needs to keep it burning. Turn the drum over, so that the closed bottom portion is up.

  3. Drill two metal holes at the same place on each side of the center of the drum. Insert one metal rod through each of the holes and pass them through to the hole on the other side. This will serve as the platform for the incinerator. Drill four holes on each side of the barrel just above where the rods pass through. This will allow for air intake.

  4. Drill several holes into the top of the oil drum that you cut off. These holes will serve as a grate to pass ash through the platform, so drill enough to allow this.

  5. Cut half the bottom of the oil drum off and remove it. The bottom of the drum will actually serve as the top of the incinerator. Drill holes on each side -- on both the piece of drum you just cut off -- and the piece still attached to the oil drum.

  6. Thread the wire loops through each of the holes you just drilled to reattach the removed piece of drum to the piece still attached. This creates a hinged door that swings open, allowing you to insert paper to burn.

  7. Insert the portion of the drum you removed from the top and rest it on the rods to finish the platform. Place the drum on bricks before using it.


Check with your local authorities about regulations regarding incinerators before building or using your own incinerator.

Always use caution and wear appropriate safety gear when drilling and cutting metal.

Do not leave incinerator fires unattended.