search  current discussion  categories  forms - misc 

safe 55 gallon drum lid removal - more rambles, philip's mention

updated mon 23 jan 06


pdp1@EARTHLINK.NET on sat 21 jan 06

Hi ( other) Philip,

Well, a disused 'Heating Oil' drum sitting empty with an open Bung for a
year or more, is a whole different Ball Game from one which had contained
MEK, Hexane, Nitrobenzine, (3-Phenoxyphenyl)methyl(+/-)
cis-trans-3-(2,2-dichloroethenyl)-2, or, 2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate;
or, IUPAC: 3-phenoxybenzyl (1RS)-cis-trans-3-(2,2-dichlorovinyl)-2, or,
2-dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate, aka 'Pounce' aka C12 H20 CL2 O2
(permethrin based insecticides)...(I'd hate to get some of those in a
Spelling Bee! - yeeeesh...! )

And, of course, any boy or girl COULD drag home an otherwise nice, neat,
seemingly clean and tidy old Drum or Barrel or Cask which had held this or
something 'like' this...

...or other ( really, endlessly 'other') liquids which can in effect remain
in the proverbial 'pores' of the Metal to come wafting out once some heat is
put to it.

Once you roast the damned thing, all is fine, all is well...

Anyway, variously, these are the Bad-Boys...and the low-volitizers such as
Oils or Kerosenes or most 'Jet fuels' and their specific-gravity-likes or
heaviers, generally would be hard, or harder, to have a problem with... but
if you heated the whole Drum enough, even they could make fumes which might,
or would, ignite.

and of course volatile flammable fumes which are ignited in an enclosed
space, will tend to produce more combustion by-products than that space will
accomidate fast enough, and, so, one splits the Barrel or Tank, and or gets
an 'explosion' maybe, memorable as such.

Too, generally, is a cold day, with a cold Drum, Tank, Barrel or what, all
the Sprarks in the world as themselves, especially outside the container, as
from say, a Cold Chisel getting a glanceing blow from a Hammer, are not
going to do anything. Or even sparks of various kinds sent into the Drum or
what, likely would do nothing.

On a 'hot day', or if the Drum, Tank, Barrel or what, is quite
enclosed...and or if also locally heated with a Torch, then, a spark can set
off whatever volitizeing fumes there may be which ARE being then produced
from the effect of the heat or 'warmth'.

Too, one can smell these things, and if no smell, I myself would suppose, no
present Volatiles are at play.

Still in all, if it were me, I would not use an Oxy-Acetylene torch to cut
or weld on any all-but-sealed Drum or Tank or Barrel, unless I filled it
with Water as near 'full' as can be for the Torch to still work. Of course
if Welding, one needs the place one is welding on to be aligned with
somewhere upward of the Air atop the Water, or you will have problems, at
least with Torch Welding, where you will just be heating Water in effect.

Too, if an old Drum had contained Oxiranemethanamimium, or, more or less,
tri methyl chloride...or, Benzyltrimethylammonium Chloride, or other
insecticides, herbacides, pestacides, fungacides, or their kin, or a whole
ot of other thihngs I never heard of that can be very, very 'nasty', I would
not wish to be cooking those fumes out and breathing them or having them
waft over my exposed skin, even if I did fill almost all the drum with say, beware of 'funny' possibly pungant or spicey smells, and
or stay nicely up wind of them and c-a-u-t-i-o-u-s, if heating old Drums,
Barrels or Tanks of various kinds in welding or Torch Cutting operations...

Which is one more advantage also, of the 'Cold Chisel & Hammer'...where, one
may always roast the daylights out of the old Drum or Barrel 'after', over a
Camp Fire or something to really cook out whatever may be 'in' the 'pores'
of the metal, and without having one's nose right over it.

If your neighbors keel over, then...Oh well...

Or, so, pick the best breeze anyway, according to your wits, if to roast
the daylights out of some old drum that has had it's top cut out that
smells, you know, kinda spicey-funny...


Las Vegas

----- Original Message -----
From: "2ley"

> Well, my hair has gotten a little whiter, now that I read all these
> warnings. I pounded the top off of an old, 55 gallon heating oil drum
> 4 weeks ago. I was lucky enough to not have any problems, I guess. But
> then again, it had been sitting empty and with one of the filling holes
> for at least a year.
> Philip
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "John Rodgers"
> >A further method to reduce flash hazard and explosion is to open the
> > bung and the vent holes, and pressure wash the insides of the drum with
> > hot soapy water from q pressure wand at the local car wash. Just be
> > sure the drum is well drained and it's contents are of a known substance
> > that can be washed out. The detergent will emulsify most oils, kerosene,
> > gasoline, and the like and flush them completely. If the vents and bung
> > are left open, any residual soapy water or plain water should pose no
> > hazard when cutting the top off - especially if you are using a coal
> > chisel.
> >
> Send postings to
> You may look at the archives for the list or change your subscription
> settings from
> Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be reached at