free (or cheap) 55 gallon drums needed

firststring74March 9, 2008

I am interested in 55 gallon drums to make rain barrels and composters out of for my spring projects. Does anyone have a good source in Maryland? I am in Carroll County so I can also go to areas of southern PA or areas in VA. Thanks in advance!

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buffburd(z5 NY)

I don't have a source for 55 gal drums for you but I do have a link to a site that shows how to build a rainwater storage bin out of cement (for very cheap and minimal labor).

This might be the solution if you want a rainbarrel with a little more character.

Check it out below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Ferrocement rainwater storage

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 5:10PM
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paulns(NS zone 6a)

We've gotten a dozen 55 gallon plastic barrels for free from the local water treatment plant. This took a couple of years and the occasional gentle reminder to the manager to save us some empties. The barrels originally held aluminum potassium sulfate, which is used to precipitate solids out of drinking-quality water, and is also an ingredient in baking powder, so although I'm not fond of using plastics in any form in the garden I trust these are okay for collecting rainwater for irrigation.

Thanks for that link Kyle, we've been thinking about building a cement tank.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 5:52PM
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There is a place near me that has black 55 gallon drums. I'm actually picking them up tomorrow.

They held 30% solution of hydrogen peroxide, but have been rinsed out well. The Hydrogen Peroxide breaks down into water after a while anyway. I'm in Bucks County PA. Tell me how many you need if you are interested and I'll pick a few up for you.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 7:03PM
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crabjoe(z7 MD)


I'm in the need of some drums too. Do you know what the drums you get are made of? I know beggers can't be choosers, but I need to make sure bio-diesel can be stored in them.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 7:43PM
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princess_mimi(z5 6 OH)

I've gotten barrels from my local Pepsi bottler. You might check your yellow pages to see if you have one near. Mine sells them for about $10 a piece. They have the remains of syrup in them but are easy to clean out.

Good Luck!


    Bookmark   March 9, 2008 at 8:01PM
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Thanks guys! I have a Coca Cola Bottling Plant in MD I will check out. If not, jessberdinka I will drop you a line to pick up a few for me.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 12:25PM
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You can also look at chemical suppliers that supply stuff for use in food. I got some barrels that held food grade glyserine, they rinse out pretty well. It is also possible to get barrels that had syrup or juice in them for drinks.

Here is a link that might be useful: My garden

    Bookmark   March 10, 2008 at 1:48PM
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gail_ish(5a ON)

My husband used to work for a car rental company. They used to buy windshield wiper fluid by the drum, so you might try them to see if they have any.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 11:15AM
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paulns(NS zone 6a)

Yikes Gail. Doesn't it say on wiper fluid jugs 'cannot be made non-toxic'?

My condolences about the snow by the way.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2008 at 11:58AM
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jesseberdinka - I am interested in your source of free barrels in bucks county. I am looking for some for my local public non-profit community garden. We got some a few years ago from a salad dressing company, but they are now out of business. H2O2 barrels sound good to me! Your "my page" link does not have your contact info so I can't email you! Please contact me, would appreciate it very much.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:22PM
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blutranes(z8 Mid Ga)

I get 55-gallon plastic drums from "Self-Serve Car Washes". Most drums have held soap which should be easy to rinse out. Ask the attendant when they will have empties, they usually don't have a way to dispose of the drums (at least in my area, they don't). I trust this helps in some way...


    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 4:46PM
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you can also check on

The ones local to me (massachusetts) have at least 3 vendors selling used barrels

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 8:47PM
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I need some 55 gallon open head drums,can anybody help
we will buy them.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 12:17PM
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toxcrusadr(Zone 6a - MO)

In addition to all the suggestions above, you could also check local commercial truck wash operations - like at truck stops. They buy detergent in the drums. Most places return them for a deposit (on the order of ten bucks) so they might sell them to you at the same price.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 4:05PM
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Just start checking restaurants and soda distributors and maybe just call up a recycling place and sometimes they resell them after people or companies bring them there to be recycled. I got two this summer from my recycling center. They had maple syrup in them. Smelt good as I was rinsing them out. If you were going to use it for garden stuff I would make sure it's food grade. Plastics can hold a lot of stuff and it could leak out into what ever your using it for.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 4:10PM
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gnomey(7b SC zip296)

I got several for $5 each from a dairy farm.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2008 at 9:08PM
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I am also looking for Free or Cheap 55 Gallon Drums. Some plastic ones for fresh water collection and perhaps some for gasoline. Any suggestions in Southern Connecticut?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 4:35PM
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kiddo_1(NE OH 5)

I'm also getting on this bandwagon. If anyone has any info on sources for 55 gallon plastic drums in Akron/Canton, Ohio area (that I could make into rain barrels) I would appreciate the info. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 5:06PM
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I set up four rain barrels myself this past season. Works great for making the veggie garden grow better, etc. I found mine by mistake as I passed a party rental place. Try e-bay, put "rain barrel" into the search. Maybe there is something nearby you! They become more of a "hot" item as the weather warms... Also search the garden web forum, put "rain barrel" in the search box, and read the interesting stuff there. Paul

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 8:48AM
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val_s(z5 central IL)

RLG - that is an AWESOME set up. I've been trying to figure out how to set up a multi-bin rainwater system, and now I can see how it's done. Great I have "rainwater envy" to go along with my "compost envy" ;-)


    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 9:27AM
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kiddo_1(NE OH 5)

Say, Paul. Do you drain your barrels for winter or is it warm enough where you are so freezing is not a problem?
Kris (also having attack of rain-barrel envy...)

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 10:13AM
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I would strongly suggest draining your barrels before it freezes outside, otherwise they will crack! I am in New York, so yes, by the end of October when I close out the garden, I also empty the rain barrels. If you get any barrels, get the type where the top comes off, not the ones with one or two little capped holes in them, there is no way to get to the inside, let alone the bottom. Disconnect the hoses connecting the barrels, and then you can take the top off, rub the inside with a brush to get the slim off (then they will look like new again), put the tops back on, and turn them upside down until the spring. Obviously, you must address what was directing the water to the barrels. I put gutters on my shed and directed the front & rear leaders to the top of one barrel, in which I cut a hole, and fit a plastic pool skimmer filter into it. That keeps all the junk out! All the water from the gutters dump into the one barrel, then as many barrels as you have after that, are gravity fed. They all will fill equally until full, then the overflow takes over. You can see it in the abouve picture. So I just temporarily connected more gutter leader pipe to direct the water away from my shed until the spring.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 11:03AM
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Hi all -
I'm a ARCSA certified Rainwater Harvest Professional.
I make rain barrels out of both metal and plastic barrels for low-income families through our county Master Gardener program.

Also design and construct ferrocement RWH containments for irrigation, livestock/fish ponds and also for potable use.

Correct on the windshield wiper fluid. It is toxic to microbes and some plants. Do not use for potable water supply. All the other materials mentioned in the thread above are OK.

I obtain a LOT of free barrels from grocery store chains with a food operation (deli). Most of the metal barrels had food-grade vegetable cooking oil in them which washes easily. Metal barrels (drums) don't last as long as plastic, but washed and sprayed inside and out with plasticized 'paint', do last many years and easier to locate replacements. If you don't have a cutting torch, drill a hole in the top at edge, then use a metal blade in a jigsaw to cut out the entire top. Replace with plywood top cut to fit, sealed with caulk at cut edges, then painted. Plastic barrels usually had juice concentrate for making the store brand of juices. Since I make tops for metal barrels, I make 'em for plastic barrels too, so I cut the entire top out of plastic barrels too. Makes cleaning and installing fittings SO much easier, too.

All of the other suggestions for finding free barrels in previous posts are good options too - and learned a couple I hadn't considered before. Many thanks, folks.

Also obtain some barrels from large restaurants who purchase their cooking oils by the barrel.
Contact local business Managers for information.

Rain collection barrels should have an 80-mesh (window-type) screen over a large hole in the top. Successively-attached barrels don't, but should be air vented without allowing bugs/mosquitos in them to breed. Spigots are a good way to attach successive barrels. Many other ways.

Regarding ferrocement (metal reinforced concrete) containments: There's a fairly new method y'all might not have heard about, using dry-stack 8" x 16" (and half-block) cinderblock, bags of concrete, and a product called Quikwall SBC ( to seal the otherwise porous cinderblock. Also used to damp-proof house basements.

A SBC-sealed water containment can be any size square or rectangular width/length and height up to 16 feet - above or below ground.

Best part is, even a large containment can be constructed as a ONE-PERSON DIY project without time limit and at low cost.

If you want more information about this containment construction method, make a new post titled Cinderblock RWH Containment to request info, and I'll respond.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 5:44PM
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kiddo_1(NE OH 5)

Robert, I sure would be interested to read that thread, although the project sounds 'way more than I would need here for runoff from my 10x14' shed. Yet I'm intrigued that it is 'dry stack', no mortar....

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 6:56PM
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Let's see if somebody will start a new thread - but you can read all about the SBC product at the link below.

What do you use to catch rainwater off your shed?
Are you really limited to shed roof for runoff?
The ground is the best source of rainwater catchment, particularly if you have a low-lying area of ground that holds water after a rain event. Digging a hole in the ground and installing a liner of any type is still the most efficient and cost-effective method.


Here is a link that might be useful: Quikwall SBC Info

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 7:54PM
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I got one from my organic gardening center. They mix their own nutrients and sell the the empty drums for 10 bucks. They also sell the pre-made ones for 150 bucks (rip off)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 6:55AM
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kiddo_1(NE OH 5)

Robert, I started a new thread "Rainwater collection - best methods". Perhaps you might post the cinderblock containment method.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2008 at 11:58AM
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I am the Business Development officer for Western Recycling TEchnologies in Southern California. I have countless drums for sale reasonably. You can contact me at 502-320-8565.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 6:19PM
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I am still looking for free 55gallon drums in LA/OC area (Los Angeles/Orange County area).

If know where I can get it for free in that area. Let me know.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 2:00PM
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tribalwind(z7 NY, li)

I am looking for 25-50 barrels in Long island, NY
any leads would be appreciated!
large multi-home community-garden/csa /yard-share/ Decentralized urban farming permaculture project underway ~
Matt at tribalwind dot kom
five-16 582 eight 331

    Bookmark   March 11, 2011 at 11:00PM
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Looking for cheap/free 55 gallon plastic drums in Poconos or Lehigh Valley areas of PA.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 1:24PM
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