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Oil drum cutting

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  • Oil drum cutting

    I'm looking to make some cuts in a 55 gallon oil drum and I'm trying to avoid getting blown up.

    First of all the drum is closed end with two bungs (one large, one small). From what I can tell it had almond oil in it before I picked it up. There is some remaining oil in the bottom.

    I want to cut a door in the side of the drum and turn it into a bbq. I'm probably going to use abrasive cutoff disks in my angle grinder so there will be a lot of sparks and I'm worried about igniting the oil in a confined space.

    Does anyone have any advice for cleaning the barrel out or any other suggestions for how I should go about doing this? Thanks.

  • #2
    Does anyone know what the flash point of almond oil is?

    Once you figure out if the oil is flammable, then we can tell you better how to do it. I really don't know if it is flammable or what the risk of explosion may be.

    When in doubt, don't do it.

    Look for alternate methods such as a sawsall or a jig saw.

    Sorry I can't be more help but I know nothing about the properties of almond oil and I'm not willing to take a guess when there is a risk of injury involved. Dave

    Comment


    • #3
      I'd empty it and steam it out if I could. If you can't steam it out, Dawn dish soap is a good oil cutter.

      Another option is to take it to a car or truck wash and have them clean it out for you.

      You could also purge it with Co2 or another inert gas (Argon may be kinda expensive though).

      I wouldn't use car exhaust due to the possibility of unburned fuel.

      Clean it 'till you feel safe cutting it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Will steaming work on a heavy oil like this? I'd imagine the idea of steaming it is to drive out the volatiles.

        I poured a little of the excess oil out and it is quite a bit like olive or canola oil. It won't light on fire by itself but when I soaked a napkin in it it burned. It doesn't seem very volatile. From the MSDS the flash point is >400F.

        I think I might try the dish detergent idea.

        Thanks for the suggestions.

        Comment


        • #5
          Here is an MSDS sheet for Almond Oil. It has a flash point of 400 degrees so I dont think you want to torch it.

          http://www.essentialoil.com/msdssalmond.html

          Comment


          • #6
            i just cut a 10w30 55gal drum like that. used my plasma cutter. i just filled it up with water and made the cut, no problem. lay it on its side so the big hole is up and fill it to the cut point and cut.

            well it worked ok for me any way. although it may not be the best option. but cold oil, cold water, hot plasma cut, no problem. dish soap will take enough out to not have a problem i suspect. that stuff cuts oil great.

            Comment


            • #7
              Just for the uninitiated in the group- I had a barrel that had solvent in it, knew it was flammable. Left it sit outside both bungs open, protected from weather. Sat a year, poured in about 1 1/2 gallon of water in it. Cut off 1/2 of top with stick welder. No smell or fumes cut remaining half off, when I got to about 1/2" from end heard a sound like sparklers going off, lifted helmet and seen sparks shooting out like a Roman candle, Thinking thats COOL, then barrel gave a big POOF and stopped sparking, just had a restroom break so being "empty" was a good thing. Problem? Pile of dust in barrel and with cutting and hot metal falling in dried up the water enough to start chain reaction. Next time more water.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mcostello View Post
                Just for the uninitiated in the group- I had a barrel that had solvent in it, knew it was flammable. Left it sit outside both bungs open, protected from weather. Sat a year, poured in about 1 1/2 gallon of water in it. Cut off 1/2 of top with stick welder. No smell or fumes cut remaining half off, when I got to about 1/2" from end heard a sound like sparklers going off, lifted helmet and seen sparks shooting out like a Roman candle, Thinking thats COOL, then barrel gave a big POOF and stopped sparking, just had a restroom break so being "empty" was a good thing. Problem? Pile of dust in barrel and with cutting and hot metal falling in dried up the water enough to start chain reaction. Next time more water.
                Exactly why I said "when in doubt don't do it".

                Even when you think it's O.K., it just might not be. I have cut many a barrel and propane tanks open and know many safe ways to do it. I was not going to give someone unexperienced advice on how to do it. You happen to be lucky things didn't go much worse for you.

                I will say it again, If you are not absolutely sure of what you are doing, don't do it. Leave it for some one who does.

                Comment


                • #9
                  the tc 9-237 has a section on cleaning fuel tanks for repair might give some ideas

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The proper way to cut open a drum without any chance of injury is to find some numbnut that just got a plasma cutter and ask him to impress you.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      cheap is better

                      i believe the best way to cut open an oil drum is to use some method that doesnt create sparks. I always cut them open with my cheapy little harbor freight air powered sheet metal shear. All it requires is a quarter inch pilot hole and an air line. very neat very clean and in some cases the oil in th drum helps the cut move a little faster. Ive made probably a hundred Q pits out of 55 gal tranny fluid drums and havent had one explode yet.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for all the responses.

                        No sparks sounds like a good option. I don't have an air shear (I'd love to get one though) but I do have a jigsaw. I don't suppose that would be 100% spark free but I think after a good wash out with oil cutting soap it will be plenty safe.
                        Thanks again. I'll be sure to post pics when it's up and running.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          mill3rman3 lets see some pic's. i got a few barrels to play with.
                          jonsam
                          I don't have an air shear (I'd love to get one though)

                          you could get a cheap nibbler at HF for this as the barrels are thin it should be fine. i got one that runs off a drill that has cut much thicker stuff.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            When cutting vegetable oil drums....

                            I, like yourself, needed to cut open an 55 gallon drum that contained vegetable oil (soybean oil in this case). Here is some of the pertinent information I gleaned reflecting what is mentionned on an MSDS sheet for Soybean and almond oil.

                            First you need to know what is the flash point
                            The flash point of a volatile liquid is the lowest temperature at which it can vaporize to form an ignitable mixture in air.
                            For soybean oil, it's 367 F (186 oC) and almond oil, it's greater than 400 F (204 oC)
                            (Compare this to 122 F (49 oC) for WD-40 - you'll hit the flashpoint on a scorching summer day)!!
                            Thus, if you are planning on cutting an veg-oil drum in which the oil is heated to at least 367 F, it is likely that volatile vapours will be generated and that sparks could very well cause an explosion.

                            "Sparks can reach temperatures between 520 to 570 degrees C, and in the
                            case of steel, they are capable of reaching
                            temperatures up to 1400 degrees C." From...
                            knowledgeweb.afac.com.au/__.../HAZMAT_Articles_Welding_Sparks_and_Fire.pdf

                            With arc welding you'll likely generate temperatures of 6000 degrees celsius, with oxy-acetylene, about 3000 degrees celsius.


                            As is obvious from the comparison mentionned earlier, vegetable oil, is not as easily combustible in normal conditions as WD-40.
                            However, as we have seen from the information provided above, if the conditions are right, you could set off an explosion, yes, even with vegetable oil. (A student just died in a oil-drum-cutting exercise at a local highschool in Ottawa, Canada. I can't speculate, but from the information, this is not an accident, but a preventable occurence.)

                            What I did to ensure the dangerous conditions were not met while cutting my vegetable oil drum were as follows..

                            Pour out any remaining oil and discard it appropriately.
                            Wash the veg-oil out with dishsoap and warm water (once or twice)
                            Rinse several times.
                            Cut-pilot holes with drill
                            cut out desired shape with a Reciprocating saw (little or no sparks).
                            Presto! you have your cut out veg-oil drum.
                            I have even welded on such a prepared drum as well without incident.
                            (But there was no oil to create vapours + the vapours would not have been confined as there was a gaping hole in the drum at this point)
                            But again, I stress that this was with what I believe to be a properly prepared metal container that did not contain an extremely volatile liquid in the first place.

                            Everything changes if you are dealing with something other than vegetable oil.
                            Figure out how to do it properly or don't do it at all.

                            Thanks, I hope this has helped someone.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Flash point of almond oil

                              Originally posted by dabar39 View Post
                              Does anyone know what the flash point of almond oil is?




                              Once you figure out if the oil is flammable, then we can tell you better how to do it. I really don't know if it is flammable or what the risk of explosion may be.

                              When in doubt, don't do it.

                              Look for alternate methods such as a sawsall or a jig saw.

                              Sorry I can't be more help but I know nothing about the properties of almond oil and I'm not willing to take a guess when there is a risk of injury involved. Dave
                              From the online MSDS sheet, it appears that the flashpoint of almond oil is near of greater than 400 F (204 degrees Celcius). I hope that helps!

                              Comment

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