An incinerator bin is a metal box or barrel that contains and allows for the combustion of combustible materials. A well designed garden incinerator bin will have plenty of openings that will allow a steady stream of air which will accelerate and complete the combustion process quickly.
At first glance a garden incinerator bin could be mistaken for a dustbin or waste bin. They need to be made of a solid construction. For the application, they need to be made from metal, usually mild steel, coated with a zinc galvanised outer layer.
What is an incinerator bin? Is it for you?
Most designs of garden incinerator bins are mounted on legs. This is to ensure that air can get plenty of access at the base.
A garden incinerator bin is going to be regularly subjected to the most fierce of nature’s elements, fire.
Although unlikely to achieve white heat, the fire in a garden incinerator bin can achieve very high temperatures. This will happen for the short and intense period when the fire is burning.
The heat will go upwards and, being intense, you need to be aware of anything that may be overhead when positioning a garden incinerator bin.
Some garden incinerator bins have a lid with a short chimney attached. This may be useful if there’s rain falling but most times a lid won’t be necessary. Some have a lid that consists of a wire mesh. This will help to reduce any sparks that incinerator fires tend to emit.
Are garden incinerators any good?
Garden incinerators are very good for getting rid of anything that will burn. They are designed for the purpose. You will find out if garden incinerators are any good the first time you use it. They will reduce combustible waste e.g. paper and cardboard to ashes very quickly.
If you’ve been in the habit of making a heap of rubbish on the ground in the garden and then setting light to it, then, a garden incinerator bin is for you. A heap on the ground will burn but nothing like as any good compared to using an incinerator bin.
Are garden incinerators any good? Yes!
When you burn waste in an incinerator bin the burning material is enclosed and up off the ground. Air can get into the fire from all directions through the air inlet holes that are designed into the incinerator bin.
The enclosure of the incinerator bin unit contains all burning material as it burns. This is particularly useful when burning paper. The problem with an open fire on the ground is that when the wind starts blowing, some of the paper can be blown around when it’s only half-burned.
This wouldn’t be any good if you’re wanting to burn any confidential documents that you don’t want everyone else to see. You don’t want people down the street eyeing up the lower half of one of your bank statements when it blows into their garden.
Garden incinerators are much more efficient at burning away rubbish. They burn at a high temperature for a short period of time. This means that you don’t need to spend too much time loitering around in the garden waiting for the fire to burn away.
Incinerators provide a bonus. It may not amount to very much but every time you load your incinerator and have a burn up, there will be ashes. The quantity of ashes may be quite small. Due to the way in which incinerators work, most of the ash that’s generated will be blown out and away in the wind.
The ashes that you can recover from a burning episode will be useful in the garden. Don’t be tempted to put this in the compost, it won’t do any good or bad, it will just take up room unnecessarily.
Most ashes will contain a high level of potash. Ashes from paper will, sometimes, contain a high level of clay due to the way paper is made. All of this will be good for the soil in the garden.
One of the main reasons why people are attracted to using incinerators is that they can avoid the need for a paper shredder. Shredding of paper is a chore and you have to do something with the shreds as they take up more and more room.
Can I use a garden incinerator in the UK?
You can use a garden incinerator in the UK legally. You will only have a problem if you fail to show consideration to others. If your garden incinerator generates excessive amounts of smoke or bad smells such that it inconveniences others, in the UK, there are laws that can intervene.
Take a look at the official gov.uk website. It states clearly that: ‘There are no laws against having a bonfire, but there are laws for the nuisance they can cause.’
Can I use a garden incinerator in the UK? Yes but don’t be a nuisance!
It goes on to say that you can use a garden incinerator in the UK to get rid of household waste provided you don’t cause pollution or harm people’s health.
It also mentions that there is the option of getting rid of waste by recycling or composting rather than use a garden incinerator to burn it.
There is also reference to the potential hazard that may occur regarding excessive smoke. If you use a garden incinerator and smoke drifts across a road. It could cause an accident. For this, a fine could be expected.
There are smoke-control areas throughout the UK. In these areas you can release smoke from exempt appliances that generate smoke from burning fuel. This includes smoke from chimneys of buildings.
Barbecues, fire-pits, chimineas, pizza ovens and garden incinerators are outside fireplaces. These are exempt from any smoke-control regulations.
How do you use a garden waste incinerator?
- Set up your garden incinerator in position where it’s sheltered from the wind.
- Place dry waste e.g. paper or cardboard, in the empty incinerator. Don’t allow it to be compacted.
- Wear non-flammable gauntlet gloves and eye protection.
- Carefully set fire to the dry waste and be ready to move back as the flames come up.
- When the fire is going well you can add more material.
- Don’t overfill the incinerator. Allow time for material to burn away before adding more.
- Stay with your garden waste incinerator until the fire has gone out.
To use a garden waste incinerator requires some planning. The garden waste that you intend to incinerate needs to be dry. This will reduce the amount of smoke and ensure a speedy incineration. Garden incinerators are designed to produce a high-temperature burn.
This can often result in a considerable amount of flames which can reach up high for a while during the hottest period of burning. You need to take this into consideration when positioning your incinerator. Don’t place it beneath low-level power or telephone wires. The heat may damage the insulation.
How do you use a garden waste incinerator? Use with care!
Don’t attempt using your incinerator on a windy day. The wind can blow the flames around in all directions. Incinerators are off the ground which allows air to easily get at it and thus produce lots of flame. The flames may reach out, touch things and cause scorching.
On a very windy day there is a risk that a garden incinerator will blow over. This could be very embarrassing if the incinerator is full of burning waste.
Most garden garden waste incinerators have a mesh lid. These are designed to stop bits of burning paper from escaping. There will be sparks that will go through the mesh. Some incinerator lids are solid with a short chimney. These are effective at holding in the heat and preventing too many sparks from escaping.
Avoid lighting your incinerator during very dry periods when the sparks may ignite nearby dry vegetation.
Experienced users of garden incinerators report that they use the heat that’s generated for boiling a kettle to make cups of tea. This is something to keep in mind when you know enough about how to manage fire. This could be useful on the allotment.
What can you burn in a garden incinerator?
There are waste materials that you can burn in a garden incinerator.
There are other materials which you may think of burning in a garden incinerator but are better disposed of by other means. You need to look closely at the waste that you have and know what you can and can’t burn.
Most people appreciate the value of having a garden incinerator for burning documents that need to be kept confidential. There are shredders but there’s nothing more decisive than burning beyond any chance of recovery.
The general rule is to only burn combustible materials when they are dry enough to burn quickly. This avoids smouldering and the smoke that comes with it.
What can you burn in a garden incinerator? Paper, sticks & leaves.
There are some materials from the garden that will burn even if they aren’t completely dry provided that there’s a hot fire established in the incinerator.
Let’s look at some of them:
Can you burn weeds in a garden incinerator?
If the garden incinerator is going well and you’re pulling up weeds, then, they can go straight in. They will burn in high enough temperatures even if they are green. There will be some smoke to start with but it won’t last long. Wilted weeds will always burn more easily.
Can you burn leaves in a garden incinerator?
Dry leaves will burn very easily. You could start a fire in a garden incinerator with just dry leaves. Green leaves will burn in a hot fire but there will be smoke. For best results it’s better to allow leaves to dry even if they are just wilted.
How do you burn paper in a garden incinerator?
Sheets of paper and paper products will burn in a garden incinerator. It’s important to prevent layers of paper from being packed together in layers. A stack of newspaper would behave like a solid block of wood. Air needs to get between the sheets. You need to add paper in small amounts to give the fire chance to burn it effectively.
What can’t you burn in an incinerator?
There are a number of items that you can’t burn in a garden incinerator. This isn’t to say that they won’t burn but if you attempt to burn them they may cause air pollution problems. The main material that you can’t burn in an incinerator is plastic.
Some will tell you that if you have a fire going in a garden incinerator that’s burning hot enough, you can burn plastic. This may be true. It is possible to dispose of plastic in a really hot fire.
The thing about plastic is that it must be burned at a high enough temperature to achieve complete oxidation. Anything less and there is a risk of harmful particles being released into the air.
Glass won’t burn in a garden incinerator!
When using a garden incinerator there is no way that anyone can be sure that the correct temperature for the fully oxidising of plastic has been achieved.
It’s better to play it safe and leave plastics out of the incinerator.
Don’t burn off-cuts of wood that have been treated with preservatives. When this burns, chemicals are released from the preservatives. Among the chemicals there is often arsenic. This is good for stopping wood from rotting but if you burn it you will end up breathing it in.
Some people dispose of food waste in the garden incinerator. This may be an option if you have meat-items that you don’t want hanging around in the compost bin. For this you will need a hot fire to make sure that it’s fully disposed of.
Generally, burning food in an incinerator should be avoided unless it’s small quantities that will clearly burn completely before the fire burns out.
You must avoid having partly burned food left in the incinerator when the main fire has gone out. This will cause a smell and attract rodents.
There are lots of items and materials that some people seem to think will burn in a garden incinerator but are better left out. Fabric materials tend to be slow burners and smell but the best one of all, if you really want to be unpopular with all your neighbours, is a pillow full of feathers.