A garden incinerator is a useful tool for clearing up garden debris such as leaves, hedge trimmings, twigs, small branches and annual weeds. You can also use your incinerator to safely dispose of personal documents. They are cheaper to buy than shredders and more effective when it comes to destroying private information.
There’s a range of garden incinerators on the market to suit a variety of needs and budgets.
Check out these tips to help you find the best garden incinerator:
Garden Incinerators vs Bonfires
Garden incinerators tend to be a safer and more effective way to get rid of garden rubbish than bonfires.
An incinerator burns at a far higher temperature than a bonfire so you can get through large amounts of waste much quicker with less smoke.
Garden incinerators also contain the fire, which makes them a lot safer to use than bonfires – especially on dry days. Plus, because they are sealed containers, wildlife can’t nest or burrow in them. As a result, garden incinerators are a much more humane and conscientious choice.
Bonfires pose a huge problem for wildlife because animals like hedgehogs often hibernate in the bonfire heap and are killed by the fire.
The ash left inside the incinerator can be used as fertiliser around the garden; the potassium is particularly good for woody shrubs and trees. The ash can also discourage slugs and snails.
Keen composters can also use the ash in their compost bin to help the compost to break down faster.
Different Incinerator Designs
The majority of garden incinerators are made from galvanised steel. Steel is durable and can withstand very high temperatures. Properly looked after, a galvanised steel incinerator should last many years.
Incinerators look like dustbins with holes at the bottom to increase the ventilation. Some are cylindrical and some are square. The shape doesn’t impact the effectiveness too much, but you should ensure the incinerator has adequate air holes to improve combustion.
The shape of the incinerator that you choose it more likely to be dictated by the space you have available in your garden – some square incinerators may slot better into existing gaps in the garden, or cylindrical incinerators may be easier to store.
Incinerators generally come with a mesh top or a lid. If you want to really contain the flames, a lid is a better way to go. A mesh top might be useful if you’re hoping to use your incinerator with dual-purpose as a warming ‘fire pit‘ as well.
Garden Incinerator Capacity
You’ll need an incinerator that’s suitable for the size of your garden as well as the amount of waste you accumulate.
Incinerators come in a range of sizes. The smallest designs have just a 10 or 15 L capacity. Meanwhile, incinerators for larger gardens may hold up to 90 L of waste.
Consider how much garden waste you’re going to be burning, and also what type of waste – leaves will be more compact than clippings and branches.
You shouldn’t rely on the idea of overfilling your incinerator to make it fit everything you want it to – this can be very dangerous and lead to fire spreading. The best thing to do is divide the garden waste into smaller loads if it’s not all going to fit in one go.
Before Using Your Incinerator
Incinerators are generally safe and easy to use, but there are a few things to consider before you get started:
- Don’t overfill your incinerator – as mentioned, this can cause the fire to spread and can be extremely dangerous
- Always have a water supply to hand
- Use fireproof gloves when using an incinerator
- Ensure the fire is completely extinguished before leaving your incinerator unattended
It’s good practice to alert your neighbours before you light your incinerator, and ensure they don’t have any washing out or windows open. Check the rules in your local area before you get started as well – some councils only allow material burning on certain days or between certain hours.
Using a Garden Incinerator Safely
Setting Up the Incinerator
An incinerator is generally quite easy to use, but like anything that involves fire, it can be dangerous. Before getting started, check the regulations and rules in your area, both on whether you are allowed to burn waste and what you are allowed to burn.
To set up your incinerator:
- Make sure it is stable (with legs) and ideally standing on bricks to aid air flow.
- Ensure you’re in an open space; not enclosed and not too close to anything.
- Try to avoid burning in very dry weather as sparks may set light to the grass.
- Wear thick gloves, long sleeves, sturdy shoes and eye protection.
Lighting the Incinerator
To light your incinerator, remove the lid and put some lightly scrunched paper at the bottom, layering some dry wood on top.
Light the end of a roll of newspaper and insert the paper into one of the air holes at the bottom, being very careful not to burn yourself. Allow it to heat up before adding any waste.
Burning Waste Safely
Ensure your incinerator is extremely hot before you add any waste. As stated above, it’s best to first add paper and kindling before adding the waste.
Try to only burn dry materials – wet materials will create a lot of smoke that may disturb your neighbours.
Make sure you have your waste prepared in advance so that you can keep adding things to the incinerator as it burns. Don’t touch any parts of the incinerator as it will get very hot. Make sure you only put the lid on once you have filled the incinerator with your waste.
Never use anything like oil or petrol to get the incinerator going, and never leave the incinerator unattended.
Disposing of Ashes
Always make sure that the incinerator has cooled completely before trying to dispose of the ashes. This can take several days in some cases.
The cooled ashes from your garden incinerator can be used as a fertiliser. They are particularly good for woody plants as they are high in potassium. Ashes will also keep slugs and snails away from your precious plants if scattered around them.
Ashes can also be used for composting. This will help the beneficial microorganisms in your compost bin thrive and break down the plant matter more effectively.
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