UPDATED: October 26, 2022

Did you know that you can use 55 gallon drums for several projects, such as a water storage container, compost mixer, planter, and hydroponic system? You can also upcycle it to a chair or nightstand.

Due to their size and materials, new drums usually cost over $150. But you don’t need to spend that amount of money every time you need 55 gal drums.

Since they’re valuable, it’s doubtful if anyone would be giving them away for free. We’ve researched to see if it was possible, and we were glad to be proven wrong. In fact, many places give out used container barrels for free.

You can avoid paying the barrel’s full price, so read until the end. What’s more, you can save up to $80 while finding a source for your projects.

15 Places to Get a 55-Gallon Drum for Free

We’ve listed the top 15 websites and places where you can get 55 gal drums without spending a dollar.

Online Classified

1. Facebook Marketplace

Did you know it's possible to find free plastic barrels on Facebook?

Facebook Marketplace is not only a place for buyers and sellers since you can also score free products through the app. 

Plastic barrels are the most common find on the Marketplace, but if you’re lucky, you can come across other kinds of barrels.

How can you use Facebook to collect free items?

  • Open the Facebook app.
  • Look for “Marketplace” at the bottom of the screen.
  • Tap the search icon located in the upper right corner.
  • Search for free barrels.
  • Select a listing and send a message to inquire about the item.

2. Craigslist

Craigslist shows classified advertisements that you can sort by location. This way, you can easily arrange the pick-up of your newly found drums.

You can also find almost anything on Craigslist, including steel burn barrels. Depending on where you live, you can also get plastic drums without spending any amount.

Here’s how to use Craigslist.

  • Craigslist will immediately redirect to your location. If not, you can try the manual search option by visiting the homepage.
  • Under the “for sale” section, click “free.”
  • After Craigslist redirects you to another page, type relevant keywords on the search bar.
  • Select from the barrels on the search results, then click the ones you like.
  • On the next page, tap the “reply” button located in the website's upper left corner.
  • Choose from “show phone number” or “show email” to contact the person who listed the product.

3. Nextdoor

Nextdoor offers an online networking community for neighbors. Most likely, you can find water drums on this app because they’re commonly used in households.

It also entails a quick way to collect your barrel since the person who listed the item is just around the neighborhood. You can also avoid scammers because you’re dealing with genuine people.

Check out the following steps to score free barrels via the Nextdoor app.

  • Open the Nextdoor app on your mobile gadget.
  • Go to the Nextdoor Finds section.
  • Click the “Free” button at the top of your screen.
  • Choose among the free 55-gallon drums listed.
  • Send a private message to your neighbor who listed the product.

4. OfferUp

OfferUp is an online marketplace where you can find various items, such as plastic and steel drums. There are two ways to make an offer: through a personal meet-up or online chat.

But first, here are the steps to finding your next barrel.

  • Open the OfferUp app.
  • Type what you’re looking for on the search bar located at the top of your screen.
  • Sort the products based on the price. This way, you can quickly see the free drums.

If you choose the pick-up option, you need to personally meet the seller to receive the barrel. 

But if you buy a shippable item, you only need to contact the person who listed the product, then arrange for the shipping method to get your 55 gal drums.

Local Businesses

Aside from websites, you can also request free barrels from different establishments.

1. Drink Manufacturers

Drink manufacturing companies use 55-gallon drums to store their products. You can check the list below for soft drink and juice companies that might offer used barrels.

Usually, you can find plastic barrels from the companies listed above because they receive ingredients in such containers.

You can ask for plastic drums by emailing the companies or filling out the “Contact Us” form posted on their websites. 

It’s also advisable to call them via official phone numbers for a quicker reply. You can also search for their Facebook, Twitter, or any social media pages to send a message.

2. Food Manufacturing Companies

Aside from plastic barrels, you can also get steel ones from food manufacturing companies. They receive ingredients from suppliers through these containers. Here’s a list of companies where you might get free barrels.

There are various ways you can ask for 55-gallon drums. If there’s a nearby factory owned by these companies, you can ask directly from their staff. 

You can also call them or send a message to their social media accounts. You can even send an email or fill out the “Contact Us” form on their websites.

3. Brewing Supply Store

Have you ever wondered where breweries and wineries store their wine-making ingredients? 

They’re delivered in large plastic barrels, which means you can find plastic drums from these establishments.

However, breweries recommend cleaning the container before using it for your projects since there may still be leftover liquid malt.

Did you know that there are almost 9,000 breweries in the US? California has 958 craft breweries, New York has 460, and Mississippi has 444 craft breweries.

We’ve compiled a list of breweries per state, and who knows, one of them might be near you.

BreweryLocation
Good People Brewing Co.Birmingham, Alabama
Anchorage Brewing Co.Anchorage, Alaska
Sante Adairius Rustic AlesCapitola, California
Crooked StaveDenver, Colorado
Dewey Beer Co.Milton, Delaware
Cigar City BrewingTampa, Florida
SweetWater Brewing Co.Atlanta, Georgia
Maui Brewing Co.Maui, Hawaii
Crooked Fence BrewingGarden City, Idaho
Free State Brewing Co.Lawrence, Kansas
Maine Beer Co.Freeport, Maine
Bell’s BreweryKalamazoo and Comstock, Michigan
Big Dog's Brewing CompanyLas Vegas, Nevada
Kane Brewing CompanyOcean Township, New Jersey
Big aLICe Brewing Co.Queens, Brooklyn, and Finger Lakes, New York

4. Car Washes

Car washes receive a massive amount of liquid soap, upholstery cleaner, windshield washing concentrate, and other cleaning ingredients. Since they used to hold soap, clean them before repurposing.

You can inquire from any car wash near you or use a search engine to locate them. Usually, you can find plastic drums from these businesses. You can then use them as water drums.

If the barrels still have the strong smell of soap, ask the staff if they can rinse the containers. If it’s not possible, you might need to put white vinegar inside the plastic drum and let it sit for at least three minutes. 

5. Car Dealerships and Auto Shops

You can look for car dealerships that house a maintenance department since they receive car-related liquids like gasoline and diesel. Also, 55-gallon drums containing oils are delivered to auto repair shops.

However, these containers might still have chemical and oil residues. If possible, you can ask if they can spray out the barrels to ensure your safety. If not, please rinse the steel drums twice before using them.

Here’s how you can get free containers from car dealerships and auto shops.

  • Search either “car dealerships” or “auto shops” around your neighborhood.
  • Visit their website if they have one, or contact them by phone.
  • Inquire if they offer free drums and mention that you’re willing to pick up the container. This way, you won’t be bothering them with any shipment.

6. Insulation Companies

Insulation companies also have steel drums because those are the storage for spray-on insulation. They typically give the barrel for free, allowing them to save on garbage disposal fees.

You might need to clean the drum thoroughly since they may have residues, which might be harmful.

How can you get free containers from these establishments?

  • Search “insulation companies near me” on your gadget’s search engine.
  • Visit their website to know their location or fill out the “Contact Us” form.
  • You can also call them if they have telephone numbers listed.

7. Construction Companies

Construction companies often have metal drums, unlike the establishments mentioned above. They use barrels to store solvents, liquid cement, and other construction materials. Also, these large drums may contain spray-on insulation and different types of paint.

However, some barrels from construction companies contain chemicals and harsh ingredients. 

As a result, some owners or employees are wary of giving away the items. Usually, they’ll remind you to clean the container before using it.

You can call local construction companies to ask if they have extra 55 gal barrels. This way, you can get an answer immediately.

8. Paint Companies

You can get metal drums from paint companies since they ship paint and primer in large quantities. Indeed, they use barrels to store their products.

But, you might have difficulty requesting from such establishments since they deal with chemical-laden products. If you’re lucky enough to get one from them, make sure to wash it thoroughly.

Here are some paint companies you might want to contact to get free containers.

You can easily communicate with them through the “Contact” button on their website. If you want an immediate reply, you can also call them.

9. Industrial Waste Collection Companies

Did you know it's possible to find plastic and metal drums at industrial waste collection companies? Although you can get various kinds of barrels from these establishments, beware of those containing toxic residue.

You can ask the staff where the barrel came from and what it used to hold. This way, you can prevent any health issues from using the drum.

If it once contained chemicals, you can still use it as a burn barrel to dispose of combustible waste and trash.

10. Junkyards

You can find almost any 55 gallon drum on a junkyard, including those made of plastic and metal. Since most things here are unwanted, you might have a tough time looking for barrels in good condition.

You can contact local junkyards to inquire if they have what you’re looking for. Another way to get drums is by personally exploring the station. This might take a lot of your time, but doing this will help you pick the barrel you want.

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You might find someone willing to give away free barrels when you read the classifieds section. You can find free newspapers at local restaurants and libraries. This way, you don’t need to buy one.

If ever you find such an offer, call the person right away and state that you’re willing to pick up the item. This technique will increase your chances of getting free 55 gal drums.

3 Places to Buy Used 55-Gallon Drums

If you weren’t able to score free barrels from the places listed above, you could still get cheap containers from the following:

1. eBay

If you're not willing to pay more than $150 on a new 55 gallon barrel, you can search eBay for used plastic barrels, water storage, and metal drums.

Average Price: $25

Here’s how you can buy it on eBay.

  • Go to the listing of the item you want to purchase.
  • Click “Buy It Now” or “Make Offer.”
  • If you choose “Buy It Now,” you can immediately pay for the product and have it shipped to you.
  • If you tap the “Make Offer” button, you need to wait for the seller’s response. The seller may accept, reject, or counter your desired price.

2. The Cary Company

Since 1985, the Cary Company has been providing containers and packaging, including 55 gal drums. They offer reconditioned barrels in steel and plastic. Since they’ve already repaired the drums, you can expect higher prices, but still lower than the average cost.

Average Price: $79

Here’s how you can buy from The Cary Company.

  • Visit The Cary Company website.
  • Type “55 gal drums” on the search bar located in the upper left corner.
  • Choose the “Packaging & Containers » Drums & Barrels » 55 Gallon Drums” from the instant results.
  • Select the item, add it to your cart, then proceed to check out.

Aside from purchasing through the website, you can also pick up the containers you bought if there’s a warehouse near you. The Cary Company is currently in 5 states with 9 locations, including the corporate headquarters.

  • Addison, Illinois
  • Glendale Heights, Illinois
  • Hayward, California
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Jurupa Valley, California
  • Oakland, California
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Salt Lake City, Utah

3. Home Depot

Home Depot offers home improvement products, including steel and plastic barrels for sale. Since it operates more than 1,900 stores in the US, it’s fairly easy to get a 55 gal drum from this retailer.

You can visit a nearby store or order via the Home Depot website. We recommend picking the barrels on your own to save on shipping fees, which might be costly due to their size.

Average Price: $102

15 Things To Do With a 55-Gallon Drum

There are plenty of things to do with a 55-gallon drum!

Kitchen equipment

It’s best to use steel drums which used to contain food and safe ingredients rather than those that used to hold chemicals and toxic substances.

  1. Smoker grill
  2. Barrel stove
  3. Pizza oven

Outdoor equipment

You can use your plastic drums for these projects, but make sure to clean them thoroughly before putting animal food, water, plants, and other mixtures.

  1. Emergency water storage
  2. Animal food storage container
  3. Planter
  4. Vertical garden
  5. Aquaponics system
  6. Compost mixer
  7. Pond filter
  8. Wheelbarrow

Camping Essential

Did you know you can repurpose a 55-gal drum into a trailer? 

You can also use it to store camping gear and sporting goods. Make sure to use heavy-duty barrels for this project since you’ll be bringing it with you during outdoor adventures.

Home Decoration

Another attractive way to use a 55-gallon drum is to incorporate it into your interiors. You can personalize it to fit your house’s theme. With a splash of paint, you can already upgrade the look of a used drum.

  1. Upcycled chair
  2. Barrel nightstand
  3. Barrel desk

Repurpose Free 55-Gallon Drums

You can create kitchen equipment, outdoor tools, camping essentials, and home decor pieces with inexpensive or free barrels. Aside from saving money, you can also help the environment when you recycle large drums.

You can score free barrels from online sites, like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and OfferUp. It’s also available from food and drinks manufacturers, breweries, wineries, car washes, auto dealerships, insulation and paint companies, industrial waste collectors, and junkyards. Some also found large containers through newspaper ads.

If you know the right places, then you can definitely start various projects with free 55 gallon drums!

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