On an all-girls semi-wild camping trip with one of my best friends and our daughters in 2014 we stayed on a fantastic campsite on the edge of nowhere, Hill Fort Tipis in Pembrokeshire.
There’s an iron-age hillfort on site and only 12 pitches, each with an upcycled washing machine drum firepit! A great idea, I’d never seen one before – much less danger of causing wildfire in the surrounding brush and heather than a standard fire on open ground.
For the next 3 years I positively willed our poor washing machine to break down and finally it has, after 15 long and over-worked years. After all that drudgery it deserved a reincarnation.
Urban Campfire Ideal
A firepit in a recycled washing machine drum is one of the safest ways to have a fire in your back garden. It contains the fire, making it great for small spaces while still providing heat and a cooking space if needed.
Extract the Drum
Wild Daddy was not too pleased when I requested he remove the drum before taking the machine to the tip. It turned out to be a fairly easy job (though I was banned from photography..)
All machines are different. Once you unscrew the top and back the next steps should be obvious.
Alternatively buy a drum on eBay or speak to your local tip if your current washing machine is not ready for a post-mortem drumectomy!
Remove Plastic Parts
The most important step is to remove any plastic from the drum as this could be toxic if it burns. Our drum had three plastic inserts which were easily removed. A quick hammer tap on the outside released the clips allowing the insert to drop away into the drum. Voila!
Ready to Burn
The spindle makes a handy spike to stick in the ground, avoiding dangerous tipping whilst burning.
Find a suitable spot (see my post on urban campfires for safety considerations) and light it as you would for any fire. Find firelighting tips in how to light the perfect campfire almost every time. Then enjoy!
Safety Considerations for Kids
The firepit drum can get very hot so ensure children are aware of this and keep a close eye on them if cooking sausages or marshmallows.
Piling large stones around the outside for as in the campsite photo above helps keep children at a distance but beware as stones can get very hot and explode out from the fire.
That’s it! I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s tried this. We have great fun with ours.
Click for more info on garden campfires, how to light a fire and a scrummy urban cookfire pudding recipe or a good campfire recipe book to try. And if you’ve never heard of them, try Singing Hinnies. Pan-cooked outdoor deliciousness!