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Thread: DIY Barrel Evaporator Build (Detailed)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2018

    Default DIY Barrel Evaporator Build (Detailed)

    Iím new to sugaring, and MapleTrader has been a great resource, so I figured Iíd add my experience in hopes it will help someone the way so many posts have helped me.

    Build take one: Bought a 55 gallon drum from craigslist; burning paint smelled awful, wonder if it was carcinogenic.

    Take two: Bought an unfinished 55 gallon drum from local company. Used a six-inch deep steam pan. Only evaporated one gallon per hour Ė WAY too slow. Lots of soot around pan, probably because I cut the hole a little too big. Burn created tons of coals in the arch.

    Take three: From the ground up:

    Foundation is some pallets I picked up for free locally. The idea is I can move it around with the tractor from storage to the driveway. Also raises it up so I donít need to bend over as much. I bolted the arch to the pallet. Price: $0 for pallets, plus a few nails, and $8 for stainless hardware from Lowes. Tools used: crowbar, hammer, drill, screwdriver.

    Barrel is an unpainted one from a local company. Price $30.

    Legs and door are from a barrel stove kit from Tractor Supply. Price $50. Tools used: angle grinder to cut holes (cutting wheel plus sanding flap wheel, true for all following angle grinder use), drill, screwdriver, wrench.

    I lined the bottom of the barrel with firebricks I had lying around.

    I bought a cast iron grate to get air under the fire. Price: $50 from Amazon. Tools used: wrench.

    Angle iron used to hold pan. Price: $10 for angle iron from local welding supply, a buck for the hardware. Tools used: angle grinder, drill, screwdriver, wrench.

    I used ceramic blanket insulation at the back of the pan. I had a hard time cutting the hole to be perfectly tight, so I cut it a little long and utilized the insulation to tighten it up. I used part of the barrel cut out for the pan hole to create a bracket to hold the blanket. Price: $14 for insulation from Amazon, a buck for hardware. Tools, angle grinder, drill, screwdriver, wrench.

    Stack is a six inch connector I cut up to connect to the back of the barrel, a 90 degree pipe, and two three-foot sections. Price: $40 for pipe from local Ace, plus a buck for the hardware, and a few bucks for stainless sheet metal screws from Lowes. Tools used: tin snips, angle grinder, drill, screwdriver.

    Pan is a 20x30Ē flat bottom stainless welded three channel from Vermont Evaporator Company. Came with brass valve, needed only Teflon tape to install. Price: $270 on sale at an open house, normally $320.

    Pre-heater is a half width steam pan. I used some 1 ľ inch aluminum angle to hold it in place. I cut some short pieces to make brackets to pinch the evaporator pan to hold in place. The ball valve to let sap out is stainless and weldless. Price: $28 for pan from Amazon, $7 for angle aluminum from Lowes, $4 for stainless hardware from Lowes, $27 for valve from local brewers supply place. Tools used: angle grinder, drill with step drill bit, screw driver, wrench.

    Total price = $544. Add in the previous failed barrel arch attempts and the cinder block evaporator I built the year before thatÖ well a bunch more money.


    It took a few attempts, but Iím happy with what I built. Itís totally possible for other first-timersóIím fairly handy, but havenít ever really done any metal fabrication before this.

    The barrel evaporator made by Vermont Evaporator Company is VERY nice. And although I initially thought the $900 price was steep, I no longer think that. I saw it in person, itís very nice. It has a big door with a good sized air inlet. It has tall legs. Itís painted nicely. And it converts to a woodburning grill, how neat! Plus, the people who make and sell it are super nice and helpful.

    If you canít afford or donít want to bother with a sugar shack for a permanent instillation for something like a Leader Half-Pint, I think either a homemade barrel stove or the Vermont Evaporator Company Sapling is a great option.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Winter, Wisconsin


    One of the better barrel evaporators I've seen, nice work! You may consider adding another 4' of stack to help with draft since you are coming out of the barrel with a 90.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Thornton, NH


    A grate for fire to sit on and a hole in bottom for ashes? More importantly hole lets in air.
    You'll notice a hotter fire. Tractor supply has generic fire place grates.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2018


    Did you ramp up the fire bricks past the grate? Very nice build!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Delaware Co New York


    Wow looks great good luck with it welcome to the addiction
    55 gal drum w/ custom made pan fueled by wood
    homemade 24x36 electrical pull box w/ custom pan for standby evap
    RB-5 RO-Bucket
    Started 2011 with 17 taps
    2018 72 taps Drop lines in 5 gal water Jugs

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