Though a barrel barbeque pit is the most popular tool for back porch cooking, they do not usually last more than two or three seasons. With proper care and a little extra maintenance, however, you can double or triple the longevity of your barbeque pit.
Bottom of the Barrel
The first thing you should do in protecting your barrel barbeque is to take care of the bottom of the pit. With most barrel barbeques, the bottom is the first thing that will break or fail, either from rust, corrosion or even use. To help protect the bottom, purchase a steel plate that is ¼ inch thick and place it along the bottom of the barrel, making sure that you do leave a clearance beneath it to drain water, about 1 inch high. The steel will take a lot of the cooking abuse and even help with abuse caused from weather, allowing the bottom of your barrel to last a lot longer.
Another thing you can do with the bottom of your barrel is to lay our firebricks. Place them side-by-side so that they make a v-shape at the bottom of the barrel, so that as the briquettes burn, it will not hurt the metal of the barrel.
Paint Your Barrel
Paint the outside of your barrel with high heat paint, and repaint about once a year after scraping off the old paint and any rust. The high heat paint will help protect the pit, but it is important that you only paint the outside of the barrel. If you paint the inside, you could be poisoned. You should also treat the outside of your pit with a product like Ospho.
Sandpaper Your Barrel
Find very gentle sandpaper and use it to sandpaper both the inside and the outside of your barrel on any areas that have been affected by rust, corrosion or heat. Smooth it out gently and clean off the areas with a soft cloth and a little cleanser. It is important that you do not sand too deep, just deep enough to remove the rust from the pit.
Clean Your Barrel
One way to ensure that your barrel will last is by cleaning it before and after each use. This will make sure there is nothing in the barrel that will affect it if it comes in contact with heat and fire. Use a gentle brush and scrub it down and wipe it out with a rag.
Once you are done wiping it down, smear it with cooking oil. Not only will the oil help protect the inside of the barrel, but it will also slightly season your food.
Protect Your Barrel
Do not leave your barbeque barrel pit out in the rain or other harsh weather. Store it in a place where it will be safe, whether in a garage, shed or under a protective cover under your porch. By making sure that your barrel is covered, you will prevent rust from affecting it.