Upgraded Gear is supported by its readers. We may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you when buying using a link on our site.
For those of us who hate the thought of trudging out to the curb to get rid of leaves and yard waste, a burn cage is a convenient alternative. It's one of the quickest and most efficient ways to completely dispose of lawn and garden debris that you might have in your yard. A burn cage is also one of the best ways to burn twigs, sticks, and branches.
To create this article, we spent hours researching product data and user reviews for different burn cages. After reviewing the data, we've compiled a list of our top picks.
Tip: If you need help, then we recommend skipping ahead to our buying guide which lists important things to consider when purchasing a burn cage.
|Burn Right Products Incinerator Cage X-Large||Best Stainless Steel||Material: Stainless Steel||Capacity: 68 Gallons||Weight: 54 Pounds||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|Bad Idea Pyro Cage Large||Best Thick Steel||Material: American Steel||Capacity: 87 Gallons||Weight: 80 Pounds||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|Bad Idea Pyro Cage XXL||Huge Capacity||Material: American Steel||Capacity: 224 Gallons||Weight: 140 Pounds||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|Professional Grade Products Burn Barrel||Compact Design||Material: Stainless Steel||Capacity: 20 Gallons||Weight: 25 Pounds||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
|Buffalo Tools FCAGE Safeburn Fire Cage||Easy Assembly||Material: Steel||Capacity: 88 Gallons||Weight: 58 Pounds||VIEW LATEST PRICE||Read Our Analysis|
More Details on Our Top Picks
Best Stainless SteelShop Now at BurnRight
The Burn Right Incinerator XL is one of the best burn cages on the market. It's constructed out of stainless steel for rust prevention and years of exposure to the elements. It's also resistant to warping because of its cylindrical design. The cylindrical shape is also great for cleaning ash that builds up from multiple burns. When it's time to clean the cage, tip it on its side, shovel or vacuum out the ash, and stand it back up when you've finished. Additional features include easy assembly, portable design, and an ash catcher and lid. The design is patented, and it's made in the USA.
But I must warn you... it is expensive. The Burn Right Incinerator XL is the highest priced model available. However, the stainless steel construction is meant to last a lifetime, so it's more of an investment (I think that's a pretty good way to explain it to your spouse when they look at the CC statement).
Best Thick SteelShop Now at ProudPyro
The Bad Idea Pyro Cage Incinerator is a heavy-duty burn cage constructed out of thick USA steel. It's also made in the USA, and each Pyro Cage is hand-oiled before shipment. It will rust because it's not stainless steel, but the team at Bad Idea uses thick steel, so it should last through multiple seasons. The burn cage can be left outside and should last for years, completely exposed to the elements. An additional feature on the Bad Idea Pyro is its tab and slot design. Just slide the tabs into the slots, and you're done! You don't need any tools to assemble or disassemble the cage!
Huge CapacityShop Now at ProudPyro
The Bad Idea Incinerator XXL is one of the largest burn cages we've ever seen! It has a huge capacity, and if our math is right, it works out to about 224 gallons! The large size allows you to burn a lot of brush and leaves at a time. It uses the same type of 2x thick USA steel panels found on the smaller Pyro. But the XXL uses six panels to create a hexagon. We also don't recommend disassembling the burn cage for storage. It's huge, heavy, and probably not going anywhere. Also, most burn cages naturally warp over time, and disassembly gets more difficult. But because of its thick steel, we wouldn't lose sleep having it sit outside.
Compact DesignShop Now at Amazon
The Professional Grade Products burn cage is a good choice if you need a compact go-anywhere design. It's constructed out of stainless steel for rust prevention. You can leave it outside year-round, from summer to winter. Installation is also quick and shouldn't take too long. At about 20 gallons, it's the perfect size for about a half-acre. But if you need something larger, the company does have a larger model available for purchase.
Easy AssemblyShop Now at Amazon
The Buffalo Tools FCAGE is an easy burn cage to assemble and disassemble. It features a hinged design with a rod that fits through the hinge (like your house's interior door). Just pull out the rod, and the four corners collapse for easy transport and storage. It also comes with a lid, and the burn cage works great for all sorts of yard debris, including leaves. If we had to take off some points, it would be that it's not stainless steel and not double thick steel. So rust and warping are a concern.
A burn cage is a quick and easy way to get rid of fallen leaves, brush, and other excess yard waste on your property. It's also a great choice for burning thorns and tree branches that are hard to dispose of. The most recent models are built to last many years and can help solve your backyard debris problem.
Now before you pick a particular model, there are some factors you should consider. If you keep some of these things in mind, then you should have no problem finding the best burn cage for your needs.
Burn Cage Buying Considerations:
It would be a waste of money to buy a burn cage and then find out you can't use it. So, the single most important thing to do before you start is to figure out if you are even allowed to burn where you live.
Here are some of the various organizations that could restrict whether you can burn:
Now before you get overwhelmed, it's not difficult to check and make sure you're good to go.
One of the best ways to get started is by calling your local fire department. Your fire department usually has all this information on hand (aside from HOA rules) and can tell you if you're allowed to burn where you live.
Some other places to call and ask would be your state's forestry division or your state's air pollution control division. They can tell you the laws for your state and point you in the right direction for any county and city laws and laws.
You can find most of that information online, but it may not be up to date. It's always best to call and double-check. It's also important to realize that sometimes the restrictions differ depending on whether you live inside a village or city or outside the local limits.
Finally, sometimes the rules are different for open burns (burning a pile of leaves directly on the ground) versus closed burns (burning organic material in a container). So be sure to ask what category a burn cage falls into in your jurisdiction.
Your local ordinances will also spell out what you can and can't burn, depending on where you live. Usually, the restrictions are set by your state's EPA, but they can also be set through local laws and restrictions.
The list below lays out some things that you may or may not be allowed to burn. But we don't know the rules and laws governing your specific location, so you need to find that out before you proceed.
Never allowed to burn:
In general, you are never allowed to burn garbage, rubber, grease, asphalt, tires, solid waste, food wrappers, aerosol cans, plastics, or things with toxic chemicals. Burning these types of material can release heavy metals and dioxins into the environment, which is incredibly harmful and also illegal.
Maybe allowed to burn:
In general, depending on laws and rules that govern where you live, you may be allowed to burn leaves, tree limbs, stumps, brush, weeds, grass, shrubbery, and other plant matter. In some places, you may even be allowed to burn fence posts and scrap lumber.
Okay, enough with the rules and legal regulations. Let's focus the rest of our analysis on the burn barrel itself.
How much can the burn cage hold at a time, and is it enough for your needs?
That's a critical question you're going to need to answer. In general, if you have an acre or less, a burn barrel that holds at least 60 gallons should be enough for your needs.
Once you get the cage heated up and a good fire going, it can go through huge quantities of leaves and sticks FAST.
What if you live on more than one acre with lots of brush and leaves? Then size up as much as you can afford!
|Pyro Cage XXL||224 gallons|
|FCAGE Safeburn||88 gallons|
|Pyro Cage Large||87 gallons|
|Burn Right Cage||68 gallons|
|Professional Grade||20 gallons|
A burn cage comes in one of two types of material: steel and stainless steel.
Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages.
The largest disadvantage of a steel burn cage is that it rusts. Does that make all non-stainless burn cages a bad idea? No, not necessarily.
What's the material used to construct the hull of an oil tanker? You guessed it. Steel!
The critical question to ask is how thick is the steel that's used in the burn barrel? If you're familiar with the cheap 55-gallon metal drums that some people use for burn barrels, then you probably know that they rust out in a season or two.
Some manufacturers who don't use stainless-steel, choose to use extra-thick steel that is designed to last longer than the thinner stuff. It will rust, but it should give you a good bang for your buck.
What's the advantage of an all-steel burn cage? The advantage is usually found in its price and weight. It's a lot cheaper to use regular steel over stainless, so manufactures can double up on thickness and still make it less expensive. The extra-thick steel also weighs more, which is great if you don't want the cage falling over!
Now take everything we said about normal steel, and reverse it for stainless steel.
The obvious upside to stainless steel is that it doesn't rust. But it's also a lot more expensive, and it isn't as thick, which can lead to premature warping.
|Burn Right Cage||Stainless Steel|
|Professional Grade||Stainless Steel|
|Pyro Cage Large||American Steel|
|Pyro Cage XXL||American Steel|
The biggest surprise for an owner of a new burn cage is that it warps after a few fires! The reason this happens is that the temperature inside can easily reach upwards of 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit.
It's not high enough to melt steel, which needs a temperature of around 2,500 degrees, but it is enough to warp the steel cage. So here's the question: is a warped cage a problem? In general, no. It's more of an aesthetic issue.
But (and there's always a but), a warped cage can be a problem in two situations: if the warping pops the seams or if you plan on disassembling and then reassembling the cage.
If the seams pop, the cage won't hold itself together anymore. That's a problem! The solution is to buy a round cage resistant to warping or buy a cage that uses a tab and slot design (which can warp but will not break).
If you need to disassemble and reassemble the cage, then warping is more of an issue. You might not be able to fit it back together in situations of extreme warping. The solution is to buy a round cage that's resistant to warping, or don't move your cage once it's in place. Leave it outside and worry about other things in life.
A heavier burn cage is less likely to tip over, something you don't want to happen with a fire inside. But the increased weight does make it more difficult to lug around your yard if you want to move it or bring it in for the season. However, our recommendation is to leave your burn cage up year around.
|Professional Grade||25 pounds|
|Burn Right Cage||54 pounds|
|FCAGE Safeburn||58 pounds|
|Pyro Cage Large||80 pounds|
|Pyro Cage XXL||140 pounds|
You will eventually have to clean out the ash buildup at the bottom of your burn cage.
Some burn cages are light enough to pick up and tip over. This is more difficult with heavier cages and ones that don't use screw fasteners.
Other types of burn barrels use a hinged door that opens to access the ash.
As a last resort, you could use a shovel or vacuum to clean out the ash without opening it up and struggling to get it put back together.
Normally, we don't recommend disassembling your burn cage. Eventually, warping will occur, making it hard to take apart and put back together. But if you're bound and determined to bring it in after a heavy burn or at the end of each season, then this is something you might want to look into.
Some cages have a collapsable design, which makes disassembly very simple. Other cages use screws that could strip out the threads on the cage with overuse—just some things to think about and keep in mind.
Besides our guide on buying a burn cage, we also want to answer some of the commonly asked questions about these products. If you have a question we haven't answered, then please drop us a line. We'll try to get it answered and add it to this article.
A burn cage is a steel container designed for burning leaves, yard debris, cardboard, and documents. Usually, burn cages are constructed out of thick steel or stainless steel and are usually last longer than typical 55-gallon burn drums. Sizes vary between 60 gallons and 215 gallons. Air intake holes are drilled or cut into the bottom of the drum to increase airflow and raise the incineration temperature.
A burn cage is also a very dangerous tool if used improperly. It's critical to always comply with all smoke and burning laws and regulations. The last thing you need is a hefty fine or to appear on the local news as the culprit who started a forest fire.
The restrictions and laws regarding what you can and cannot burn depend entirely on where you live. Some homeowner associations entirely forbid any open burning. Also, some states, counties, and cities have their own laws and restrictions on what can and cannot be burnt. Always check to ensure you comply with any and all rules and laws before you use a burn barrel to burn anything.
Not everything has to be burnt, and there are many other great ways to dispose of certain materials.
Recycle - Check to see if the material you want to burn can first be recycled. For example, if you are allowed to burn cardboard, it might not be a great idea. The better idea would be recycling and reusing it for another purpose.
Composting - Why spend money on fertilizer when you can make your own? You can make your own free fertilizer, completely natural, by composting your yard waste and leftover food scraps. Add little by little to your compost pile, and you'll soon have a beneficial fertilizer for your garden and flower beds.
Also, keep in mind that you should never burn household trash or hazardous waste. The EPA can levy hefty fines for burning these types of materials.
Instead of buying a burn barrel, some people choose to make their own out of an old metal drum. A typical 55-gallon drum doesn't last as long, but it's a great inexpensive solution if you are handy with tools and on a budget.
Here are some tips on making your own:
A fire is dangerous, but incineration is even more deadly! The high burn temperatures in even the most efficient burns can quickly lead to wildfires and neighborhoods ablaze!
Here are some safety tips that might help you when using your burn cage: