#594…sci, relig, ETC: “What Is a Barrel?”


What is a “barrel“?


How much can it hold?


Well…it depends…


   Since a barrel meant so much to me 53 years ago, I’d like to tell you more.


But for that you’ll have to use the DOOR.




   First, a barrel is not just a round steel container that holds 55 US gal. Barrels come in different sizes based on their contents, as defined by various standards¹. Here goes:


Oil   =              42 US gal

Oil   =              35 UK gal

Beer   =            31 US gal

Beer   =            50 UK L

Dry Goods =     7,o56 in³

Cranberries =   5,826 in³

Flour   =           196 lb

Cornmeal  =     200 lb

Cement   =        376 lb

Lime   =             280 lb


   The first important barrel in my life was a 55 gal steel one that I cut a hole in down near the bottom when I stood it on end at the back end of a huge bathtub. I attached a brass spigot and, behold, I had an ideal container for a back-up water supply that was the envy of my fellow Peace Corps volunteers. And it didn’t leak! We were in West Africa where our watchword was “WAWA” (West Africa wins again.)

    Another volunteer, a missionary, worked in another country where sanitation was a big issue. He cut the top and bottom off a barrel, made a cement “slab” with a hole in the middle, put the barrel in a hole just far enough down, and put his slab on top, and presto, made an outdoor toilet, that eventually could be moved to a new location if necessary. He made several more of these. He was loved for this.

   (Time for something lighter…I hope this was worth your time.)


   ¹ The information about different kinds of barrels came from “Weight & Measures,” 2015, printed out and laminated by BarCharts, Inc. For more of these “Quick Study” measures of everything, go to quick study.com.

   ² There is no endnote 2. But I had to put this to get to the next note…

   ³ The “3” used above means “cubed.” “Cubic inches” could be written this way also: cu in.

Author: John Knapp