How can I reuse or recycle old immersion heaters/boilers?

boilerNext up in a mini-theme week on heating and energy:

It may have been sparked by the turning of the seasons but there seem to be a lot of people in my life buying new boilers at the moment – my mum & dad’s 28 year old one is getting cranky and is going to be replaced by a much more efficient one; my best friend Katherine’s is slightly newer but even less reliable, which isn’t ideal given she’s got a 22 day old baby at home (hi again baby Joe!); and our boiler at the old house won’t make it through another winter and will have to be replaced by either us or the next people in there. (Both my mum & dad and Katherine have immersion heaters/tanks, we had a combi.)

They’ve got a high scrap value at the moment because they’re usually made from a whole lot of metal but are there any good reuses for them rather than just sending them for recycling?

Anyone turned them into giant barbecues or woodburners/stoves? I’ve seen metal barrels and gas canisters used for those things… I guess the immersion heater type tanks could be used for water butts in the garden, maybe?

Any other cool reuses?

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2 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old immersion heaters/boilers?”

  1. Alice says:

    I always find big containers really useful on my allotment, for making compost bins, storing leaves and new manure which have to rot down before they can be used, for piling up the weeds to dry out before I burn them…

    • Thornton says:

      Copper is very durable and so handy for the garden, but when in contact with even a mild acid the oxides created (sometimes called verdigris) are slightly toxic especially to some bacteria and fungus, and some say it can also be harmful to small animals and birds. I would advise not putting your compost in a copper pot.

      How about using the cylinders as planters for flowers?

      Here is one fact sheet about copper
      I am sure there are others.

      Humans need copper in small quantities to survive, but measuring the dose you (or a young child or baby) might get from some food grown with compost that has been in contact with your pot would not be easy.

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