Trash bag size confusion... Is it really this difficult?

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303
Location
Oklahoma
I was an A+ student in high school. Geometry was my favorite subject. I feel I have a much higher than average IQ. But I've Googled this for hours now and am more confused than when I started...

This is a two part question. Part one:

I just received a standard "55 gallon drum" for my shop that exactly measures 23" in diameter and 34.5" in height (and is 6' in circumference, give or take a 1/2"), what size bag do I need?

Of the countless sites I searched, there was never a same answer. Every single one had their own crazy logic and even stranger answer. Almost everything I searched said I'd actually need "65+ gallon bags" and said to add 13-15 inches to the diameter and 15-30 inches to the height for "a proper fit." Keep in mind, this "proper fit" was pushing the 'less plastic' agenda. One of them actually said to add the circumference plus the height. None of this makes any sense. Basic logic implies the height only needs to be the height of the drum plus as much overhang as I prefer (4 inches is perfect), and the diameter should only need to be exact or maybe slightly larger just so it's not stretched when stuffed full (because you can't stretch the constant diameter of the drum). Basic logic also implies that if my can measures 23" in diameter and 34.5" in height, then a 32"x45" bag should easily fit, but apparently not because this is a 42-gallon bag. Seriously, a simple thing like a trash bag size should not be this difficult to figure out. Why do they make this so hard? Where am I going wrong? Or am I?

Part two:

I'm wanting to construct a 'spacer' in the bottom of the drum to occupy the full 23" diameter and 12" of the total height (so that it isn't as large of a bag, isn't as heavy when completely full, and when considering food possibly being a factor...it doesn't stink as long). I know how I want to build this spacer (four pieces of 2x4 that are approximately 10.5" high which are placed every 90 degrees around the circumference, connected by 2x4 pieces in a "plus sign" at the top with a round metal disc over the top of it to create a solid surface (think of a wooden circular table with legs placed on the outer edge and a metal top)). Alternatively, instead of the metal disc, I could use a round piece of plywood or OSB. Regardless, if I built this spacer, my dimensions would then be 23" in diameter by 22.5" in height. What size bag would I need then?

I know the easier answer is to buy a standard size smaller can, but I got this drum brand new for free and want to paint it to look like a name brand oil barrel for decor purposes in my shop.

Huge thanks in advance for any advice and/or clarity on this topic!
 
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7,834
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MI
I didn't read the entire OP. I suppose that bag sizes, i.e., 42 gallon bag is some sort of nominal number similar to how lumber is measured.

Does this help at all:

 
Last edited:

OilMagnate

Thread starter
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303
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Oklahoma
I didn't read the entire OP. I suppose that bag sizes, i.e., 42 gallon bag is some sort of nominal number similar to how lumber is measured.

Does this help at all:

I appreciate the effort, but not really. Just adds to the confusion. Both links are pictured on a 55 gallon drum. Why are the two sizes so dramatically different? One is 37x40, the other is 39x58.
 
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7,834
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The standard 55 gallon barrel is 34.5 inches high and about 23 inches diameter. The 40 inch tall bag will give you 5.5 inches to wrap over the top and give you your 4 inch overlap. The 58 inch tall bag simply gives you a lot more top overlap to give more extra plastic to cable tie it closed easier when overfilled to overflow (wastage of bag/plastic for convenience).

The difference of 37 inch wide vs. 39 inch wide is minute when opened up to "diameter". I bet the 37 and 39 inch width is the size of the bag laying flat, NOT the diameter when "opened up". A 37 inch wide bag laying flat will open up to approximately a 23 inch diameter. Hope that makes sense.
 
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561
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Daytona Beach
You don't need a "garbage bag", you need a "DRUM LINER"!
As for part two, your idea of the spacer will work, but I'm still not sure that a "standard" 55 gallon "garbage bag" will be the proper diameter.
Garbage bags are defined by their capacity, not by size, and there is NO correlation between the two.
Just to let you know, a 55 gallon sized "garbage bag" will work just fine in a 35 gallon drum. These are the small drums that usually contain bulk grease or differential fluid.
 
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16,393
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Silicon Valley
The height of the bag is more than just the height of the drum because the bottom also take up some surface area. So in theory you need at least the height of the can plus the radius of the drum to cover them without weighting down the edge (trash weight will pull the bag down a bit). In these kind of scenario you can be sure the internet experience will be more accurate.

Those designer trash cans at Bed Bath and Beyond will definitely throw a curve ball on what you need if you are not buying their custom fit designer trash bag. For me fortunately the paper towel and toilet paper wrappers fit perfectly, so now I only buy a particular size paper towel (8 double roll) and toilet paper (20 mega roll) so I get that trash can covered.

Regarding to spacer, I had this idea in the past but you need to worry about 1. any difference in diameter between the space and the drum outside means trash will go down and weight down the bag, not going to be pretty when the bag falls inside. and 2. It is easier to find a "hanging basket" to hang from the top so you don't have to deal with things falling inside the drum between the spacer and the drum. it is to find just the right size basket or spacer.

If you want a smaller trash can get a cheap one of the right size from Walmart or Target, it is easier than spacer and the wrong size bags, even if the trash can is free.
 
Last edited:

OilMagnate

Thread starter
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303
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Oklahoma
The standard 55 gallon barrel is 34.5 inches high and about 23 inches diameter.
I just received a standard "55 gallon drum" for my shop that exactly measures 23" in diameter and 34.5" in height (and is 6' in circumference, give or take a 1/2")
Yep.

The 40 inch tall bag will give you 5.5 inches to wrap over the top and give you your 4 inch overlap. The 58 inch tall bag simply gives you a lot more top overlap to give more extra plastic to cable tie it closed easier when overfilled to overflow (wastage of bag/plastic for convenience).
So this backs my theory that approximately 38-40" is all I need to fill the can and have the overlap I want without the spacer (strictly regarding height). So if I use the spacer, it will only need to be 26-28" tall.

The difference of 37 inch wide vs. 39 inch wide is minute when opened up to "diameter". I bet the 37 and 39 inch width is the size of the bag laying flat, NOT the diameter when "opened up". A 37 inch wide bag laying flat will open up to approximately a 23 inch diameter. Hope that makes sense.
I feel this is the missing puzzle piece, and is where I'm getting lost. I understand what you're saying, but what's the mathematical formula to get there?
 

OilMagnate

Thread starter
Messages
303
Location
Oklahoma
You don't need a "garbage bag", you need a "DRUM LINER"!
As for part two, your idea of the spacer will work, but I'm still not sure that a "standard" 55 gallon "garbage bag" will be the proper diameter.
Garbage bags are defined by their capacity, not by size, and there is NO correlation between the two.
Just to let you know, a 55 gallon sized "garbage bag" will work just fine in a 35 gallon drum. These are the small drums that usually contain bulk grease or differential fluid.
Thanks for clarifying that. I was/am mistakenly interchanging the two terms.
 

OilMagnate

Thread starter
Messages
303
Location
Oklahoma
The height of the bag is more than just the height of the drum because the bottom also take up some surface area. So in theory you need at least the height of the can plus the radius of the drum to cover them without weighting down the edge (trash weight will pull the bag down a bit).
I wasn't thinking of that. That makes perfect sense. So the proper LINER height would actually be 50" (34.5" + 4" + 11.5"). Okay. Now we're getting somewhere. I'm still pursuing the theory/formula side of things, but this is a step in the right direction.
 
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7,834
Location
MI
The height of the bag is more than just the height of the drum because the bottom also take up some surface area. So in theory you need at least the height of the can plus the radius of the drum to cover them without weighting down the edge (trash weight will pull the bag down a bit). In these kind of scenario you can be sure the internet experience will be more accurate.

That logic does not apply (I think) to the round bottom drum liner bags I linked to above.


Probably does to straight bottom liners:
https://www.bestcontainers.com/drum-liners-straight-bottom-flexible-drum-liners.html
 
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4WD

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Texas
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Seems about right … a bit of overhang as mentioned
 
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