Burning an Engine

I want to put the engine from my 1990 Chevy Lumina on top of a bonfire. Should i be worried about pressure building up in the cylinders that would cause the engine to explode?

If you think it would explode, what should i do to prevent the explosion?

Wouldn’t a letter to the President of GM be a safer way of expressing your feelings about that Lumina?

ha! it would…but i still want to burn it…

Take out the spark plugs and you won’t have a worry about pressure building up in the cylinders. When the bonfire is over you’ll have a lump of metal that isn’t going to change much. The plastic and wiring will melt but that’s about it.

Whatever floats your boat!

I would suggest draining the engine’s oil before embarking on this strange little experiment. The thick smoke from burning oil will attract a lot of attention, and you may wind up being in violation of an ordinance or two.

yeah, good call, i was planning on draining the oil and cleaning the engine with degreaser before doing it.

removing spark plugs is a great idea…makes total sense.

You’re going to have to come back and post pictures. Don’t leave everyone hanging.

Nothing will happen and I don’t see any point to this at all. A tremendous amount of pressure exists in the cylinders when the engine is running anyway.

Nothing will be accomplished except that you will be left with a blackened lump of scrap metal.

Is there a reason behind wanting to do this or are you that bored?

i am an artist and i am doing this as a part of a conceptual piece…my hope is to end up with a blackened lump of scrap metal…the engine is fried anyway, there is a seized piston…this is why i am concerned about pressure build up

the piece will be documented and video will be shown in the gallery next to the blackened engine block

The engine won’t explode with or without the plugs…Oak pallets make a great funeral pyre and will support the engine right up until the bitter end when they will collapse into a pile of red heat. The more pallets, the better the show! To do it up right, you should burn the entire car…In todays regulated society, even in the middle of Utah, that would be almost impossible without 6 different government permits which would take a year or two to collect. Good Luck with your “Work Of Art”…

You don’t want to be anywhere near that bonfire when doing this. The plastics from engine covers/wiring/components, emit a poisonous gas when burned. Also, don’t be surprised if law officials show up from the black smoke from the fire, and cite you for unlawful burning of a hazardous substance.


Tester is right…In todays cell-phone world, you could call your project “Contest to see who calls 911 first” followed by contest to see who arrives first, the Police or Fire department…

It’s unlikely that you’ll wind up with anything besides a dirty, sooty engine.

It certainly won’t explode, and you’ll have to work at it, with forced air or something similar to get the fire hot enough to even melt aluminum. If you don’t “enhance” your bonfire with the forced air you’ll be disappointed.

Now if you really want to burn something, get an old VW engine block. The really old ones had a high magnesium content. They were a real dickens to get started, even a road flare set inside one would burn a hole in it but not start it burning. But if you could get one to burn, it was pretty impressive. Absolutely nothing left but the oil pump pickup. And some really crude greenish glass formed from the sand underneath it. And more smoke than you’ve ever seen. And a lot of amazed people.

Sounds like an utterly pointless exercise to me.
A waste of fuel and time, creating pollution, and this is to be called “art”?

The only thing worse would be someone actually looking at this and even faintly considering it as culture. Dali and Van Gogh must be turning over in their graves.

Rather than make a mess of things and making a small contribution to dirty air, how about just advertise the engine on Craigslist as auto parts for 20 bucks, allow someone to haul it off and get some use out of the cylinder heads, or whatever. Take the 20, head to the liquor store, and accomplish something that way.

Yeah, this is going to be a miserably boring visual. The plastic bits -of which there aren’t many- will melt, and the rest of it will go on being metal. Turns out metal isn’t very flammable, which is precisely why the engine is made of it.