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This article is about an older version of DF.

Barrels are storage units that, like bins and bags, conserve stockpile space by containing 10 items of the same type (for exceptions, see the Mix Food and Storage Quirk sections). They can be made out of wood or metal. Making a barrel from wood requires one log, and making a barrel from metal requires three bars of the same type.

Specific Uses[edit]

Metal versus Wooden[edit]


  • A very practical use for bars in overabundance.
  • If you're short on wood (due to fortress placement on a tundra, for instance), you can use metal barrels and apply your wood elsewhere, assuming you have an alternate fuel source such as coal or magma to power your smelters.
  • Do not catch on fire. If fire is brought to your food stockpile made of wood, you can find yourself with a starvation pandemic.
  • 10x more effective at deterring vermin that can disgust your dwarves.
  • Metal barrels can be used to safely trade food items to the Elves.


  • Wood is often more prevalent and easier to obtain than metal.
  • Metal barrels require 3 bars, while wooden barrels only need 1 log. This is the main factor as to why wood barrels are the much more popular choice.

Viewing Contents[edit]

To see the contents of a barrel (or bin), use the k key to open the look menu. Once over the target, use + & - to scroll up or down the tile's list until the barrel in question is highlighted. Press enter to see its contents. If you wish to view a specific item, the same process can be applied to that menu.

Mix Food[edit]

If the "Mix Food" toggle is on (from the orders menu - default is on), then dwarves will store similar food into the same barrel, resulting in "Plant Barrel", "Meat Barrel", etc. Turning off this toggle will force the dwarves to store food more explicitly ("Plump helmet barrel", etc.), demanding more barrels. Turning off "Mix Food" is primarily useful if you have stockpiles that specialize based on plant type; for instance, a pig tail stockpile near a farmer's workshop and loom, a cave wheat stockpile near the mill, etc.

Storage Capacity[edit]

Barrels can store 10 items, solid (plants, prepared meals, seed bags, fat/tallow, dye bags, etc.) or liquid (alcohol or lye), with the exception of extracts such as milk (of which up to 100 can be stored). A stack of items does not take up any less space than unstacked individual items, but a bag counts as only a single item - thus, a single barrel can hold up to 1,000 seeds distributed evenly between 10 bags, but a single stack of 5 plump helmets takes up just as much room as 5 individual, unstacked plump helmets. If a stack contains more than 10 items, it will not be placed into a barrel, as is often the case when producing prepared meals. While different types of food can be placed in the same barrel (if "Mix food" is enabled), a barrel containing a liquid (other than booze) will only be used to store additional quantities of the same liquid.


Any stockpile which has been marked to allow barrels will automatically have empty barrels assigned to it for storage of food items, preventing them from being used for tasks like brewing alcohol. To remedy this, special settings are available from the Stockpile status screen which permit reserving a number of barrels.