3-4 inch metal barrel with holes on top, bottom, and sides. Found in elderly couples home while cleaning out. Any idea?

A questioner said:

3-4 inch metal barrel with holes on top, bottom, and sides. Found in elderly couples home while cleaning out. Any idea?

More info: This thing that was found in an elderly couples home. The lid screws off and the inside is hollow.

Some of the people opinions on it:

  1. Could be an old holder for moth balls–I’ve seen similar devices. Here’s an example.
  2. There are two correct answers, it’s an infuser for making iced tea by the pitcher, or its a hanging container for moth balls. It would have a chain about 12 inches long attached to the dimple on top. If you found it in the kitchen, tea. If you found it in a bedroom, mothballs. If it was used for mothballs it will still smell like naptha and will have a white residue inside.
  3. For spices in soup. It had a chain on it maybe.
  4. It’s an infuser. To make a pot of tea loose tea. Or to infuse herbs into a broth.
  5. its for moth balls
  6. It looks like it got a lot of use. Maybe it was used to make either a whole pot of coffee or tea. It probably had a chain on top to pull it out of the pot when it was done steeping.
  7. I remember these. Tea infuser. The one end had a chain on it.
  8. Mothball tin
  9. It looks kinda like the thing you put herbs in for stews.
  10. I recall seeing these used as dehumidifiers when filled with silica gel. People used to hang them in their closets.
  11. I’ve always known them as a picking spice holder. Same as others have said about soup. Once the brine is boiled and spiced, simply pull the ball out with all the spice residue leaving nothing but flavour.
  12. I recognise the pattern as something similar was screwed into the lid of a biscuit tin to absorb moisture and keep the biscuits fresh
  13. Bouquet garni infuser
  14. It’s not used for moth balls they would interact with the metal. It’s used for great pots of tea or mulling spices in wine or herbs and spices in broth so you can take them out. A safety pin through the chain holder and some string will let you remove it but since it’s big you can fish it out. Or you can put lavender or citrus peel in it and add it to a bath.
  15. Tea infuser for a small pot.
  16. My mom uses that exact device to make tea
  17. Catnip container / cat toy.
  18. Looks like a massive pod for a Storz & Bickel device
  19. Instantly spawned the scent of mothballs in my memories.
  20. Why do old people love moth balls?! I’ve never had moths eat anything? What is going on
  21. A diffuser of some type. No clue as to what it’d hold, does it have a scent besides metallic?

What do you think? Let us know in the comment!

Cleaning out an elderly couple’s home can often lead to unexpected discoveries, from forgotten family heirlooms to long-lost photographs. However, some items found can be perplexing, sparking curiosity and sometimes concern. One such item is a small metal barrel, approximately 3-4 inches in length, with holes on the top, bottom, and sides. This article delves into the potential origins and uses of this intriguing object.

The Discovery

While assisting in the cleaning of an elderly couple’s home, a small metal barrel was discovered tucked away in a dusty corner of the attic. The barrel, made of what appeared to be steel or aluminum, measured about 3-4 inches in length. What made this object particularly intriguing were the uniformly spaced holes on its top, bottom, and sides, giving it an almost industrial or mechanical appearance.

Potential Explanations

  1. Flash Suppressor or Muzzle Brake: One of the most common explanations for a small metal barrel with holes is that it might be a flash suppressor or muzzle brake from a firearm. These devices are attached to the muzzle of a gun to disperse the gases released when firing, reducing recoil and muzzle flash. The holes help to redirect the gases and stabilize the firearm. Given the elderly couple’s age, this could be a relic from military service or a collectible from a firearm enthusiast.
  2. Garden Hose Nozzle: Another practical use could be as a part of a garden hose attachment. Older metal hose nozzles often had perforations to allow for different spray patterns. The holes would create various water flows for gardening tasks. This explanation fits the era when more durable, metal gardening tools were common.
  3. Vintage Automotive or Machinery Component: This metal barrel could also be a part of a vintage car or piece of machinery. Components such as air or oil filters sometimes featured perforated designs to allow for airflow or liquid passage. Given the couple’s age, they might have been involved in automotive repair or collected vintage machinery parts.
  4. Home Appliance Part: Small perforated barrels can also be found in older home appliances, such as washing machines or dishwashers. These parts could be related to water distribution systems or filtration components within the appliance.
  5. Musical Instrument Component: An offbeat yet plausible explanation is that it might be a part of a musical instrument, such as a muffler for brass instruments, which are used to alter the sound produced.

Historical Context

Understanding the historical context of the couple can provide further clues. If they lived through the mid-20th century, it’s likely they owned items related to the post-war boom in homeownership and gardening. Alternatively, if they had a background in mechanics or were hobbyists, the object could indeed be a component from a classic car or machinery from that period.

Next Steps

Identifying the exact use of the metal barrel would require further examination, potentially consulting with experts in vintage machinery, firearm accessories, or antique home appliances. Posting detailed photographs and descriptions on online forums dedicated to these interests could yield more definitive answers from enthusiasts and professionals.


The small metal barrel with holes found in an elderly couple’s home is a captivating enigma, a relic from a time when durable, multifunctional tools and components were the norm. Whether it is a firearm accessory, a garden tool, a part of a vintage automobile, or something entirely different, its discovery opens a window into the past, reflecting the diverse and fascinating lives of those who came before us. As we piece together its story, we honor the legacy of practicality and ingenuity that defined earlier generations.

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