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This article will take an in-depth look at barrels
One will understand more about topics such as:
What are Barrels?
Considerations in Barrel Selection
Types of Barrels
Uses of Metal Barrels
Uses of Plastic Barrels
Advantages of Metal Barrels
Advantages of Plastic Barrels
And much more...
Chapter One: What are Barrels? Considerations in Barrel
What are Barrels?
Plastic and metal barrels are cylindrically shaped containers that store various types of liquid, solid, and powder materials for shipping and warehousing. They have an endless number of uses from capturing rain water to shipping gas and oil. Barrels have existed for centuries and were originally made of wood that was strapped together with metal bands.
Since the introduction of the original barrels, the wood sides have been replaced by metal and plastic, materials that are sturdier, stronger, and more durable. Despite having differing historical roots, the terms "drum" and "barrel" have become synonymous. The term drum has been used to refer to a 55 US gallon container while barrel is in reference to 42 US gallon oil containers. As the uses of barrels and drums have expanded, the original uses of the terms have changed.
High density polyethylene (HDPE), with a high molecular weight and density, is used to make plastic barrels. It is a strong material that is inert and resistant to high and low pH values. Barrels are used in various aspects of the supply chain from transport and shipping to storage and warehousing. The United States government and the United Nations have established regulations, classifications, and standards for barrels that require the display of letters and numbers to specify the class of a barrel or drum as well as other pertinent information.
The two general classes of barrels are closed head and open head where open head means the cover of the barrel can be removed while closed head means the barrel is completely sealed. Open head barrels are used in conditions where frequent access to the contents is required such as food production and agriculture. Closed head barrels are used for the shipment of liquid products and have two access plugs in the top of the barrel.
Plastic and metal barrels are crucial for storage and transportation due to their capacity to hold practically any substance. When properly sealed, barrels protect their contents from environmental conditions and contaminants. The selection of the type of barrel is dependent on several factors, aside from its contents, and include the size, shape, material, and use of the barrel.
Considerations in Barrel Selection
Materials Used to Make the Barrel
The material that must be transported or stored in the barrel is
a key factor in choosing the barrel itself. Some substances can
be corrosive while others are inert, some are acidic, others are
alkaline, some are liquid, and others are powder. These should
be taken into account by the manufacturers of barrels while
choosing the material for the barrel.
Metal barrels are commonly referred to as steel or carbon steel
barrels Steel drums contain either phenolic linings or inside
rust inhibitors to maintain the quality of the items. This
protection translates to the ability to handle more abrasive
chemicals, making them ideal for items like retail inks,
detergents, lubricants, and more.
Plastic barrels are the most diverse in the realm of drum
packaging containers. HDPE or LDPE is commonly used to make blue
plastic barrels and other plastic drums. Many are
light-blocking, UV-resistant barrels with molded-in colors. They
can therefore carry various liquids and solids, including
chemicals, medications, food, beverages, liquids, cosmetics,
electrical components, hardware, and home goods.
When choosing a barrel, it is important to consider both the
weight of the contents and the container. While light stuff
needs light material, heavy material may need a heavy drum.
Barrels With an Open Head or a Closed Head
The terms "open head" and "closed head" describe two different
styles of barrel lids. A barrel with an open head features a
detachable lid, allowing the user to fill or empty the barrel by
removing the entire top. It's crucial to note that while the top
lid can be removed, it can also be securely fastened to the
barrel using clamps, seals, security levers, and locks. A
tight-head drum, also known as a closed-head barrel, has a tight
lid that cannot be opened. The top cover must be removed to fill
and empty the barrel because it is otherwise fastened to the
A tight-head drum, also known as a closed-head barrel, has an attached lid that cannot be removed except by force. If the lid is forcefully removed, it loses its UN rating and can only be used as a burn or trash barrel.
The open-head steel drum design performs well when rapid or
simple access to the barrel's contents is required. Although it
may retain liquids, the open-head barrel's construction makes it
ideal for keeping solids or semi-solids. Although the top lid
can be fastened, it is more likely to leak or spill than the
steel drum with a tighter closed-head design. A closed-head
barrel is the greatest option for holding liquids, especially
thin liquids that could spill. Since they are entirely contained
and sealed, except for a small bung or aperture on the barrel,
closed-head drums offer far greater security regarding leakage.
Viscosity and Specific Gravity
Consider the specific gravity and viscosity ratings of the
fluids to be transferred carefully before choosing a barrel
pump. Since some barrels can be built with a tap to access the
contents, this will impact the barrel's output valves, if there
Temperatures of Fluids
Due to the materials used in their manufacture, 55-gallon drums
are made to have walls that can resist a specific amount of
heat. Therefore, always consider the maximum temperature of
fluids held in the barrel when choosing a drum for an
When buying a barrel, it's crucial to stick to a specific price
range. This is because durability only sometimes correlates to
Barrels come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. The development of the different sizes has been in regard to the types of products that need to be shipped. Additionally, the use of high density plastics has made it possible to create a wide range of shapes.
The common sizes for HDPE barrels are 55 gallon, 30 gallon, and 15 gallon with other sizes available by special order or per manufacturer. Although 55 gallon is typically the largest size, HDPE barrels can be as large as 65 gallons up to 95 gallons. The diameters of plastic barrels range from 14 inches for a 15 gallon barrel up to 23.3 inches for a 55 gallon plastic barrel.
As with plastic drums, metal drums started with the 55 gallon drum and have branched out into a wide array of sizes. Unlike plastic drums, metal barrels are restricted to the traditional cylinder shape. In addition, they have several accessories that can be added to a barrel for easier access to the barrels contents as well as ones that can expand the use of a metal barrel such as mixing materials, strainers, and heaters.
The sizes of metal barrels begin at 5 gallons and go up to 110 gallons with increments of 8 gallons, 10 gallons, 16 gallons, and 20 gallons. A fundamental aspect of the selection process for metal barrels is determined by the number of barrels that can fit on a pallet from which the process expands into the material to be handled.
Chapter Two: Metal and Plastic Barrels
Metal barrels are made from carbon steel and stainless steel with stainless steel used for the shipping and storage of chemicals. Steel barrels are used to ship liquids and solid materials and are used for mixing, storage, dispensing, and filtering processes, with liquids being more prevalent. Steel barrels are strong and affordable, enabling producers to get several uses out of a single barrel before recycling it after it has served its purpose.
Carbon steel is made of iron with 0.12% up to 2% of carbon. The amount of carbon determines the quality and grade of carbon steel. Stainless steel has a minimal amount of chromium, which is between 10.5% and 11%. Other alloys are added to stainless steel to enhance its strength and resistance to chemicals, corrosion, and other adverse effects. Various processes are used to manufacture carbon steel and stainless steel with cold rolling and hardening being the most common methods.
The most common material used for the shipping of hazardous chemicals for chemical processing and the pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and wastewater sectors is carbon steel. Cold rolled carbon steel is best suited for industries that require high tensile strength, like mining and defense. Stainless steel is ideal for sanitary applications and applications requiring a high degree of corrosion resistance, such as food and beverage, industrial manufacturing, and construction.
In the food and beverage industry, metal barrels are used for their strength and sturdiness. Industrial applications depend on metal barrels for their durability, tolerance for extreme conditions, and ability to withstand impact and force during shipping. Metal barrels have been given UN approval for safely handling hazardous materials such as acetone, ethanol, and methanol, which can disintegrate plastic.
Certain metal barrels are specially manufactured to transport flammable, toxic, and hazardous waste products for disposal. These uniquely designed metal barrels have a tight seal to prevent leaks and a rugged exterior. The versatility and flexibility of steel barrels makes them capable of shipping a wide range of liquids, powders, and chemicals.
Industrial plastic barrels are produced from various materials, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), nylon, and polystyrene. Plastic barrels are capable of storing several varieties of products, which is the reason they are so widely used. They are adaptable, strong, affordable, and capable of withstanding the effects of substances with extremely high or low pH levels.
Plastic barrels, commonly called blue barrels, are used for tasks such as dispensing, mixing, filtration, transporting, and storing. They come in an assortment of sizes and can hold everything from food and drink products to hazardous garbage. Food products, chemical oils, vinegar, medications, beverages, and items like sand are shipped and stored in plastic barrels. After being thoroughly cleaned, they can be recycled and repurposed.
The introduction of plastic barrels has expanded the number of choices manufacturers and producers have for shipping their products. The wide range of sizes and the different shapes makes it possible for plastic barrels to be adapted to fit any application. They provide another option for the movement of goods along the supply chain.
Leading Manufacturers and Suppliers
Chapter Three: Manufacturing of Metal and Plastic Barrels
Production of Metal Barrels
Forming is frequently employed in the production of metal
barrels. For example, the metal sheet used to create each drum
first goes through an edge grinder, smoothes out the sheet's
sharp edges. The steel sheets are then placed into a bender with
a cylindrical mold where the metal is curved and bent. Then,
different welding techniques are used. After being bent, the
metal is fed by a worker into a spot welding machine, which
starts to weld numerous locations along the edge of the metal
sheet to form a tube connecting the two ends. The two loosely
linked ends are then fully seamed together by going through seam
welding equipment, and welding across the entire connection of
the sheet ends.
The drum's entire body is first manufactured, and then it goes
through a laborious manipulation process. During the flanging
process, the drum is fed through a machine that inserts flanges,
creating rim indentations and edges on the top and bottom of the
container. Following the production of these edges, the barrel
enters a bead expander. This device stretches beads or rolling
hoops around the circle of the container by holding the drum
horizontally. These hoops, which reinforce the object's body,
are made by turning rods around the interior of the barrel.
Along the top and bottom of each barrel, circumferential
indentations face inward in addition to the outward-facing hoops
or beads. The indentations are made with a corrugating machine
and are corrugated.
The bottom section of the container must now be made and then
attached after the body has been constructed to the standards
The cutting and embossing of barrel bottoms are done.
The bottoms are stamped down and sliced using unique dies or
molds in a pressing machine. After being constructed, the
container bottoms go through a pre-curler, a device that curls
the edges of each bottom piece to make it ready for seaming to
the drum body.
The bottom pieces enter a seaming machine with a drum body
that rotates and pushes the two sections together so they are
prepared to be placed in containers.
The item is now seamed to prevent items that the container will
eventually hold from leaking. Next, it's time to finish forming
the container so it can stand alone by adding a top. Drum
bottoms and tops are made similarly. First, drum tops need to be
punched using a machine that will make holes in a specified size
and location once they are formed. The next step will be to
place flanges into these holes. Metal rings must first be bent
inside using a flange-fitting die set or mold machine to put
flanges into drum apertures or holes. Later, the drum contents
will be emptied into or out of the container through these
apertures. When everything is finished, the top, which has
flanged holes, is seamed to the body using a method akin to
bottom seaming to produce a useful container. The whole steel
barrel is now complete.
However, in the fabrication of steel drums, optional procedures
are used based on personal desire and final use. For example,
each drum can enter a paint booth machine, rotated and
horizontally fed while being painted on the exterior by the
Production of Plastic Barrels
Plastic blow molding technology produces plastic barrels in
which molten plastic is blown into a die or mold. With this
technique, numerous shapes can be produced without internal
seams. As with steel drums, barrels are still formed in a
cylindrical shape to facilitate rolling and handling. The round
design has no weak corners but exposed and impact-prone corners
can crack. A seamless design has the extra advantage of
preventing the growth of microorganisms in crevices. The sizes
and shapes created via blow molding are virtually limitless. The
materials used for blow molding drums are thermoplastics,
including acetal, polyamide, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride,
low or high-density polycarbonate, and polypropylene.
Blow molding can be done in three ways: extrusion, injection,
and injection stretch. Melting resin or pellets into a parison,
which resembles a long plastic tube with a hole at one end, is
the first step in every plastic molding procedure. The parison
is dropped into the mold cavity open end first and secured
firmly to prevent air leakage. Next, the parison is fired with
compressed air, inflating and pushing it against the mold's
side. The heated plastic fills the empty area in the mold and
takes on the shape of the mold as it expands. After the form
piece has cooled, the mold is opened to release the finished
barrel. The top and bottom protrusions of the barrel can be
removed automatically or manually.
Chapter Four: Types of Barrels
The top cover of a closed-head barrel, also known as a
tight-head drum, is not detachable. The top and bottom of a
plastic drum with a tight head are sealed. Similar to the bottom
end, the top side of a closed-head drum forms a durable seal
since it is solid and merged with the drum's body. A port known
as a bung opening is the sole means to get to a closed-head
drum's contents. These tiny gaps are closed off using a bung or
another sturdy stopper. Tight-head plastic drums are frequently
considered more secure than open-head plastic drums since they
Low-viscosity liquids, including water, gasoline, crude oil, and
other flammable and liquid combustibles, are ideally suited for
closed-head drums. The two-inch bung is designed to accommodate
suitable pipe and pumping systems, enabling every drum's secure
loading and spill-free filling. Since closed-head drums are
frequently used to store liquid hazardous compounds, they must
normally be UN-rated, have the proper hazmat labeling, and
adhere to strict requirements.
An open-head barrel often called an open-top drum, has a top
cover or lid that is completely detachable. Open-head drums can
be sealed with a tight cover and fastenings for transport or
storage or left open-topped, i.e., without a lid. The top of the
container will be used for filling and emptying because it has a
They can withstand the demands of shipping because they are built to withstand severe environments and continuous use. Depending on the project's needs, open-head barrels can be used indoors or outdoors and are durable.
Open-head drums are frequently used for shipping or storage since they are highly reliable and durable. They are filled and emptied without need for special tools or devices and can be manually loaded or unloaded if necessary. Open-head drums are produced in colors that manufacturers use for inventory purposes with a smooth surface that can be labeled to identify the contents of the drum.
Open-head barrels are utilized because they offer the following
Closed-head drums fill and empty more quickly.
Nozzles or bungs are unneeded.
Clamps can be used to lock and shut lids securely.
Filling from the top is simple and effective.
They are able to safely hold significant amounts of solids.
Tamper-evident security elements may be included.
Taper-sided barrels are lighter and easier to handle than other
types of drums. In addition, for simple storage, the tapering
sides allow for nesting. Open-headed, taper-sided 55-gallon
drums are typically available in several colors. However, blue
is the most typical.
Stainless steel drums are becoming increasingly popular to
create, ferment, mature, and store wine in the wine business.
New designs are created to fit inside wine barrel racks.
Rain barrels are containers that catch rainwater dripping from
roofs and downspouts. It is unsafe to consume this drainage
because it is non-potable. However, such water is safe to wash
automobiles or outside surfaces and water gardens, lawns, and
Drums for collecting rainwater have a straightforward design,
are simple to use, and can be placed anywhere. Installing a
basic rain barrel utilizes soft rainwater, decreases the need
for public utility water, and promotes self-sufficiency. In
addition, rain barrels lessen the amount and flow of runoff into
the sewer or stormwater systems by collecting and storing
Chapter Five: Uses of Metal and Plastic Barrels
Uses of Metal Barrels
Metal barrels can be made from a variety of materials with
varying strengths. Therefore, it is useful for storing various
materials thanks to these characteristics. It is crucial to know
the material that will be kept within to choose the appropriate
kind of barrels. Metal drums are widely used for various
purposes and are effective for long-term storage and
transportation. The following are some of their most common
Water: Metal barrels can be used to store water and
other liquids. However, using metal barrels for drinking water
is not suggested because most metals are corrosive.
Storing Fuel (Such as Gasoline and Diesel): Metal
barrels can store combustible substances for extended periods.
For this application, steel barrels with closed heads may be
Food: Foodstuffs, such as spices, grains, and powders,
can be stored in these barrels since metal can shield its
contents from the environment. Rodents and mice cannot reach
the food, in contrast to plastic, which they can consume.
Storing Hazardous Waste: Metal barrels with closed
heads can store dangerous chemicals. The risk can be moved
outside to protect the workers.
Uses of Plastic Barrels
It's crucial to be sure the barrels one uses can hold the
materials one needs because plastic barrels can be created in
various grades, strengths, and capacities. In addition, approved
polymers are required to store chemicals and other hazardous
Food and Drinks: Plastic barrels are an excellent
option for moving food and drinks from one location to
another. They can keep food and beverages cold in warehouses
or commercial fridges and freezers, making it simple to
transport items. In addition, since they can easily store
large quantities of dried food, powders, and liquids, plastic
barrels are especially well suited for large-scale catering
Corrosive Compounds: Because strong plastics won't
corrode like other materials like steel, they are ideal for
storing corrosive substances and dangerous chemicals. They are
a common option in many industrial settings because they
provide a secure manner of storing and transporting acids and
other potentially harmful substances.
Lubricants and Oils: Industrial liquids such as
lubricants and oils can be transported and stored in large
amounts using plastic barrels. They can be cost-effectively
sealed inside the barrels, enabling easy access to the liquids
Cleaning Supplies: Plastic barrels offer a
cost-effective and secure solution to store many cleaning
supplies. They are frequently used by large-scale cleaning
businesses since they won't rust and can hold a wide variety
of liquid cleaning supplies. Plastic barrels are a great way
to store several goods and materials and are a great option
for companies in many industries.
Chapter Six: Advantages of Metal and Plastic Barrels
The Advantages of Metal Barrels
Steel barrels are among the most widely used industrial storage
choices available today since they offer many fantastic
advantages to organizations. Some of these advantages are
Long-Lasting and Reliable Storing Options
Steel drums or metal barrels are strong and durable. Most
significantly, metal barrels are highly effective at preventing
damage to or contamination of the items kept inside. Steel
barrels are a great way to store a range of items and work well
to hold everything from pharmaceuticals to hazardous trash.
Steel barrels, which continue to be a popular alternative in the
food and beverage supply chain, are also a very durable solution
for keeping food products. Food can be safeguarded and kept
fresh in steel barrels, especially when combined with drum
liners. It is crucial to confirm that the steel barrel is
certified as "food grade" and that it hasn't previously been
used to hold potentially dangerous items before storing food
Easy to Clean and Maintain
Steel barrels are excellent for storing items because they are
quick to maintain and simple to use. In reality, if a steel drum
is kept clean and handled with the proper care and attention, it
can last for decades with proper maintenance.
Steel barrels should be cleaned after each usage, but don't
worry; they're simple to maintain and clean. Steel barrels can
be cleaned with standard cleaning supplies after emptying,
depending on what was put within.
Steel barrels may be reused often due to how simple they are to
clean and maintain. By ensuring this product has several uses,
one can save money on operating expenses while promoting
environmental protection. In addition, steel drums can be
completely utilized or disassembled and recycled into new
barrels at the end of their long lives.
Guarding Contents Against Light, Moisture, and Pests
Metal barrels offer protection from physical harm and airborne
contaminants, moisture, UV rays, and pests that can be present
near the storage location when they are securely sealed. A steel
drum can receive additional defense levels by adding waterproof
coverings, UV covers, or other protective coatings. These are
especially helpful if metal barrels are kept outside.
Customized Handles and Other Accessories
Metal barrels can be significantly customized to make them even
simpler to store, move, and ship across large distances. For
instance, many barrels have sturdy handles that make it possible
to move them swiftly and without using large gear.
A steel drum can also have various "accessories" attached to it.
A drum liner is the most typical accessory. This liner fits
within the barrel and prevents contamination between the stored
product and the steel.
Stackable to Save Space
Metal barrels are made to be used in factories. Hence they are
created with the ability to be stacked on top of one another.
Metal barrels are big and heavy when filled, but they can be
quickly lifted and moved about using industrial equipment like
forklifts. They can be conveniently stacked in warehouses for
storage or in lorries for shipment. Their design makes it easy
to move and transport them, reducing storage space requirements
and helping to save time and money.
The Advantages of Plastic Barrels
Lightweight compared to other storage containers like metal
drums, plastic barrels are highly portable. Other advantages of
plastic barrels are listed below.
Strength and Stability
Plastic is a very robust and resilient substance. Plastic
barrels are made of incredibly strong and resilient materials,
which lengthens their lifespan. Plastic barrels resist
weathering, temperature changes, and damp, humid, or moist
situations. Since plastic is resistant to the impact of
ultraviolet radiation, storing drums outside is not an issue. In
addition, plastic drums' strong and reliable seal guarantees
they won't leak or sweat while being stored or transported. What
distinguishes plastic from other sorts of materials is its
tenacity and sturdiness.
Value From Customization
Importantly, plastic barrels can be customized to carry various
substances and are mass-produced in various sizes, making them
an excellent value.
Reduced Demands on Landfills
The fact that recycled plastic barrels won't end up in a
landfill or garbage dump is an additional advantage. Plastic
barrels have numerous applications, so there is no longer a need
to figure out how to get rid of them, which considerably reduces
one component of the rising waste management issue.
The various polymers used to create plastic barrels are inert
and resistant to pH levels that are low or high. Therefore, they
are the best option for storing and delivering chemicals and
other potentially volatile materials because of this property.
Plastic barrels are inexpensive, which is a big factor in why
they have grown to be a prized asset. It's the key reason why
they gained popularity quickly after being introduced. Plastic
is simpler, less expensive, and more useful to create than
glass, metal, or any other storage container material. In
addition, years of usage with no signs of use, wear, or damage
are possible with plastic barrels.
The capacity to preserve and sustain our way of life for future
generations is sustainability. Plastic barrels can be reused in
countless ways once they have served their specific industrial
purpose. Plastic may be easily recycled and repurposed for other
purposes, in contrast to the other materials used to make drums.
Although this is true for steel and aluminum, the procedures for
recycling those materials are extremely difficult and
time-consuming. Plastic drums, on the other hand, may be easily
shredded and converted into plastic pellets.
Reconditioned, Refurbished, and Reusable
A growing industry is repurposing, reconditioning, and refurbishing discarded drums that no longer have industrial use. Though they may have outlived their industrial usefulness, they are still viable and sturdy containers. The process for repurposing drums and barrels involves a complex set of steps to ensure that a drum can be safely used for other applications.
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55 Gallon Drums
A 55 gallon drum is a cylindrical container made of a variety
of materials designed to hold 55 US gallons or 208 liters.
They are used for the shipment of large quantities of liquids,
chemicals, powders, granule compounds, and food ingredients...
A burn barrel is a metal drum that has been transformed and
modified to dispose of combustible trash, waste, and other
materials by incineration. Carefully constructed and
manufactured, burn barrels are a safe and convenient method
for disposing of...
Types of Storage 55 Gallon Drums
The 55 gallon drum came into existence over a hundred years
ago during the early discovery of oil. At the time, methods
used to transport crude were not sufficient to meet the
growing demand and bulk transport was limited to water or
An AGV forklift is a driverless self-operating robotic device
that has the ability to carry, lift, retrieve, and place loads
for easy transfer from one location to another. An automatic
guided vehicle (AGV) forklift is a computer controlled
A forklift truck is an electrical or gas powered industrial
piece of equipment with a metal fork platform attached to its
front that can be used to lift heavy loads by inserting the
fork platform under cargo, pallets, or...
A pallet stacker is a machine designed to assist the user in
lifting, moving and handling palletized materials with ease. A
pallet itself is a flat and horizontal structure used to
support goods in a sturdy fashion...
Plastic containers are material storage products made of a
variety of plastics. Plastics are an ideal material for
creating containers. They are known for their excellent
formability, degradation resistance, durability, lightweight,
recyclability, and controllable mechanical properties...
Plastic Corrugated Boxes
A plastic corrugated box is a disposable container with three
layers of material consisting of an inner layer, an outer
layer, and a middle layer on its sides. Corrugated plastic is
known by various names, including...
Plastic crates are containers used for moving or transporting
goods from point A to point B. They are also used for storage
and are made of exclusively or partially plastic material. The
basic material is plastic...
A plastic tank is a large capacity liquid or granular storage
unit that can be vertical, horizontal, below or above ground,
as well as movable. They are designed to hold several gallons
of a variety of substances for long periods without
experiencing wear, weathering, or deterioration...
Plastic Water Tanks
A plastic water tank is a large capacity container designed to
store water for household, agricultural, irrigation, and
industrial manufacturing use. There are various types of water
tanks produced to meet the needs of specific applications,