55 Gallon Steel Drums

A Guide to 55 Gallon Steel Drums

The industry standard in shipping, storage, and containment of hazard materials, 55-gallon steel drums are in constant use in world trade and transport. The drums are sold primarily to industries and businesses that need to move large amounts of goods, including but not limited to food stuffs, oil, water, or even nuclear waste. Designed for structural integrity, these containers are perfect for the easy storage and transport of liquids, solids, and hazardous materials.

55 Gallon Steel Drums – Dimensions and Specifications

Today’s containers derive their dimensions and specifications from shipping requirements set by the military during the second World War. Each drum holds an average of 55 gallons or 208 liters of materials, though the exact amount varies with the exact composition and design of the barrel. The standard thickness of the steel is between 0.9 and 1.5 mm (20-16 gauge steel), and the drums are often reinforced with ribs or rolling hoops at both the top and bottom of the barrel as well as at each third of the barrel’s height. Typically, the drums are 33.5 Inches/851 mm tall with a standard diameter of 22.5 in/572 mm, though some designs may be narrower and taller to allow for efficient transport.

Easy to Transport
Their standard dimensions allow for four 55-gallon steel drums to fit snugly and easily on a typical wooden shipping pallet. Storing the drums on such pallets allows for great ease of transport, as forklifts can more easily load and unload pallets between shipping containers and individual transport vehicles. From there, barrels can be individually moved using drum cranes or rolled by individuals. Because of their reinforced rolling hoops, steel drums can be rolled on their sides without affecting the structural integrity of the drum itself or the contents contained within.

Drum Closures
Steel containers can have several different drum closures depending on the material being transported. For liquids or hazardous materials, the 55-gallon steel drums typically have a welded top with two bung holes on opposite sides of the barrel head. These bung holes make filling and emptying the containers with drum pumps quick and convenient, and they also facilitate easy reuse of the barrels for the same purpose later. Other drums used to transport solids or more viscous liquids may feature an open top sealed with a specially fitted removable top and a carefully fitted bolt ring closure. These can be tightened and loosened with a standard wrench.

Hazard Materials and UN Standards
Because steel containers are often used to transport hazardous materials or merely liquids which may be contaminated by exposure to the elements, most 55-gallon steel drums are required to meet construction and performance standards as regulated by the United Nations. Not only must the closures pass rigorous inspection to ensure a seamless seal, the drums themselves must undergo physical stress tests, evaluating the drums’ ability to hold up against stacking pressure, extreme temperatures, drops, vibrations, and more. Any steel drum used to transport biomedical waste or other hazardous materials or sometimes even to ship non-dangerous goods overseas must pass inspection by UN officials.

With such rigorous testing, 55-gallon steel drums are durable, strong, and dependable. Because of this, industries and business the world over use steel drums daily to transport and store oil, wine, nuclear waste, and more of the goods that we encounter every day.