Choosing 55 Gallon Drums

What to Look for When Choosing 55 Gallon Barrels

55 gallon drums are the most popular size of drum or barrel in use in the United States and Europe. A standard in storage and transportation of liquids and powders, 55 gallon barrels actually have many different uses, and as such, comes in many different materials. Getting the most use out of the steel drum means knowing what those uses are and what material is best suited to each individual’s needs.

Uses of 55 Gallon Drums

55 Gallon Barrels have many diverse uses for individuals as well as for industries. While individuals may use barrels for storing rain water, burn barrels, or livestock feed, another may choose to store extra petroleum; the type of 55 gallon drums that are perfect for one purpose may not be ideal for the next. Industries use barrels for still different reasons. One of the most common industrial uses of 55 gallon drums is for the shipping or storage of chemicals and petroleum. Because the drums easily fit onto wooden packing pallets, they are easily loaded onto shipping containers and transported across great distances. Some other companies have opted to store hazardous waste in such barrels and have even buried them.

Plastic Storage Drums
For those wanting to use 55 gallon drums as rain barrels or for other environmental uses, plastic is generally the best bet. These drums can usually be drilled for a spigot or hooked up to a gutter to allow for easy rain collection. They can also be used for storing dry goods or feed for livestock. New plastic drums should be made with a high-density plastic that holds up to environmental effects. Re-users of storage containers should be careful of where they obtain their container. If the drum has previously been used to store food or liquid goods, there may be a lingering residue. Anyone looking for a used barrel should make sure it is cleaned properly and was never used to store toxic materials.

Carbon Steel Barrels
Carbon steel 55 gallon barrels boast superior strength for storage needs. They are optimal for transporting or storing pharmaceutical chemicals, toxic materials, or biomedical waste. The steel should have between a 20 and 16 gauge thickness (0.9mm-1.5mm) and should be coated with rust and corrosion inhibitors to keep the barrel from breaking down and affecting the integrity of the materials inside. Lids should be epoxy lined for a solid seal on closure, and they can be sealed with either a sturdy bolt ring or with bung plugs and drum closures. If they are going to be used for storing hazardous materials, the barrels must be completely unused and must be UN certified.

Stainless Steel Drums
For the most secure transport, stainless steel cannot be beat. Stainless steel 55 gallon drums have the stronger corrosion resistance and reusability than carbon steel. Plus, the barrels are more resistant to dents and external pressures. Users should be aware of the composition of the steel. The most common composition for stainless steel is Type 304, which has 18% chromium and 8% nickel. As with carbon steel, stainless steel drums should be tested by the UN before using it to transport any toxic materials, and the lids should be epoxy lined for solid seals.

Whether a barrel is new or used, it should possess great tensile strength and material integrity. Any sign of corrosion on steel containers or residue in plastic containers can greatly affect whatever a person decides to store in the barrel. Whether used as a rain barrel or is used to transport petroleum, the right 55-gallon drums exist for nearly every purpose.