Steel Drums 101

This post was written by

Many plants use steel storage drums in their processes. The way they are used is as varied as the thousands of types of manufacturing plants they are found in. Some of the most common uses are bulk storage/transport of chemicals and waste collection (liquid or solid). The liquids and chemicals they come in contact with are varied and the jobs they do change with your plant’s needs, so different kinds of drums are needed to match your application. But how do you know which one you need?

Salvage Drums

Construction material: Most drums are made of either carbon steel or stainless steel. Stainless steel offers better chemical resistance than carbon steel. So, if your plant uses aggressive chemicals or if there is a wide range of liquids the drum may come in contact with, a stainless steel drum will be more versatile and handle more jobs. The drums can also be lined for added corrosion resistance.
 
Steel thickness: The thickness of the metal is important depending on the reason you’re using a drum. Thicker drums are recommended for shipping hazardous liquids, as they’re stronger than thinner drums. Plus, the thicker the drum, the more weight and pressure it can handle. Most drums show something like this – 1.5/1.2/1.2 mm – when describing the thickness of the drum, but what does that mean? This shows the thickness of the different parts of the drum – lid/body/base. In the above example, that would mean that the lid is 1.5 mm thick, the body is 1.2 mm thick and the base is 1.2 mm thick. Most drums fall in the range of 0.9 – 1.5 mm thick.
 
Open-head and Closed-head salvage drums
 
Open or closed head: Drums are either open head (lid can be removed) or tight/closed head (lid is permanently secured). Open-head drums are typically used in situations where frequent addition or extraction of the contents occurs. Open-head drums make it easier to work with solids and thicker liquids (soils, absorbents, syrups, glues, oils, etc.) while tight-head drums are typically used with lower viscosity liquids.
 
The lid on an open-head drum is typically attached with a nut and bolt ring, which can be tightened to a particular torque to meet UN Rating requirements. You can also use quick-opening lever lock rings for easy access and closure, eliminating the need to use tools every time you want to remove the lid. New Pig has developed a unique latching lid system that enables users to open and close an open-head drum with ONE HAND and NO TOOLS. The latching lid system is the most convenient, easiest way to access your drum.
 
Bung threading: If you intend to use funnels to add liquids to your drum, or if you intend to add pump fittings for pumping liquids out of your drum directly into one of your processes, you will need to know what type of bung (top opening) is on the lid. A tight/closed-head drum would typically have 2 bungs, one 2” and one ¾” in diameter. The threads on the bungs are almost always NPT (National Pipe Taper), but occasionally could be Buttress type instead. NPT threads are a fine thread and Buttress threads are a coarse thread. They also have different head styles, which may require a specialized tool for tightening.
 

An example of the different types of bung threads

An example of the different types of bung threads


 
Unlike straight pipe threading that is used to join two pieces of pipe together, NPT-threaded fittings will pull tight to make a liquid-tight seal. Most steel drums have NPT-threaded bung openings and caps. Buttress threads are also designed to form a liquid-tight seal, but are larger and coarser than NPT threads. Buttress threads are also known as “saw threads” and are designed to handle high stress, such as tightening a funnel into the bung opening. Typically, Buttress-threaded openings and caps are found on plastic drums rather than steel.
 
Armed with this information, you can begin the process of choosing the correct drums for your facility. As always, if you need help, give us a call at 1-800-HOT-HOGS or go online to www.newpig.com and chat with our Customer Service representatives!
 

7 Responses to “Steel Drums 101”

  1. Pitz Bonilla says:

    What is the maximum temperature a steel drum can go or used?

    • Brock says:

      In general, there are no set temperature limits for steel drums. Given that our drums are mostly used to contain hazardous materials, we must handle this type of question with extreme caution. Some drum users reference the operating temperature range for EPDM gaskets which is -40 to 150 F (this is the gasket that is used on most of our drums). While others may refer to the extreme melting points of carbon steel (2,600 F) or stainless steel (2,750 F).
       
      Any set temperature limit is really dictated by the material that is placed in the drum. For example, if a customer places a chemical in the drum with a flash point of 90 F, then the temperature limit would be less than 90 degrees. Other users may place a product in the drum with a boiling point of 100 F. In this case, if the temperature of the drum and the product inside exceed 100 degrees the product would begin to boil, building up pressure in the drum to the point where the drum could possibly fail or explode. Another key consideration here is the UN liquid rating that shows the hydrostatic pressure rating for the drum (example: UN 1A1/X1.8/300). This rating would need to be taken into consideration along with the temperature variables of the product being placed in the drum.
       
      Lined drums are another case all together. Our lining and paint are both cured at 425 F. Now, assuming that a lined drum is empty and heated to a temperature of 450 F for 3 hours or more, the lining will start to show signs of failing (peeling, discoloration etc). However, if the drum is filled with maple syrup at a temperature of 450 F and immediately begins to cool the lining should perform just fine. The key variable in this question is the material that is being placed in the drum, average temperature of the drum/product and time. Some chemicals may become more aggressive at 200 F and cause immediate lining failure, while others will have no adverse reaction what so ever no matter how long the drum is in use.
       
      In summary, we feel that in order to answer the “temperature limit” question one must always take into consideration the product inside the drum more so than the drum itself.

  2. shida says:

    hi.can you help me to source 200L open top steel drum? can you give me the price per unit? await your prompt reply.thanks

    • Jen says:

      Hi shida,

      Monica, one of our Tech’s at New Pig, has the answer for you. Please see the information below your comment, or you can read it here. If you’d like to call in to place an order or talk to our Tech team, please call us at 1-800-HOT-HOGS:
      “We sell a few different versions of 55 gallon open head steel drums.
      First, We offer the lever lock version, DRM837. This is a quick style method of opening the drum, rather than the standard bolt and ring closure that can be harder to open and close. These are good if you need to open the lid multiple times a day.
      We also have the bolt ring closure version, with three different UN ratings , DRM340, DRM423, and DRM844.
      Finally there are open head drums with lids that have bungs, if you need to put a pump or vent in the drums, and those parts are DRM975, DRM974, and DRM973.
      Which one you choose depends on your preference, as well as the required UN rating, if shipping in these drums.
      Please let us know if you have questions on these products.”

  3. Monica says:

    We sell a few different versions of 55 gallon open head steel drums.

    First, We offer the lever lock version, DRM837. This is a quick style method of opening the drum, rather than the standard bolt and ring closure that can be harder to open and close. These are good if you need to open the lid multiple times a day.

    We also have the bolt ring closure version, with three different UN ratings , DRM340, DRM423, and DRM844.

    Finally there are open head drums with lids that have bungs, if you need to put a pump or vent in the drums, and those parts are DRM975, DRM974, and DRM973.

    Which one you choose depends on your preference, as well as the required UN rating, if shipping in these drums.

    Please let us know if you have questions on these products.

  4. Eric Stark says:

    What is the maximum amount of pressure can a closed top drum take from the inside before bulging?

    • Jen says:

      Hi Eric,

      Good question. And the answer is…it depends on the drum. NON-UN rated drums are not tested for this. UN rated drums are.
       
      For example, when you see a rating of UN 1A1/x1.8/300…the 300 refers to the hydrostatic pressure the drum has been tested to withstand, in kilopascals.
       
      Does this help?

Leave a Reply


+ 5 = twelve