Industrial Packaging for Critical Contents

Drum It Up! Steel Drum Industry News, Trends, and Issues

Open Head vs Tight Head drums

December 5th, 2013 by Lisa Stojanovich

Filed under: Industry News

In terms of heads, there are two types of drums, open head and tight head.  The open head drum has a fully removable cover and only the bottom is seamed.  The tight head drum has both ends seamed and no removable lid and access is through fittings, usually 2” and ¾” in the top. Both drums types can be United Nations (UN) and Department of Transportation (DOT) certified for hazardous materials or dangerous goods.

Different tools or special procedures are used depending on the materials and gauges used to construct the drums, but both types start with a welded cylinder.  Next, open head drums have one end flanged which becomes the bottom of the drum and the other end is curled to create a seat for the removable top.  On a tight head drum both ends are flanged and thus permanently sealed, so both ends of a tight head drum look like a “bottom.”  Typically for tight a head drum there are only two hoops added along the vertical drum equidistant from the middle, while an open head drum may have three hoops in varying distances along the vertical side of the drum.  An open head drum may also have a gasket or fittings in the covers.

These wine barrels are an example of a tight

head drum, the top and bottom cannot be removed.

Whether an open or closed head drum, to insure the integrity of the closure system, and to help guarantee the safe storage of contents, the drum needs to be closed properly in accordance with each manufacturer’s Closure Instructions. It is imperative that whoever is handling the drum understands the procedures for the specific closure type that is being used.  There are two main types of closures for open head drums, lever lock and bolt rings.  Both closures will help protect contents of the drum from spills or contamination, but it is important to know which closure will work best for each drum and expected contents.  The Bolt Ring closure consists of a closure ring with welded lugs through which a bolt and nut will secure closure. The Leverlock is a toggle-style closure, has no removable parts, and is a much faster method of closure than the bolt ring. Closure instructions can be found anytime on the Skolnik website in both written (English and Spanish)  and video form to help customers safely secure open head drums.

An open head drum with a Bolt Lock and another with a Lever Lock closure


In almost any industry where contents need to be shipped, drums are used, therefore it is important to make sure contents are being stored in the proper type of drum.  Open heads are best used for solids and viscous liquids.  When items such as honey, paint, or even radioactive waste are being shipped or stored an open head drum should be used.  Tight heads are best used for liquids, contents that can be easily drained through the fittings, such as flavors, fragrances, or beverages.

Whatever is being shipped, the proper drum makes all the difference in reducing risk and safe passage. Skolnik Industries is dedicated to giving its customers exceptional quality and service.

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