The most ubiquitous of the steel drum family is the 55 gallon steel drum. Whether you’re watching a movie, playing a video game or just walking in the vicinity of a plant, factory or construction site, you will probably run into a 55 gallon steel drum. In fact, at Skolnik, the 55 gallon is among our most popular and top ordered products.
However, every 55 gallon steel drum you see is not created equal. Some drums are used for waste collection, some for chemical transport, some for food storage, and each drum is constructed with a specific purpose in mind. It is very important that you discern and order the right drum for the job.
The primary factors that come into play when deciding which drum your organization needs are also the primary features of any given drum: construction material, steel thickness, head type and bung threading.
Most drums are made of either carbon steel or stainless steel. The primary utility difference between the two is stainless steel’s elevated chemical resistance. While carbon steel drums are often used to store and transport hazardous liquids, plants that utilize aggressive chemicals often favor the versatility of a stainless steel drum. Regardless of construction material, many plants choose to line their drums for added corrosion resistance.
Unsurprisingly, thicker drums are recommended for shipping more hazardous liquids. The thicker the drum the more pressure and weight it can handle. The standard denotation of thickness is X/Y/Z mm – this is representative of the thickness of lid/body/base.
Open or closed head
Drums either have an open head, where the lid can be removed, or a closed or tight head, where the lid is permanently secured. Open-head drums are favored in situations where the contents need to be accessible for addition or extraction, often times solids and thicker liquids, whereas tight-head drums are the preferred choice for lower viscosity liquids.
If you intend to add or extract liquids from your drum via funnel or pump, you will need to know what type of bung, or top opening, is available on the lid. Bung threads are almost always National Pipe Taper, but it’s always smart to double check as you might have a Buttress threaded bung. Both types of thread are designed to create a liquid-tight seal.
We hope that this exploration of the anatomy of a steel drum better helps you make the right product decision for your drum’s purpose. However, never hesitate to consult with the Skolnik team on any questions or concerns you may have. We’re always happy to share our expertise on our popular 55 gallon drums or any specialty or customized drum your operation may require.