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

Archive for July, 2020

PHMSA Issues Safety Advisory for COVID-19 Diagnostic Samples.

July 28th, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: DOT/UN, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

PHMSA plays a leading role in ensuring the safe transportation of hazardous materials in commerce throughout the United States. As a result of the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, certain shipments of COVID-19 diagnostic samples (e.g., nasal swabs, vials of sputum, and other related items) are classified as a Category B infectious substance (Division 6.2) hazardous material under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).

Recent compliance inspections and found several instances of improperly marked or packaged diagnostic samples that were offered for transportation. In response, PHMSA is issuing this Safety Advisory Notice to provide information on the HMR related to offering and transporting these materials.

Overpack for 55 Gallon Drums

July 23rd, 2020 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

You can’t beat a 55 gallon barrel. Not only is it the go-to container for numerous industries and uses, it’s also the iconic steel drum. When you picture a steel barrel, you picture a 55 gallon. And so it’s no wonder that this favored workhorse is a common container for overpack usage as well.

Skolnik’s 55 gallon drum for overpack is tested for solids and certified according to UN criteria. These drums qualify as secure outer packaging for overpack situations.

That is to say, they are manufactured and certified to provide protection or convenience handling a package or to consolidate two or more package (as in a multipack). You’ll note we mentioned they were tested for solids. An overpack drum is not meant to hold a leaking or compromised container. That situation calls for a salvage drum. 

In the most simple terms, an overpack drum is a larger container into which a smaller one can be placed. More often than not, overpack drums are used to make it easier to handle multiple packages or items. At Skolnik, we hold our overpack drums to the same rigorous standards that we do any other container — our overpack drums are pressure tested at 1A2/X plus 15 psa hydrostatic pressure per CFR 49 for the over-packing of Toxic by Inhalation packaging. And, as always, our 55 gallon TIH (PIH) overpack drums are the most popular of the bunch. Considered large enough to hold multiple packages or a smaller container, but not too large so as to complicate shipping or storing.


If an overpack drum is sold as a salvage drum, the DOT will hold both the manufacturer and distributor liable and both parties could face a fine. However, if an overpack is used as a salvage drum, the shipper is also liable. So take care to use containers certified for your use case and materials.

Why and How: Face Masks!

July 21st, 2020 by Howard Skolnik

Filed under: Industry News, Safety, Skolnik Newsletter

Face masks are one tool utilized for preventing the spread of disease. They may also be called dental, isolation, laser, medical, procedure, or surgical masks. Face masks are loose-fitting masks that cover the nose and mouth, and have ear loops or ties or bands at the back of the head. There are many different brands and they come in different colors. It is important to use a face mask approved by the FDA.

Facemasks help limit the spread of germs. When someone talks, coughs, or sneezes they may release tiny drops into the air that can infect others. If someone is ill a face masks can reduce the number of germs that the wearer releases and can protect other people from becoming sick. A face mask also protects the wearer’s nose and mouth from splashes or sprays of body fluids.

Consider wearing a face mask when you are sick with a cough or sneezing illness (with or without fever) and you expect to be around other people. The face mask will help protect them from catching your illness. Healthcare settings have specific rules for when people should wear face masks.

Disposable face masks should be used once and then thrown in the trash. You should also remove and replace masks when they become moist. Always follow product instructions on use and storage of the mask, and procedures for how to put on and remove a mask. If instructions for putting on and removing the mask are not available, then follow the steps below.

How to put on a Face Mask

Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask. Remove a mask from the box and make sure there are no obvious tears or holes in either side of the mask. Determine which side of the mask is the top. The side of the mask that has a stiff bendable edge is the top and is meant to mold to the shape of your nose. Determine which side of the mask is the front. The colored side of the mask is usually the front and should face away from you, while the white side touches your face. Follow the instructions below for the type of mask you are using. Face Mask with Ear loops: Hold the mask by the ear loops. Place a loop around each ear.

If your Face Mask has Ties, bring the mask to your nose level and place the ties over the crown of your head and secure with a bow. Then take the bottom ties, one in each hand, and secure with a bow at the nape of your neck. Pull the bottom of the mask over your mouth and chin.

If your Face Mask has Bands, hold the mask in your hand with the nosepiece or top of the mask at fingertips, allowing the headbands to hang freely below hands. Bring the mask to your nose level and pull the top strap over your head so that it rests over the crown of your head. Pull the bottom strap over your head so that it rests at the nape of your neck. Mold or pinch the stiff edge to the shape of your nose.

Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the mask. Avoid touching the front of the mask. The front of the mask is contaminated. Only touch the ear loops/ties/band. At the end of use, throw the mask in the trash. Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

What? A Wine Can Shortage?

July 14th, 2020 by Jon Stein

Filed under: Skolnik Newsletter, Wine

The US market has seen sales of canned wines exploding, as consumers can’t get enough of them. This has led to a slowdown in the supply of the cans, as Jeff Siegel recently reported in Wine Business International.

Jeff writes: “Drink Bev, a California canned wine producer, has seen its volume increase eight-fold over the past two years. Which should be a good thing, right? Right — apart from the pandemic-caused supply chain bottlenecks that are hampering can producers of all kinds, be it beer, wine, or soft drinks.”

“What we found so far, having trouble with getting cans, only kicked in recently,” says Alex Butti, the Vice President of Operations for Drink Bev, which makes 250 ml cans for two whites and a rose from California’s Central Coast. “When we were doing less volume, we had no trouble sourcing cans. But when we outgrew our vendors, finding cans in the short term has been difficult.”

The difficulty in finding supply is coming from increased demand from consumers, who have increased canned beverage consumption during the coronavirus lockdowns across the US, as well as the supply chain failing to keep pace with increased demand.

“The can shortage doesn’t seem to be as bad as was the case for toilet paper and hand sanitizer in the early days of the lockdown in April,” says Butti. “It’s smaller companies that are having problems; there are regional shortages and fewer canned beverages at some national supermarkets, though not widespread.”

“Supply chain issues have resulted in longer lead times to get cans for filling — anywhere from one to eight weeks,” says Butti, “it’s not about a supply shortage as much as it is about taking longer for cans to get from manufacturers to bottlers. In addition, inventories at bottlers are significantly smaller than they were at the beginning of the year.” US canned wine producers, package their product in three different sizes: 187 ml, 250 ml, and 375 ml. By comparison, most US beer and soft drinks come in 12-ounce (355 ml) cans.

“Yes, there is a very high demand for the 250 ml format for wine at this time, as it’s a popular size for most beverages, like water and coffee,” says Heather Clauss, Chief Commercial Officer for California’s FreeFlow Wines. “So, some of our customers have indeed had some challenges procuring cans.”

Here at Skolnik Industries, there’s no shortage of our Stainless Steel Wine Barrels. Note that our stainless steel wine barrels are reusable, easy to clean, and recyclable at the end of their service life. Check out the full line of our Stainless Steel Wine Drums here.

The Best Material for the Pharmaceutical Industry

July 13th, 2020 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Short answer: stainless steel. There are many different applications for stainless steel in the pharmaceutical industry: sanitary product handling, sample incineration, and many others, not the least of which being product-processing containers. Stainless steel drums are favored in the pharmaceutical industry for their durability, corrosive resistance and ease to thoroughly sanitize.

But just as there are numerous applications for stainless steel in the pharmaceutical industry, there are also numerous grades of stainless steel at work in the pharmaceutical industry.

The most popular stainless steels for pharmaceutical applications are grade 304, 316 and 316L

Stainless steel type 304 is widely popular in almost every industry due to its high resistance to chemical corrosion and oxidation. It is also often referred to as “surgical stainless steel,” so you could say it’s pretty important to the pharmaceutical industry. The largest downside to grade 304 is it’s susceptibility to chlorides.

The next friend to pharmaceuticals is grade 316 stainless steel. This type contains more nickel and molybdenum than 304, which helps rectify the chloride corrosion problem. Type 316 is incredibly heat tolerant, it has a maximum continuous use temperature of around 800°C (1,472°F). As such, it’s preferred for sample and materials handling and any other application that requires high-temperature sanitization to kill microbes. As popular as this stainless steel is in the pharmaceutical industry, it is also the go-to stainless steel for the food and cookware industry and is a favorite for navy applications.

A close cousin to 316 is type 316L, a low-carbon version of 316 that is even more corrosion resistant, weldable and stronger.

Stainless steel is easy to sanitize, difficult to damage, and holds up to harsh chemicals. It is no wonder that the pharmaceutical industry turns to stainless steel drums when it needs a durable, reliable and safe container for the storage or transport of samples and other medical grade materials.