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

How to Clean Chemical Drums

December 16th, 2021 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: Industry News

Stainless steel drums are often used for contents needing ultra-clean surface protection. Furthermore, a chief benefit of stainless steel is that it is possible to sanitize and reuse the containers. But what about drums used for chemicals? Can chemical or chemical processing drums be re-used? And if so, how can you clean them?

Well, first and foremost, always wear personal protective gear when handling and cleaning industrial chemicals. Once you’re suited up for safety, consider the chemicals your drum was used for.

Depending on the former contents of the drum, one cleaning process utilizes pressurized wet steam. An efficient and effective sanitization method, systems exist that pressurize wet steam at temperatures between 240F and 330F to sanitize and degrease drums without introducing chemicals. The high temperature kills most bacteria on contact and breaks down remaining deposits. 

However, in the case of chemical drums, the former contents of the drum might not be water soluble. Acidic substances need to be neutralized before they can be safely cleaned. In this case, facilities should wash and rinse their drums at least three times with a suitable organic solvent such as acetone before using water for the final rinse.

Using the wrong substances to clean your chemical drum could cause an unwanted chemical reaction, so be sure to research what solvents work best and safely react with the former contents of your drum.

In the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, a popular type of stainless steel is Type 316. Type 316 stainless steel is incredibly heat tolerant and therefore can withstand high-temperature sanitization practices. 

While a pressurized system is highly effective, easy, and scrub-free, depending on the chemicals your drums previously held, it might be wise to scrub anyway.

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