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

Unpacking UN Ratings: The 1A2 Drum

September 22nd, 2016 by Natalie Mueller

Filed under: DOT/UN, HazMat

The shipping and transportation of dangerous goods or hazardous materials is a tightly regulated process — and rightly so! You wouldn’t want to be on an aircraft or train or sharing the roads with just any old material packaged any old way. These materials require a special container that meets criteria set by the DOT and the UN. And, it is the responsibility of the shipper to choose the correct packaging for their materials.

At Skolnik Industries, we’re always happy to help our customers select the best container for their needs. To start, let’s take a look at UN ratings and what they mean.

Many of our products UN rating begins with a 1A, we’ll talk about why that is in a moment, but for the sake of this exploration let’s say that you worked with the team at Skolnik and we discerned that you need a container with a 1A2/X60/S UN rating for your hazardous materials.

First, you’re in luck, Skolnik has several hazardous waste containers that fit that specification.

But what do those numbers mean?


Well, the 1 refers to the fact that it is a drum, not a wooden barrel, box, bag or some other type of container.

Here are the UN codes for other containers:

1 – drum

2 – wooden barrel

3 – jerrican

4 – box

5 – bag

6 – composite receptacle

7 – pressure receptacle


The following letter tells us the material of the container, in this case an A for steel.

Other material codes:

A – steel

B – aluminum

C – natural wood

D – plywood

E – reconstituted wood

G – fiberboard

H – plastic

L – textile

M – paper, multiwall

N – metal other than steel or aluminum

P – glass, porcelain or stoneware


So far we’ve determined that we need a steel drum, our specialty! But what about the second number? This number refers to the drum head. The 2 means that it is an open head drum. (A closed-head drum would be marked with a 1).

We’ve cracked the first part of the code: we need a 1A2 container, or a steel, open head drum!

If you want to dig deeper, our example UN rating was 1A2/X60/S – so what are the other parts?


The X designation tells us what level of hazardous materials your packaging can be used for. The rating is either an X, Y or Z. Packing group I is the most hazardous and packing group III is the least.

X – covers hazardous packing group I, II or III

Y – covers packing groups II and III only

Z – covers packing group III only

What a versatile drum we’ve chosen!


That next number refers to the maximum gross mass the container has been tested to handle, in our example 60kg. The final S indicates that this is the UN rating for solids for this container (Liquids ratings differ in that they communicate the maximum specific gravity of liquid that the container has been tested to hold instead of mass, liquid ratings also indicate the maximum hydrostatic pressure the container can hold).
So there you have it, when we say you need a 1A2 drum, that means it is a steel, open head drum – the remaining code elements tell you what your container is safe to carry.

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4 Responses

  1. P C HIREMATH says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    We would want to know about 1A2 drums availability at your end. Can you share the price of these drums in India. We are Bharat Forge Limited and require these drums for storage. your response is awaited at the earliest.

  2. Hello and thank you for your inquiry. I see that in addition to this request, you also sent in a product request from our web site, http://www.skolnik.com. Therefore, one of our Client Representatives will be contacting you shortly to discuss your steel drum requirements.
    Thank you,
    Howard Skolnik

  3. Ansar Firdosi says:

    We would like to determine the UN rating for an open head drum for a Flammable liquid specific gravity 1.1 and DOT rating for this liquid is Name – Resin solution UN 1866 Class 3 Packaging group II. The drum will be shipped by Ground. Do you carry Epoxy/Phenolic lined open head drum for this resin solution.Please provide us the UN rating for a suitable drum.
    Thanks for your response.

  4. Hello and thank you for your inquiry. Skolnik manufactures steel drums that meet the UN requirements for dangerous goods. It is not possible for us to recommend a complaint package for a specific contents since we do not know the specific properties of your product. It is your task to contact the DOT Help Desk, your shipper, or a DG consultant to determine the specific package that will be needed to be compliant. Once you have this criteria, we can then help you select the appropriate container for your shipping needs. If you need more help on this issue, you can also call our Help Desk at 1-800-441-8780 or by emailing sales@skolnik.com.
    With thanks,
    Howard Skolnik

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