Stainless Steel Drum

Are you looking for a stainless steel drum for material handling in the pharmaceutical industry?

Well, you’re in luck today as this guide is going to cover the ins and outs of stainless steel drums.

Let’s get to it.

What is a Stainless Steel Drum?

A stainless steel drum, simply, is a drum made out of stainless steel material. It looks like this:

 Stainless steel drum

Stainless steel drum

Stainless steel material as we all know has high corrosion resistance, tensile strength, and reusability.

Due to this, stainless steel drums have become a widely popular choice for storing liquid and granulate substances.

These include food, industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

Generally, the features of stainless steel drums make them suitable for containing hazardous and volatile materials.

Or rather, materials that require drum purity and compatibility.

The drums are also useful in freight shipping. They help to protect sensitive freight from the ding-and-dent damage that usually occurs during ground shopping.

There benefits?

Benefits of Stainless Steel Drums

As I’ve said, stainless steel drums are a popular storage option in chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries.

This is due to a number of reasons that include;

Stainless steel drum

Stainless steel drum

· Durability

Durability is the most admirable feature of stainless steel as it makes it a superior material for storing any product.

Also, stainless steel drums’ durability makes them usable for years at a stretch-unlike most other materials that tend to wear and tear quickly.

· Corrosion resistant

We know that stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosive elements.

Water and moisture can’t harm these drums; they will not rust and become weak and unusable after some time.

The reason behind this resistance is chromium content present in the metal.

A little chemistry comes into play here as the chromium reacts with oxygen to form a very thin protective film on the drum.

This layer becomes a barrier against corrosion, whether from natural and environmental sources or exposure to chemicals.

And as we know, storage and transportation of chemicals and toxic products need special handling.

In this case, stainless steel drums come in very handy.

They are resistant to corrosives or contamination from outside sources.

· Uniform build

The uniform build is another factor that makes stainless steel drums the smart choice.

If you buy the drums in one size, storing them neatly in a stack becomes easy.

This factor will matter to you a lot more if you have limited storage area, and are trying to line up mismatched drums.

· Easy to clean

Stainless steel is easy to clean; the reason why stainless steel appliances are common in many kitchens.

The material is known to be nearly impenetrable to stains, and any build up is incredibly easy to wipe away.

Again, this is all thanks to the high chromium content present in stainless steel.

The chromium, as earlier mentioned, helps to block oxygen and prevent corrosive materials from penetrating the metal.

This is why stainless steel drums are preferred to use in areas where high sanitation is required, i.e. pharmaceuticals, chemical, and food industries.

· Eco-friendly

Compared to plastic and other materials, stainless steel is vastly more eco-friendly.

Stainless steel drums in this sense are strong, durable, and easy to clean.

This means that they can be used over a long period thus helping to reduce pollution-especially plastic pollution.

· Economic

As I said earlier, stainless steel drums can be used over time as they are highly durable.

It is this durability and low maintenance advantage that makes stainless steel drums an economical option for liquid storage.

Summing up the benefits, you can see there are many perks to choosing stainless steel drums for storage purposes.

The drums are not only durable, corrosion and temperature resistant, and easy to maintain, but also versatile.

With this in mind, let’s find out what types of stainless steel drum options there are in the market.

Types of Stainless Steel Drums

Stainless steel drum types vary greatly.

You can get them in different grades, sizes, and designs.

Meaning, you need to be specific when buying your drum/s as you’ve to ensure that you get a drum that meets your needs.

Here are the different types of stainless steel drums according to:

· Grades of stainless steel

Stainless steel metal is available in different grades.

You need to know which grades can create the most appropriate, and safest storage for your needs.

There are very many grades of this metal.

Commonly, however, drum manufacturers produce stainless steel drums in three grades; 304,316 and 409.

Grades of stainless steel material

Grades of stainless steel material

This because the above grades tend to have excellent corrosion resistance.

Note that each of the stainless steel grades has the benefits that make them suitable for individual applications.

Grade 316 for instance, is known to be the strongest stainless steel metal.

Thus, it’s ideal for use in pharmaceutical applications that require the best quality protection for materials.

Also, its high rust resistance property makes it an ideal choice for applications that require a high level of sanitation.

The resistance also makes 316 stainless steel drums ideal for long term storage of materials.

Grade 304, is the most common among industry users.

It is lower than grade 316 and is mostly preferred for use in the food industry.

Pharmaceuticals can also store nitric acid products in 304 stainless steel drums as they’re best recommended for it.

In comparison to the two grades above, 409 is the more affordable grade of stainless steel.

It is also a lower grade than the two, and it offers less protection.

· Design of stainless steel drum

There is a wide range of stainless steel drum designs to choose from.

For instance, there are the open head drums that come with a cover (removable lid) secured with a closure.

Different designs of stainless steel drum

Different designs of stainless steel drum

These are easier to work with especially if your application requires frequent addition or extraction of material.

If you don’t need an open head drum, you can opt for the closed/tight head drum.

This type comes with a tight lid that’s non-removable.

It is suitable for use when you need to store liquid materials with low viscosity.

And, when you need long term product storage and protection.

The drum, note, comes with a bunghole at the top that allows access to contents.

Other design features that differentiate stainless steel drums are reinforcement rings and linings.

· Size of stainless steel drum

Their size can also identify stainless steel drum types.

This is mostly based on their volume or capacity and gauge.

If you want to buy a stainless steel drum based on size, you have to be able to identify the capacity that you want.

Different sizes of stainless steel drum

Different sizes of stainless steel drum

The capacity ranges from 5-110 gallons while gauges range from 20-16 gauge.


Other than size, metal grade, and design, stainless steel drums can also be identified by their color.

Usually, these drums are made in color black and sometimes, left with the shiny stainless steel surface.

However, you can have the drum made in any color that you want, i.e. red, yellow, green, brown, gray, etc.

Just make your request upon ordering, and your supplier will have the drum in your color of choice.

The different colors, note, allow you to keep track of what you’ve stored in different drums without having to open them.

You can quickly glance at say, 10 drums, and easily tell the contents of each drum.

Main Components of Stainless Steel Drums

Unlike most other pharmaceutical and chemical equipment, drums are not at all complex.

 Components of stainless steel drum

Components of stainless steel drum

They are simple storage structures made up of the following parts and components:

i. Drum

This is the entire structure of the stainless steel drum.

Usually, it’s cylindrical and can be made in different colors.

ii. Handle

Some stainless steel drums come with handles on the side for easy handling.

I.e., you can hold the handle when moving the drum from one place to another.

Or, when pouring contents out of it.

The handles mostly are located centrally on each side of the drum.

iii. Gaskets

Gaskets in stainless steel drums are used to seal the drum when closed.

This is to prevent the lid from accidental lifting/or falling off.

They are also used to help prevent material leakage during storage, handling or shipping.

Gaskets are made out of a variety of materials but mostly, Neoprene, Teflon, Rubber, and Cellulose.

iv. Bungholes, Flanges, and plugs

When you look at the top of most stainless steel drums, you’ll notice two holes in them.

The two holes are the bungholes.

In liquid tight drums, the holes provide a way through which contents can be poured from the drum.

See below picture:

Stainless steel drum cover

Stainless steel drum cover

Now the holes as you can see are not left open.

Instead, closure attachments known as flanges are permanently inserted into them.

Then, plugs are screwed into the holes to help seal the drum.

i. Cover and closures

Open head stainless steel drums have lids/tops that cover the drum.

The covers are made of the same material as the drum.

And to stay secure, the covers are often tightened with a bolt or lock ring closure.

A bolt ring closure, note, is a type of closure ring that secures the lid on to the body of the drum by encompassing the cover and the top of the container in a groove.

This ring is then tightened by a bolt that pulls the ends of the rings together.

A calibrated torque wrench is used to confirm proper closure (for conformity with UN ratings).

A lock ring closure, on the other hand, holds the lid on to the drum with a latch.

The latch is pulled from one side to the other and applies torque to the two ring ends in a similar fashion to the bolt ring.

No torque wrench is required to confirm proper closure.

ii. Lining

The lining, basically, is the coated interior of the drum.

Note that stainless steel drums can be lined or unlined depending on your requirements.

Lined interiors have an additional interior coat that is meant to help protect the metal from stored material.

Also, lining helps to minimize drum cleaning and replacement (reducing waste) and to prevent product contamination.

The materials used to line stainless steel drums must always be FDA approved.

So make sure you confirm this when buying your unit.

Unlined drums, note, are equipped with rust inhibitors to help prevent rusting before filling the drum.

iii. Rolling Hoops

These are the hooped expansions on the body of the drum.

The hoops act as reinforcement rings to allow easy handling of drums when full.

Again, not all stainless steel drums feature rolling hoops.

Some, known as straight-sided drums, don’t have the circles.

So basically, these are the parts of a stainless steel drum that you should know.

We can now focus on the quality standards to look out for when purchasing a stainless steel drum.

Quality Standards for Stainless Steel Drums

Before buying any stainless steel drum, it is essential that you verify its quality.

You must confirm its resistance to hostile conditions and corrosive properties.

Also, you must verify any possible direct chemical reaction with materials during transportation.

As well as, how the material reacts to the changing climatic conditions.

You need to know if the drum can preserve stored material no matter the conditions.

Luckily, most stainless steel drums during and after manufacture undergo stringent quality control.

This is to ensure that they conform to the set industry quality standards.

They especially should be cGMP compliant and the materials used should be FDA approved.

Quality standards

Quality standards

Other standards of compliance that you should look for are ISO, GMP, ASTM, among others.

Applications of Stainless Steel Drum in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Stainless steel combines both aesthetic qualities and proven resistance to most hostile chemical compounds.

Because of this, stainless steel drums have become predominantly popular in many industries.

Particularly, in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

Stainless steel drums

Stainless steel drums

In the later, these drums are particularly preferred as they help provide maximum possible protection from contamination.

They’re mainly used to;

  • store liquid and granulate substances
  • mix dry and dump material
  • granulate tablets
  • ship material from one location to another
  • control material contamination

The general application of stainless steel drum in the pharmaceutical industry is to store, handle and ship materials.


All in all, stainless steel drums are perfectly viable for storing liquid and granulate substances.

And as with everything else, there are a few minor pros, but overall you’ll be happy buying and using them.

My advice: buy your drum/s online from a quality and reputable stainless steel drums supplier.

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