Plastic vs Steel Drums: 5 Tips to Choose the Right One

The materials used in shipping and packing have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line. If you’re not using the ideal packaging for your purposes, spotting rates and packaging expenses may quickly pile up, therefore it’s vital in every manner to use packaging materials that are fully prepared to keep your staff and your goods safe.

On the other hand, if you need drums for storing materials in your home, you also need to know which option is appropriate for what material.

We’ll look at a common decision that shippers have to make – whether to utilize a plastic or steel drum.

When utilized for the correct applications, each of these standard drum materials has its own set of benefits, and each is a practical and cost-effective solution.

Strength and durability

Plastic vs Steel Drums

Steel drums are the best choice when it comes to strength and durability. When compared to plastic drums, they can endure greater forces, accidents, and torque damage.

Steel drums are therefore utilized in industrial applications that require fire-resistant containers or drums that can survive extreme circumstances.

Plastic drums are made of exceptionally resistant and durable plastic materials, which extends their lifespan. Weathering, temperature changes, moisture, high humidity levels, or high moisture conditions are not a problem for example for a 55 gallon plastic drum.

Also, plastic drums aren’t prone to corrosion, unlike metal ones, making them perfect for storing water-based liquids and for keeping them in high moisture spaces or outside.


When comparing plastic and metal drums, one element to consider is price. Although the prices of metal and plastic drums are nearly comparable, plastic drums are always less expensive.

If you’re shipping using drums, you should consider using plastic drums if the regulations are followed appropriately. The potential savings will be substantial.

Even with your own projects, think about what you need and choose the cheapest alternative that meets your requirements. To save money, try purchasing old metal drums.


Weight is another significant factor to consider, especially when transporting or storing items. Plastic drums are approximately half the weight of steel drums on average. To calculate the overall load, multiply the weight of the drum by the weight of the item held per gallon.

Given that all other criteria are satisfied, the cost of the drum can make a significant difference in big volumes.

Furthermore, if you want to store liquids on a structure designed to support a specific load, the type of drum you employ will be the decisive factor in lowering the overall weight. Plastic is the clear victor in terms of weight.

Food and liquid storage

If you’ve ever stored liquids like juice or even food items like seafood, you’ve probably noticed that plastic drums tend to retain the scent and taste of whatever you’re storing.

If you chose to store something else, the flavor from the prior item may seep into the new item. Despite the fact that this is a significant disadvantage of plastic, steel cannot be used because water and other liquids include traces of chlorine and oxygen molecules, causing the steel to corrode and merge with the liquid.

Plastic barrels are a better choice for holding liquids such as water. However, if you want to avoid your stored objects getting a peculiar flavor, consider utilizing new drums.

You may also wash the plastic containers completely to remove hazardous microorganisms and make them more suited for storing liquids and dry goods.

Storage of toxic substances

Companies keep harmful chemicals in metal drums when transporting them since they are non-reactive and stronger.

Furthermore, certain regulations require the storage of these compounds in steel drums. Living in a rural place, especially one that is far from a gas station may need stockpiling several months’ worth of fuel.

Steel drums are the finest option for storing fuel or any hazardous chemical. However, some toxic acids require special drums to be stored in, or else they will bite through other materials and leave the container making a hazardous mess.

Final thoughts

Plastic and steel drums are used to ship and store items in a variety of industries. You may be considering purchasing one and are unsure which type is the best.

Because it is dependent on the objects stored and your budget, there is no definitive answer. Take these into consideration when deciding what to utilize.

If you’re not sure if the substance you want to store in a drum is better stored in a metal or plastic drum, it’s best to consult with a professional. Always remember that some substances require drums made from special materials to hold.

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