4 Steps to Choose the Best Drum Mixer for Your Application

Which Industrial Drum Mixer Is Right for Me?

The Cary Company sells over 200 industrial mixers and agitators with options from hand-held mixers to IBC tote mixers for open-top containers, tight head drums and everything in between. Each mixer is designed with particular applications in mind and choosing the wrong one can result in catastrophe – from employee accidents to money loss.

Drum MixerDrum Mixer

So how do you know what type of mixer you need for your specific application? We’ve compiled the basic steps you should take to help you choose the perfect tool for the job with our drum mixer guide: 4 Steps to Choose the Best Drum Mixer for Your Application. Before you get started, compile a list of batch size (how much you need to mix), container style (tight head 55 gallon drum, 5 gallon paint can, etc.) and material (viscosity, hazardous/non-hazardous)!

1. Select Your Drum Mixer's Mounting Style

The mount style for your drum or tote mixer determines how the mixer will fit with the container. Certain mount styles are ideal for open top 5 gallon pails whereas others work best for closed top tanks. Determining the size and style container you need to mix your fluid in will guide you to the mounting style required for your application.

Lab Mount MixersLab Mount Mixers

Lab: Lab mount mixers use an adjustable mounting bracket that allows for vertical positioning on a stand. Great from smaller open top containers such as 5 gallon pails, lab mount mixers often are used in laboratory settings and other chemical processing applications. 

Bung Mount MixersBung Mount Mixers

Bung: Bung mount mixers feature a removable bung adaptor that screws into standard 2” NPT bung holes allowing for use with closed top 55 gallon drums. When the bung adaptor is removed, bung mount mixers can also be used with open top drums and similar-sized containers.

Cover Mount MixersCover Mount Mixers

Cover: Cover mount mixers are top-entry mixers designed to be mounted on the cover of smaller containers including 5 gallon pails, 30 gallon drums, 55 gallon drums, etc. These pail and drum agitators typically feature smaller mixing blades and are suitable for lower viscosity liquids.

Clamp Mount MixersClamp Mount Mixers

Clamp: Clamp mount mixers use adjustable c-clamp to allow for positioning of the mixing shaft by clamping to the walls of open top drum, open top tanks or to mixer stands.

Saddle Plates are available as an add-on to clamp mount mixes to bolt onto your open top tank or drum for more permanent mounting. Saddle plates cab be added to any of The Cary Company’s Series 400 mixers for a permanently placed heavy-duty mixer.

Flange Mount MixersFlange Mount Mixers

Flange: Flange mount mixers are top-entry, vertical mixers with a plate intended for use with large capacity, closed top tanks or open top tanks when used with an additional support bridge. Standard flange size is 12” x 12” square, but additional flange shapes and sizes are available for compatibility with a wide range of tanks and other containers. 

Bridge Mount MixersBridge Mount Mixers

Bridge (Tote): Bridge mount mixers use heavy-duty clamps to secure the bridge across the container. Models with tote clamps such as the Series 5109 tote mixers are ideal for use with a variety of IBCs including industry standard IBCs, plastic totes and totes with or without a cage surrounding. Many bridge mount mixers are only compatible with open top containers, but the Series 5109 has collapsible turbines to allow for easy installation through small entries such as a 6” center cap as well.

2. Decide Your Drum Mixer's Type of Motor & Drive

Once you have decided what type of mounting style you need, determine the motor best suited for your application. Motor type is dictated by both performance desired and the mixing material’s flammability rating. Drive type is determined by the size and material of your application and the degree of precision needed to mix the materials.

Motor Type

Air Motors:

Air motors, also known as pneumatic motors are highly efficient as they cannot burn out or overheat. These lightweight, air-powered motors feature controlled torque and variable speed so you can control the rotation of the mixing shaft. Pneumatic motors are inherently explosion proof. Common applications of air-powered motors include: paint, chemicals, cosmetic, food, rubber, leather, etc.


Totally enclosed fan cooled (TEFC) motors offer increased protection against dirt and moisture compared to open electric motors as they do not allow outside air to circulate freely throughout the interior of the motor. The fan aids in the cooling process to help ensure the motor does not overheat. TEFC motors are versatile and suitable for a wide range of agitating applications.

Explosion Proof:

Explosion proof (X-Proof) motors are electric powered motors specifically intended to reduce the likelihood of sparks and explosions during use. X-Proof motors provide additional safety when mixing potentially volatile liquids such as flammables or a range of chemicals.


TENV motors are totally enclosed electric motors with no vent. As these motors are enclosed, they provide additional protection against outside debris compared to open electric motors. TENV motors are an economic option for low viscosity, small batch applications.

Drive Type

Direct Drive:

Direct drive agitators couple the mixing shaft directly to the motor. Direct drive mixers tend to run at higher speed and use relatively smaller mixing blades allowing them to be suitable for smaller batch sizes and lower viscosity fluids.

Gear Drive: 

Gear drive mixers use a gear reducer to create additional torque. While this lowers the shaft speed, gear drive mixers can handle larger batch sizes and higher viscosity fluids than direct drive mixers.

3. Determine Your Drum Mixer's Horsepower

To decide the horsepower needed for your mixing application, you must know the size of the batch, the viscosity of the liquid and the required batch turnover time. An important factor to consider when deciding the necessary horsepower is the temperature at which the material will be mixed. In many situations, viscosity increases as temperature decreases.

This table provides a basic recommendation for many types of mixing applications with a turnover time of approximately 1 to 2 minutes. You will have to increase horsepower for more rapid agitation.

4. Specify Your Drum Mixer's Shaft Length & Number of Mixing Blades

  • A general guide for mixing shaft length is to ensure that the bottom propeller is placed 1 to 2 propeller diameters from the bottom of the tank.
  • A single propeller is often used in applications where the depth of the material is equal to the diameter of the mixing container. If the material depth is greater than 1.5 times the diameter of the tank, dual propeller agitators are superior.

Ready to Start Shopping for Drum Mixers? 

This guide is intended to help you select the proper equipment for your application, but remember it’s the responsibility of the user to determine best suitability for their needs. Need more assistance? Contact a member of our expert sales team to help you decided what the best agitator is for your mixing application. – Call 630.629.6600 today!

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