Visual Guide: Reconditioning Process for Steel Drums

When companies want to use steel drums for a different product or purpose, or if there is any significant damage, the tight head or open head steel drums can undergo an extensive reconditioning process that primarily consists of cleaning, any repairs (if necessary) and repainting. Reconditioned steel drums are a popular choice for storing and transporting hazardous and flammable materials safely.

It is important to note that by the end of the reconditioning process, the drum will not be certified as food grade safe.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Reconditioning Process

This guide will go over both the process and why tight head and open head steel drums need to be reconditioned in the video. Each process will be slightly different due to the heading.

Tight Head Steel Drum Reconditioning Process

When a tight head steel drum is brought in for reconditioning, this is the process that it goes through.

Step 1: Rinse Out Remaining Contents

When working with tight head steel drums, it is important to note that they are used for a wide variety of products, including fragrances, beverages, low viscosity liquids and even hazardous materials (if they are UN Rated). If the drum is to be required for another application, the first step would be to rinse out the content that is in the drum to ensure it is empty.

Step 2: Submerge in a Chemical Bath

After the drum is rinsed out, we submerge it in a chemical bath to give it a thorough cleaning. This bath gets rid of any potential contaminants that did not get rinsed out initially. This can be dirt, dust, grease or other materials.

Step 3: Rinsed & Major Dents Reduced

The drum is rinsed from the chemical bath to get rid of the chemicals inside. If any major dents around the drum are visible, the drum is straightened out to get rid of them.

Step 4: Steamed, Rinsed & Siphoned Dry

After the drum is free of dents, the tight head container is steamed, rinsed and siphoned dry. This is to ensure that there are no chemicals inside of the drums and that it is dry for future steps.

Step 5: Drum & Plug Inspection

This is the first inspection in the reconditioned process. The primary objective is to ensure that the drum and plugs are still intact.

Step 6: Pressure & Leak Test

Companies want to test if their reconditioned drums can handle pressure and minimize leaks. The reconditioned steel drum goes through extensive pressure and leak tests that pass regulations set by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as well as the UN.

One of the most used tests is known as the submersion leak test. This involves submerging or dunking the drum into the water and seeing if any bubbles appear. If bubbles do appear in the water, which is compressed air escaping the drum, it is a good sign there is a leak.

Another popular test for pressure and leaks is known as the Hydrostatic pressure test. It is another test for leaks and also the strength of the drum by adding pressure inside.

Step 7: Rust Inhibitor Inside Coating

Once the reconditioned drum has passed the necessary tests, the inside of the drum is coating with a rust inhibitor. The main goal of adding in the rust inhibitor is to prevent rust from forming before the drum is filled with a new product.

Step 8: Final Inspection, Paint & Dry

To ensure that the drum is intact, went through every test and will not leak any product, the drum is inspected one last time before a fresh coat of paint is added. It is then left to dry and ready to be picked up by the customer.

Open Head Steel Drum Reconditioning Process

It is important to note that open head drums undergo a different reconditioning process due to the open head nature and removable cover.

Step 1: Drum Goes Through Furnance

The first step for reconditioning an open head steel drum is to place it in a furnace. This can burn off any residuals that may have remained from past use.

Step 2: Drum is Blasted Clean 

After going through the furnace, the surface of the drum is then blasted using a blasting machine. This is to to clean the outside surface of the drum from sand, rust, castings and more.

Step 3: Major Dents Reduced

Once the residuals are removed and the surface of the drum is cleaned, the drum is straightened out. Straightening out the drum can get rid of any major dents that are visible.

Step 4: Drum Interior is Washed

Once the drum is straightened out, the inside of the open head steel drum is washed out with water. This is to prepare for an interior liner and clean out any dust, sand or castings that were missed.

Step 5: Interior Liner Coat

Some reconditioned open head steel drums have a coat of an epoxy phenolic liner on the inside. This is to protect the inside of the drum from damage when storing chemicals, acid and solvents.

Step 6: Steam Flash Oven

The reconditioned container is a steam flash oven. This step is to dry the outside of the drum.

Step 7: Liner Coat Cure Oven

After the drum is put into the steam flash oven, it is placed inside a steam flash oven. This oven is able to try the liner coating that was applied in step 5.

Step 8: Exterior Coat Applied

After both the interior and exterior of the drum are dry, a final coating is placed on the outside of the reconditioned open head steel drum. This coat is used primarily to protect the inside content against moisture, weather conditions and chemicals.

Step 9: Final Drum Assembly

Once the coats have been applied and the final inspections have been made, a cover is applied. It is now prepared to be picked up by a customer. If there are drum fittings or other accessories that are needed, those would be applied as well.

Benefits of Using Reconditioned Drums

Whether you are using your reconditioned drum for chemicals, hazardous materials, waste and other solid products that are not FDA approved, there are a lot of benefits of using reconditioned drums.

A Cost-Effective Option

For companies that are looking to be more cost-effective with the containers that they bring in, reconditioned steel drums are a great choice. Putting drums through the reconditioning process allows companies to save money in comparison to constantly buying and bringing in new drums.

Quality & Reliability

It is common for reconditioned drums to have minor scratches and dents on the outside surface. However, despite their appearance, they can reliably hold and transport products easily without doubts of a loss in quality. Reconditioned drums continue to be a reliable choice for hazardous and flammable materials.

Environmentally Friendly

The reconditioned process allows users to be able to reuse the steel drum as long as they go through necessary cleaning, relying less on constantly needing new materials and discarding them.

In the Market for Reconditioned Drums?

The Cary Company has a wide variety of open head and tight head reconditioned steel drums, with lining, fitting and gasket options.

Want to know which reconditioned drum works for your product? We have product specialists available to answer any questions and find the perfect pallet. Give us a call at 630-629-6600 or email us at!

We also have resources available on what the difference is between reconditioned drums and used drums, a complete guide to steel drums, and more.