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Can you store fuel in a plastic drum?

Plastic drums are one of the most versatile and cost-effective containers suited to industrial storage and transport needs, because they are suitable for a wide range of different materials, including harmful chemicals and hazardous waste.

However despite their versatility, plastic drums aren’t always appropriate for storing fuel, such as petrol or diesel. Fuels are commonly needed on industrial sites, but you need to be careful about how you store it, so selecting the correct storage containers is imperative for meeting health and safety requirements.

In this article, our experts explain why plastic drums are not suitable for storing fuel and take a look at some of the best alternatives.

The Hazards of Storing Fuel

Fuel is essential to many businesses, so it’s crucial that industrial sites and companies know how to safely store and transport the fuel they need to keep things operating.

When you’re storing fuel, there are strict government regulations that need to be followed to create a safe working environment and to prevent dangerous incidents from occurring. Not only is fuel extremely flammable, it’s also unfortunately difficult to store.

Fuel contracts and expands when the temperature changes, and liquid fuel can easily evaporate or begin to break down, even after short periods of storage. It’s not a substance that can readily be stored for a long time without being chemically treated.

While you might think plastic drums make a good storage container, most plastic drums can’t be used to store fuel.

Why Can’t I Store Fuel in Plastic Drums?

The biggest concern with plastic drums is the fact that fuel can start to react and break down the plastic.

Plastic drums are usually manufactured from HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene), a polymer-based plastic. The bonds that hold those polymers in place and essentially give the plastic its shape and strength readily interact with fuel.

Over-time, this leads to the plastic drum breaking down, as the bonds are disrupted by interaction with the fuel. This produces a dangerous storage container, and cross-contamination that will affect the chemical composition of the fuel.

Plastic drums can start to leak fuel, and then the fuel can become unstable.

What Can I Use to Store Fuel Instead?

Standard industrial plastic drums should never be used to store fuel, but there are many alternatives for safe storage of industrial quantities of fuel.

Some plastics are specifically designed and manufactured to be used for fuel storage. However, these are often only produced on a small scale (such as plastic Jerry Cans) for short-term storage of small quantities below 10 litres. These aren’t suited for industrial storage.

Instead, the best option for industrial fuel storage is steel drums. The steel doesn’t react with the fuel in the same way that plastic does, and steel drums can be used to store fuel for several years at a time if needed.

Steel drums are strong and durable, and they are suited for both storage and transport. They will generally have an access point on top, and will readily hold large quantities of fuel, often up to 210 litres.

Most importantly, remember that you can check with the manufacturer whether your drum is suitable for fuel storage before you purchase.

Safe Storage of Fuel

As well as storing fuel safely inside an appropriate container, such as a steel drum, there are many guidelines and regulations that need to be adhered to when you store fuel in an industrial capacity.

Companies are often limited in terms of the total quantity of fuel they can store, while storage containers need to meet government-approved standards, and all containers must be clearly marked to show that they are carrying flammable materials.

Anyone handling industrial quantities of fuel must be health and safety qualified, and companies must have stringent policies and procedures in place to ensure that accidents don’t happen. Fuel needs to be stored in a safe environment, without any danger of it catching alight.

Contact ITP Packaging for More Information

Storing fuel in an industrial capacity requires important health and safety considerations. Picking the right storage containers is integral to safely storing fuel, in both the short and long term.

It’s important that you have access to the correct information, so if you need further advice before ordering storage containers, the staff at ITP Packaging are on hand to ensure that you make an informed decision. We stock a wide range of industrial products and can recommend suitable storage solutions for your needs.

Contact ITP Packaging today to find out more about storing fuel safely.

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