Your Guide to Liquid Chemical Packaging – from Bottles to Bulk
Photo by Sebastian Herrmann
Originally Posted On: https://fleetchem.com/your-guide-to-liquid-chemical-packaging-from-bottles-to-bulk/
Considerations for Chemical Packaging
There are many things to consider when determining the right kind of packaging to meet your needs. Beyond just the obvious considerations like the size or type of container there are many things to consider such as the hazards of the material to be packaged, incompatibility of packaging materials with product, the potential of exposure to sunlight, other materials, heat sources, or freezing temperatures to name a few.
Perhaps the first thing to consider is the size of the container(s) needed. Someone shipping materials by bulk tanker truck would obviously have much different shipping needs than someone shipping thier products in small bottles.
Shipping containers can range in sizes from ultra small bottles less than one ounce in size, all the way up to cargo ships that can transport millions of gallons. Here I am focusing primarily on the more common packaging sizes for chemicals, specifically those ranging from 1 quart bottles up to 330 gallon IBC (Intermediate Bulk Containers) totes.
Typical sizes for chemicals packaging include quarts, half-gallons, gallons, 2.5 gallons, 5 gallon bottles, 5-20 gallon pails, 30 to 55 gallon drums, and 275 and 330 gallon IBC totes.
Packaging Material Type
This is the modern packaging material. The majority of household and automotive chemicals today are packaged in plastic. It is flexible, sturdier than glass, cheap to manufacture, and generally holds up well against most chemicals, even corrosives. However, plastic is not generally compatible with flammable or combustible materials unless it has been treated appropriately. Plastic also has a negative effect on the environment, so this should always be considered as well if your materials can ship in a more eco-friendly container.
Glass is a traditional packaging material for liquid chemicals. It’s benefits are that glass is highly compatible with a wide-range of material. Unlike metals it won’t corrode, glass is thermally insulating, and can be an effective barrier against many of the strongest chemicals. It can also be tinted to protect photosensitive chemicals.
Clearly, the biggest downside to glass is that it has to be treated with care or it will easily break which makes glass inappropriate in most situations.
Metal is the go to material for shipping crude oil, gasoline and petroleum based products in general. Many types of flammables and solvents are compatible with metal. A common size in the chemical industry is the 55 gallon metal drum. Often times however, metal drums must be properly grounded or bonded to prevent a spark that could ignite a flammable material.
Lacquer Lined Drums
Sometimes the chemical that goes in the metal drum will react with the iron or steel that the drum is made out of. To address this, a lacquer lined drum gets used. An epoxy lacquer coats the inside of the drum to prevent contact.
Common items that go in these drums are pesticides, food, or agrochemicals.
Intermediate Bulk Containers
Drums aren’t the only containers used for transporting chemicals in bulk. IBC containers can transport both solid and liquid chemicals.
There’s complete freedom when creating these containers. They could be flexible, rigid, plastic, or metal. One thing they have in common is that they are all pallet mounted.
Challenges of Packaging Chemicals
The biggest challenge with chemicals are the hazards they present. You need packaging that you can confidently say will contain and protect.
Highly toxic chemicals pose a health risk to humans. Chemicals that are either highly acidic or basic will cause burns.
These types of chemicals need automated packaging. This will limit the amount of human interaction and therefore reduce the risk of harm.
Some chemicals, like those high in hydrocarbons, pose a physical risk.
Common household products fall into this category, including:
- Aerosol sprays
- Vehicle fuels
The packaging used needs to not only protect us from the chemical but the chemical from the environment. The packaging needs to be strong enough to withstand the elements during shipment.
This will prevent the chemical from leaching out into the environment. The packaging needs to not degrade over time. It also needs to be air-tight so that evaporation doesn’t occur.
Do you know how many chemicals react with water? It’s quite a lot. Any chemical that falls into this category must be protected from any and all moisture.
Sometimes a chemical comes in a two-part process. The end-user intends for a chemical reaction to happen. But you don’t want that reaction to occur until the chemicals get to the end-user.
In this case, you need packaging that can contain both chemicals, but only keep them paired. This way, you can keep the necessary components together but separate.
If you use a packaging service, you’ll find that they deal with several different variations of chemicals in a single day. As they move from one compound to another, they risk cross-contamination.
This can result in an unintended chemical reaction if the proper procedures aren’t in place to ensure total cleanliness. We only use state of the art processes and procedures to ensure the highest quality packaging.
Another challenge is the size of the container you want to fill. The smaller the packaging, the bigger the challenge. This is when you need a customized and solution-oriented approach.
For example, we recommend using a monoblock filter and capper. A less experienced packaging service may recommend a less suitable inline or turnkey system.
Package Your Chemicals
So which solution for chemical packaging will work best for your needs? Do you need glass, plastic, or metal? What individualized approach do we need to take to ensure complete safety for both people and the environment?
Our facility can accommodate chemical packaging for everything from small bottles to large bulk containers.
Contact us today, and let’s create a customized solution for your chemical packaging needs.