IBC Totes and Drums – Which Should You Choose?

By Jackie Hartnett, Spack International

On a day to day basis, I get asked so many great questions about the best type of packaging to use for your manufacturing process.   I thought now would be a great time to address the question of pack size and which is suited for your business/product.  When companies have the wonderful dilemma of exceeding sales expectations and needing to increase purchasing materials, they naturally gravitate to remaining with the pack size they are familiar with.    It’s scary to make changes!  My job is to talk them through the pros and cons of various pack sizes to attain a greater level of knowledge to make an educated decision.

The most common bulk packaging options for smaller to mid-scale business are IBC Totes and Drums.  IBC, or Intermediate Bulk Containers, are reusable industrial containers designed for the transportation and storage of bulk substances.  IBCs have a volume range that is positioned between drums and tanks, hence the term intermediate.  The two main constructions of IBCs are steel and plastic and they are large box containers made specifically for warehouse and industrial settings.  Drums are cylindrical barrels, typically 2’ in diameter and 3’ tall.

IBC Tote Fun Facts:

  • Totes hold approximately 920 kg (2,028 lbs) of material which is slightly less than 5 drums.
  • Totes are packed on a pallet and take up similar amount of space as 4 drums which translates to a 25% better space utilization.
  • They have a 2” discharge valve located near the bottom of the tote that is used to dispense the oil via gravity (does not require a pump).
  • Totes have a 6” top filling port which can be used to dispense material via pump.
  • A forklift or pallet jack is required to move totes around.
  • The per pound price for totes is generally $0.02 – $0.10 less than drum price.

IBC Totes are used mainly used for Organic Sunflower Oil in Bulk.

Show Tote Sunflower Oil

Drums Fun Facts:

  • Drums hold approximately 190 – 200 kg (419 – 440 lbs) of material.
  • Drums are smaller and easier to move around if you have limited space or don’t have a forklift.
  • Drums typically have two opening with flanges on top; one with a 2” diameter, and another ¾”, that are sealed with a bung (plug). A drum pump is commonly used to dispense or empty the oil.
  • The dimensions of drums are approximately 24” in diameter and 36” tall.
  • Because more manual labor/time is required to fill drums vs. totes, the per pound price is generally higher for drums.

Drums are used for Sunflower oil in Bulk, Palm Oil in Bulk, VCO in Bulk and Avocado Oil in Bulk.

to show drum used for sunflower oil

It is generally my recommendation for businesses, if they have the warehouse space and the material usage, to purchase IBC Totes vs drums.  For smaller scale businesses, who don’t go through quite so much of the material at a time, and have limited storage space, drums are the way to go!

I would love to answer any individual questions you may have.  Feel free to contact us at (833) 756-8645 or info@spack-international.com 

If you are interested in retail or food service packaging of Organic Vegetable Oil, please see our colleagues of Spack Europe.

Sunflower oil in Bulk