How and why are steel drums heated?

How and why are steel drums heated?

When talking about steel drums it’s important to note that as with every major industry in a globalized context, steel drums have been standardized.

What is a steel drum or barrel?

Though many industries can have their own models depending on the characteristics of the cargo or placement, for this article on heating drums we are going to use the standard 200-liter drum.*

*Disclaimer; due to the nature of our business, Ohmvo offers solutions for 30, 60, 120, and 200-liter drums as well as customizable heating solutions for any requirement.


A 200-liter drum is a cylindrical container
A 200-liter drum is a cylindrical container


A 200-liter drum is a cylindrical container with a nominal capacity of 200 liters. The precise capacity varies depending on the manufacturer, use, and other elements, however, the inside of a typical drum measures 572 millimeters (22.5 in) in diameter and 851 millimeters (33.5 in) in height.

In total, these measurements result in a capacity of approximately 218.7 liters (57.8 US gal; 48.1 imp gal), yet is generally filled between 200-210 liters (hence the name). They serve as storage containers for large amounts of industrial liquids or semi-liquids such as oils, chemicals, or foodstuffs. The conventional steel drum is typically made from either carbon or stainless steel.


Steel drum usage

UN certification and approval are required for steel drums made for industrial use in order to hold hazardous liquids and solids. This means that hazardous waste and dangerous substances can be safely stored in them. However, given their adaptability and potential for food-grade certification, these containers can also be employed in industrial settings by the food industry.

It’s important to note that some items are more suited to storage in steel drums than others. For example, long-term water storage can cause rusting, while food items should be stored in drum liners to further protect them. Most importantly, many products require controlled temperatures for safe storage and this is where drum heaters become necessary.


Sensitive materials

Some materials stored in steel drums require heating solutions to be stored in safe and proper conditions. Certain products such as epoxies, spray foams, and resins require a specific temperature to be maintained. Others, such as diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) require avoiding freezing temperatures to ward off product viscosity which hinders the efficiency of diesel engines. Some products such as soap oils, grease, gelatin, and heavy oils may require melting and preheating.


What is a Drum Heater?

A drum heater is a device used to maintain and safely heat temperature-sensitive items inside a metal drum. It is also known as a barrel heater or a drum heating jacket. This is because temperature cannot be controlled by metal drums alone. It provides three main advantages.

Temperature: The drum heater’s primary function is to maintain a constant temperature for the material. As a result, these devices are great for controlling temperature and distributing heat evenly.

Viscosity: When storing and handling materials, viscosity is a crucial aspect. A higher viscosity from storing materials in cooler conditions will make it more difficult to discharge and result in product waste. Your material can have a hard time regaining the required viscosity if it ends up getting too cold or heated.

Freeze Protection: Additionally, a drum heater can be used to prevent components from freezing. The heater provides a strong defense against the cold, further ensuring the heat is distributed evenly. By doing this, you get rid of the cold and hot patches that could harm your sensitive material.

There are several different options available:

Types of drum heaters

The insulation blanket

A blanket that protects the drum from cold temperatures. The problem with an insulation blanket is that it cannot bring the metal drum’s contents to the proper temperature. In addition, it won’t fully protect the material from extreme conditions.

Inductive heating/cartridge heaters

Steel barrels can be heated individually using mains frequency induction heating. An induction heater’s magnetic field creates eddy currents in the drum wall, which heat the contents by heating the steel. The usage of a cartridge heater is also troublesome due to its complexity. Adding to this, the heater will also only affect a tiny area, and a precise tolerance for a drilled hole is also necessary.

Base heater

Before being removed from the container for processing, many viscous liquids and solids held in steel drums require a significant amount of energy input. Sometimes it is advantageous to use a base heater to directly apply heat to the drum’s underside. These can be built in a variety of ways, using silicone, steam, or induction heating mats inside a frame strong enough to withstand the weight of a full drum.

Belt heaters and mats

Belt heaters are the number one solution in maintaining constant temperatures in drums. We know a thing or two about belt heaters and mats, having our own exclusive line of silicone belt heaters that are ideal for the task.

The extreme adaptability, flexibility, and heat transmission of Ohmvo silicone mats make them the perfect tool to heat or maintain the temperature in standard drums or big tanks. The easiness of installation and reasonable cost, make the Ohmbelt family the ideal solution to enhance a new or existing process plant with heating. Whether it is a standard or fully customized solution, Ohmvo will give you the support you need to meet the requirements of your applications:

  • Fast fluid viscosity reduction
  • High thermal conductivity and heating power
  • High endurance resistance
  • Outstanding flexibility and high metal adhesion
  • Resistant to moisture and chemicals – IP67 Grade
  • Uniform temperature distribution
  • Optimized thermal management
  • Tailored format sizes
  • Easy handling
Our Ohmbelt is both efficient and durable
Our Ohmbelt is both efficient and durable

The standard Ohmbelts are equipped with a built-in Klixon (Temperature specified by the customer during order) or a regulating thermostat. In developing our Ohmbelt we ensured that our product is both efficient and durable. While under development Ohmvo carried out in-house research that tested the capabilities of our Ohmbelt.

Our research shows that the 2.8kW Ohmbelt is markedly superior to other 3kW drum heaters. Results showed that the Ohmbelt achieves optimal temperatures at a minimum of 10% faster rate than our competition. Most importantly of all, the temperature distribution of our Ohmbelt was uniform around the barrel.

The temperature distribution of our Ohmbelt was uniform around the barrel
The temperature distribution of our Ohmbelt was uniform around the barrel

How we help you achieve your goals

If you require a totally customizable solution for steel drum heating, please do not hesitate to contact us. Part of our business strategy is to develop new formulas, and so far being involved in over 200 different designs and patents. So please let us know what you need and we will strive to offer the solution which best fits your needs.

We are proud of our accomplishments, however, we know that heating solutions are more related to problem-solving than product manufacturing. This is why we listen to our customers, cooperate and design exclusively for you. This is what we love to do and strive for perfection in doing so. What is good for you, is good for us.

More information for your specific case ?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.