The Different Types of IBC Tanks

Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs), also known as tanks, are important to use in various industries as a way to help contain numerous types of contents, including liquids. Because of this, IBCs need to be manufactured in ways that fit a consumer’s needs perfectly, such as being made of different materials and containing special features that certain industries might need, like extra padding to contain troublesome fluids. Those looking to invest in IBC tanks will find that there are numerous options available. Below is a list of the different types of IBC tanks as well as detailed information about their unique designs and characteristics.

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What are IBCs?

Intermediate Bulk Containers are heavy-duty canisters that are used to hold a handful of different items, including food, perfume, and oil. IBCs are composed of many different parts and can often be customized to fit a certain industry’s needs well, such as with adding extra outer protection or more valves.

Parts of an IBC

These items are built of numerous parts that each work together to help contain items inside from leaking.


The drum, also known as a barrel, is the main part of the IBC and is what holds the contents inside. The drum is usually made of thick plastic and is covered in a steel grid to provide extra support. Other materials the drum can be constructed out of include stainless steel and carbon steel.

Steel Cage

For those who invest in plastic IBCs, a steel cage is often wrapped around it. This serves as a way to keep the container balanced when putting contents inside it. A steel cage also protects the exterior from being poked or damaged in some way.


To help move IBCs around and stack them on top of each other, these products contain pallets on the bottom. Pallets are made of many different materials, including plastic, wood, and metal. This part also lifts the IBC tank off of the ground which allows air to flow beneath it and provides easy access for machines to eventually lift them up when the tank is full and needs to be removed.


Valves are yet another crucial part of IBC tanks as they let users remove liquids and similar items inside without making a mess. IBC valves are typically found on the front and have an opening where a hose can be attached to safely transport the contents inside to another container. IBC valves will vary in their designs though, with some having screw-on caps and others having a locking handle to control the flow of liquids.


Clamps are used to apply pressure to the IBC valves, and sometimes around the drum itself, to prevent liquid from seeping out from it. This device also tends to have a locking mechanism on the front to ensure it stays in place.


Gauges are instruments that workers can use to measure the volume of the contents inside the IBC. This item ranges in its features depending on how intricately consumers want to check the inside of the IBC tank and how big the IBC tank is. Gauges tend to be made of carbon steel or aluminum and notify you of the measurements taken with a dial on the top.


This vital piece of an IBC tank helps to close the space between different pieces to prevent leakage. Gaskets are made of numerous materials and designs with some being flexible pieces made of rubber while others are solid metal rings. All of these heavy-duty materials are resistant to corrosion and stains.

Identification Plate

Another important piece of an IBC is its identification plate. This space is used to write the model number of the IBC on and other specifications. The identification plate allows users to quickly find information about their model when necessary.

Materials of IBC Tanks

There are quite a few materials that IBC tanks can be constructed out of.


Plastic IBC tanks are one of the most commonly used thanks to their versatility. This type of IBC tank can hold both liquids and solids and can support an impressive amount of them, sometimes up to 3000 litres. To add extra support to it, a plastic IBC usually features a sturdy steel grid around its exterior.

Plastic IBC tanks are typically constructed out of high-density polyethylene which is not made with toxic chemicals that might otherwise leak into the IBC tank and contaminate the contents inside.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel IBC tanks are one of the most durable options and are shock resistant. Despite their durability, carbon steel IBC tanks are also very lightweight and affordable. This material is eco-friendly as it can be recycled when no longer needed. Carbon steel IBCs are good for holding liquids and items that might have strong odors, such as perfumes, as well as flammable and combustible products.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel tanks are built for heavy-duty work and known for being highly resistant to corrosion. They are also able to hold items of high temperatures which makes them ideal for the chemical and automotive industries. In addition to this, stainless steel tanks can safely hold flammable items as well. Stainless steel IBCs come in many different sizes and are able to store various amounts of weight. While some are food-grade, most stainless steel options are not.

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Different Types of IBC Tanks

Consumers will discover plenty of different types of IBC tanks available to choose from.

Food IBC Tanks

Food IBC tanks are important for not only transporting edible items around, but to help this industry adhere to food safety regulations. Food tanks come in a handful of styles that serve to hold everything from water to fruit juice. These containers are used throughout the food industry, including in winemaking as they can hold large amounts of wine and prevent it from being spoiled. Food IBC tanks can also hold dairy products, like milk and cream.

Food-grade IBC tanks are made of various materials, but are often built out of stainless steel as this metal is sanitary and can be easily washed. Before being shipped out, these IBC tanks are checked by food regulators to ensure they meet current sanitation laws.

Rebottled IBC Tanks

This form of IBC tank is also known as caged water tanks as they can hold large amounts of water, something which is often vital for this industry. They help companies to quickly transport fresh water without fear of it being polluted. Rebottled IBC tanks can be customized to have certain valves to help users easily pour water from it. This type of IBC tank is also made with UV-stabilized plastic which prevents sun rays from heating up the plastic which could otherwise cause small particles to escape into the water causing contamination.

Chemical IBC Tanks

IBC tanks can safely hold many different types of chemicals, even dangerous ones, without causing leakage. Some highlights of them include:

  • They can hold large amounts of fertilizers for agricultural usage.
  • They can help with correctly dosing certain chemicals.
  • They are designed to prevent spillage which can prevent both contamination and waste.
  • They often feature alarms that alert users to it being either full or empty.

Chemical IBC tanks are made of almost all materials, including plastic, but tend to be mainly constructed of carbon steel or stainless steel. They are made to meet numerous laws for chemical containment, including FDA regulations, ASME standards, and UN/DOT certifications.

Some consumers might still be a little skeptical of using IBC tanks to store chemicals in as a handful of materials can cause equipment to malfunction and even have extreme temperature changes due to inadequate storage. However, chemical IBC tanks are designed to withstand problems such as these making them a powerful tool to use when it comes to containing even the most worrisome chemicals.

Pharmaceutical IBC Tanks

Pharmaceutical IBC tanks are used to hold items such as acetic acid, alcohol, alginate, and aluminum formate. These tanks are mainly built to hold powders created by this industry and to help safely discard pills and drug capsules. Pharmaceutical IBC tanks also have full traceability which allows consumers to track where the tanks are made and shipped. They also come with Installation Qualifications (IQ) and Operator Qualifications (OQ). This form of IBC tank is also made to prevent cross-contamination and features silicone rings to ensure the tank is airtight.

Automotive IBC Tanks

The automotive industry also uses IBC tanks as a way to contain paint, oil, anti-freeze, degreasers, and engine cleaners. Because separate IBC tanks can be used for different items, they work to reduce waste and encourage recycling—something that might otherwise be impossible to do. Those working in this industry will also find that they can use IBC tanks to correctly measure liquids, such as oil, without spilling them.

In addition to this, the automotive industry deals with items that tend to have strong odors, such as gas and oil. These liquids can be poured inside an IBC to prevent heavy fumes which can often be a health hazard.

Reconditioned IBC Tanks

As its name suggests, this type of tank is a refurbished model. While they have been used before, reconditioned IBC tanks are still durable and undergo intense testing to ensure they work well. They are also heavily rinsed to make sure that previous particles are removed and do not mix into the new contents. This form of IBC tank is good for those looking for an affordable or environmentally-friendly option.

Flexible IBC Totes

Flexible IBC totes are made to move in ways that traditional IBC tanks are unable to, but still have the same durability as them. Using a mixture of woven plastic and steel, flexible IBC totes come with benefits such as:

  • Being able to be folded and stored away until needed;
  • Being cost-effective and compact;
  • Being recyclable and can be reconditioned;
  • Being safely stacked on top of each other.

This type of tank is best to hold liquids and is built with UV-protectors to prevent harmful rays from damaging its contents. While it will depend on the model consumers buy, flexible IBC totes usually come with a wooden pallet to help make moving them around easier.

IBC Tank Heaters

IBC tank heaters are designed to quickly heat up contents so they can be transported around instantly. This includes items such as molasses, honey, and biofuel. This IBC tank heats the contents within a few minutes but without burning them. Users will also be able to monitor the temperature of the tank to ensure that the liquid inside is warmed up to the correct degree.

IBC tank heaters also come with fabric wraps that can be tied around the exterior of the tank to keep heat from escaping. This type of IBC tank also has an insulation lid to help keep heat inside the container which prevents users from having to reheat the tank, something that could cause the contents inside to be scorched.

Intermediate Bulk Containers are versatile products that can be used in many different industries to help store and transport various items around. They are also made in a handful of designs and materials giving consumers a vast selection to choose from.

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