Where to Get a Free 55-Gallon Plastic Drum or Metal Drum

While new 55-gallon drums are available to buy at stores like The Home Depot and Uline, you may be able to find a local company that will give you metal or plastic drums for free. Businesses — including beverage manufacturers, industrial waste collection companies, and insulation companies — may have free 55-gallon drums available. You can also find free drums through peer-to-peer platforms like Craigslist. See below for the list of where to get a free 55-gallon plastic or metal drum, plus where you can buy them.

What We Recommend

In general, the easiest way to find a free 55-gallon drum is to use a peer-to-peer marketplace like Craigslist, the Facebook Marketplace, or OfferUp. While not all of the drums available on these platforms will be listed for free, sellers are often willing to negotiate on price.

When looking offline for free 55-gallon drums, you’ll need to call around to several different local businesses and ask if they have any available that they’re willing to give or sell to you. There’s no company that gives drums away for free nationwide.

Keep in mind that you’ll likely want to clean the drums before using them. This can be as easy as washing them out with soap and water or may involve a deeper cleaning if the drums previously held chemicals or hazardous products. Additionally, free drums may have some defects, such as the lids not closing tightly or small holes in the sides. Depending on how you plan to use them, you might want to buy new drums instead.

The List

Note: To gather this information, we contacted several small businesses of each type to find out whether they commonly give away or sell plastic or metal drums.

Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces

  • Available drums: Varied
  • How it works: Peer-to-peer marketplaces like Craigslist can be good places to find free drums. Look for listings in your area or post a “wanted” ad detailing how many drums you need and of what type.

Beverage Manufacturers

  • Available drums: Typically plastic
  • How it works: Check local breweries, wineries, soft drink companies, bottled water plans, juice companies, and similar companies. They receive ingredients like syrups in drums and may be willing to give you some for free.

Car Washes

  • Available drums: Typically plastic
  • How it works: Car wash companies usually receive and store soap in drums. The soap they use isn’t the same as what you’d use to wash your dishes, so be sure to clean these drums carefully, especially if you’re planning to use them for food-related projects.

Industrial Waste Collection Companies

  • Available drums: Metal or plastic
  • How it works: Hazardous and non-hazardous waste are regularly transported in metal or plastic drums. Avoid gathering drums that held hazardous materials, as they can be dangerous and difficult to clean.

Insulation Companies

  • Available drums: Metal
  • How it works: Spray-foam insulation is often stored in barrels or drums, so companies that perform insulation may have empty drums they’re willing to share with you. Insulation can include toxic materials like formaldehyde,[1] so exercise caution when reusing insulation drums. There may be chemical residue in the drum.

Salvage Yards and Landfills

  • Available drums: Varied
  • How it works: Policies vary depending on the facility; some (particularly landfills) aren’t open to the public or won’t allow you to take items for safety reasons. It’s best to call ahead and ask whether any drums may be available and whether you can pick them up before visiting.

Need other free materials for your project? See our research on where to get pallets and wood crates for free.

Where to Buy 55-Gallon Drums

If you can’t find any free 55-gallon drums nearby or you decide new drums would be better suited to your project, you can buy drums from the following companies (listed beginning with the least expensive):

eBay

  • Available drums: New/clean and used plastic and metal drums[2]
  • Price range: Anywhere from $10 to $250 each depending on the material, condition, and shipping cost[2]
  • Find out more

Uline

  • Available drums: Plastic, lined and unlined steel, stainless steel, and fiber[3]
  • Price range: Range from about $20 to $750 each depending on the type and quantity; plastic is the least expensive and stainless steel is the most expensive[4][5][6][7]
  • Find out more

McMaster-Carr

  • Available drums: Plastic, steel, stainless steel, and fiber[8]
  • Price range: Range from about $18 to $1,300 each, depending on the material and style[9][10][11][12]
  • Find out more

The Cary Company

  • Available drums: Plastic, carbon steel, and stainless steel[13]
  • Price range: About $25 to $1,200 each, depending on the style and material[13]
  • Find out more

Global Industrial

  • Available drums: Plastic, carbon steel, stainless steel, and fiber[14]
  • Price range: Rang from about $60 to $900 each, with plastic being the least expensive and stainless steel being the most expensive[14]
  • Find out more

The Home Depot

  1. https://www.epa.gov/greenerproducts/identifying-greener-insulation[]
  2. https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2380057.m570.l1311.R1.TR11.TRC1.A0.H0.X55+gallon+drum.TRS0&_nkw=55+gallon+drum&_sacat=0[][]
  3. https://www.uline.com/Product/AdvSearchResult?KeywordTyped=55%20gallo&keywords=55%20Gallon%20Drums[]
  4. https://www.uline.com/BL_8154/Plastic-Drums?keywords=55+Gallon+Drums[]
  5. https://www.uline.com/BL_8156/Steel-Drums?keywords=55+Gallon+Drums[]
  6. https://www.uline.com/BL_8187/Stainless-Steel-Drums?keywords=55+Gallon+Drums[]
  7. https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-7900/Drums/Fiber-Drum-55-Gallon[]
  8. https://www.mcmaster.com/55-gallon-drums/[]
  9. https://www.mcmaster.com/55-gallon-drums/fiber-drums/[]
  10. https://www.mcmaster.com/55-gallon-drums/stainless-steel-drums/[]
  11. https://www.mcmaster.com/55-gallon-drums/plastic-drums/[]
  12. https://www.mcmaster.com/55-gallon-drums/steel-drums/[]
  13. https://www.thecarycompany.com/containers/drums/55-gallon-drums?p=1[][]
  14. https://www.globalindustrial.com/searchResult?categoryKey=1661&defaultPath=category1_id%3D1L~category2_id%3D1L1K&p=category1_id%3D1L~category2_id%3D1L1K~attr_capacitygallonsrange%3D55&ps=72&s=4-2%2C5-2[][]
  15. https://www.homedepot.com/s/55%2520gallon%2520drum?NCNI-5[][]