Tips to Help You Choose the Right Pump


There are three different categories of pumps that you can buy for drum, pail or bottle pumps. They are manual pumps, electric barrel pumps, power pumps and safety pumps. When choosing a pump your main considerations should be the chemicals that are being pumped, the thickness of the liquid in question, and the size of the container you will be pumping to or from.

You should also think about the fitting, the chemicals and how they may interact, and how much you will need to dispense per stroke (or over the course of a minute). In some circumstances, you may be pumping water or consumable liquids, in which case you will need a food grade pump.

Six things to pay attention to when purchasing a new pump.

  1. The Chemical Compatibility – any parts of the pump that will be in contact with the liquid being pumped must be compatible with the liquid in question. You can determine whether or not this is the case by checking the MSDS for the product. The Material Data Safety Sheet will tell you if there are likely to be any adverse interactions, and will clearly state what the pump is made from so that you can make an informed decision.
  2. Centipoise – The centipoise is a measure of how thick a liquid is (it’s viscosity). You should think about this when considering the required strength of pump.
  3. Dispensing Requirements – think about how much liquid you need to dispense “per stroke” or “per minute”, and how fast you need the pump to operate. Most hand pumps will have a rating for how much they can pump, as a maximum, but you will need to remember that the rating also depends on how strong the operator is and what their endurance is like. Power pumps are rated by the number of gallons that they can pump per minute. The rating is an ‘up to’ rating and is the best case scenario, so it is best to buy one that is slightly more powerful than you think you need.
  4. Food Grade Materials – if you are working with food or with a regulated substance then there will be material restrictions. You can get power pumps and manual pumps that are certified as being made from ‘food grade’ materials.
  5. Container Size – You should confirm the size of the container that you want to pump liquid from, the size of the container you are transferring it to, and the thickness of the liquid. If these factors are expected to remain the same for a long time then you could save a lot of time and money buying a pump designed specifically for one type of container.

There are pumps that fit a wide range of containers – including everything from single gallon bottles up to 275-gallon containers. If you aren’t sure what size of container you will need to work with then you will want to find something that can be adapted to work with a wide range of containers. For example, a 55-gallon pump could be used to fit 30, 20, and 15-gallon drums. The top of the pump could end up sitting well above the top of a smaller container, which isn’t ideal but would still work.

Power or Manual Pumps – Power pumps use air or electric power, while manual pumps are hand operated.

Note that if your drum will need to hold hazardous materials, it must comply with the UN/DOT 49 CFR 173.3 (c) requirement to handle damaged or leaking containers of hazardous material. There are a number of different sized containers that can meet that requirement, with different linings and fittings to suit different needs. Talk to the customer service team if you are not sure what you need.