What Is a Water Tote & How Can it be Used for My Shipping Needs?

blue square plastic water tank


In the shipping world, there are numerous types of packaging materials that are used to transport a wide variety of materials. Choosing the right type ensures that your product(s) will make it from one point to the next safely. The right containers also maximize efficiency and improve safety. When transporting liquids, water totes have become an increasingly popular option. While steel drums were once the product of choice for transporting liquids, many companies have found that water totes are an easier to handle, more efficient and more cost-effective option. What exactly are water totes, and how can you use them for your shipping needs? Let’s take a closer look at these versatile containers and their potential uses.

What Is a Water Tote?

In the shipping industry, the term “tote” typically refers to an intermediate bulk container, also known as an IBC tote. These containers are built to efficiently store and transport large amounts of liquids or granulated substances. They are commonly used to hold water, food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and more. Their cubic shape allows them to take up less space than drums, and they are designed to be much easier to fully empty.

Water totes are usually made from high-density polyethylene, also known as HDPE, and many are enclosed in metal cages for added strength and safety. There are options, however, for totes made of aluminum or galvanized iron, as well. Flexible totes made from polypropylene are also available, but they are not as widely used. Totes can hold either 275 gallons or 330 gallons. Most measure 48” x 40” x 46” and fit perfectly on pallets. They are typically mounted on pallets to make them easy to move using either a pallet jack or a forklift.

Unlike drums, which must be emptied from the top, IBCs have valves located near the base. A hose is attached to this valve to allow for easy emptying and transferring of contents to another container.

How to Use Water Totes for Your Shipping Needs

Because they can be used to transport a wide variety of goods, water totes are extremely versatile. They are commonly used on industrial sites to transport potable water as well as wastewater.

liquid storage shipping containers

More often, though, they are used to ship liquid and granulated materials other than water. They have a space-saving design that makes them highly efficient for transporting large quantities. One 275-gallon tote takes up significantly less space than five 55-gallon barrels, and a 330-gallon tote requires much less space than six 55-gallon barrels. On average, water totes take up approximately 25% less space than barrels, making them ideal in situations in which space is at a premium. They are also stackable, allowing you to further maximize the limited amount of space with which you have to work.

When using IBCs for shipping, it is vital to ensure that the tote you choose is appropriate for your application. Because they can be used for a wide variety of applications, you must ensure that the one you choose is suitable for your needs. If you are transporting potable water or shipping food, for example, you need a tote that is designed to hold products that are intended for human consumption. While used water totes are widely available, it is generally best practice to purchase new ones when you need to ship or transport anything that is intended for human consumption.

Reusing tanks is also an option, especially if you know what they contained previously. However, they must be thoroughly cleaned in between uses to prevent cross-contamination. Most businesses send their IBCs to outside companies that specialize in emptying and thoroughly cleaning these large containers. Working with a professional emptying and cleaning company saves you time while ensuring that the containers are properly cleaned and ready for the next use.

3D rendering blue shipping container

In Conclusion

Water totes, more formally known as intermediate bulk containers or IBCs, are an ideal solution for shipping a wide range of liquid and granulated materials. They hold large volumes while taking up significantly less space than barrels. They are also much easier to empty and clean than other bulk containers, making them ideal for continued use. These totes can be used to hold much more than just water, and they provide numerous benefits to companies in a wide range of industries.


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