In recent weeks much of the Eastern half of The United States was plagued with Arctic level temperatures forcing many businesses and government institutions to close their doors due to the extreme cold temperatures. These temperatures that in many cases approached or exceeded -20 degrees F caused indoor temperatures even in heated warehouses / store rooms to dip into the 50s or lower as heaters simply couldn't keep up. In buildings without heated warehouses / store rooms and receiving docks, temperatures fell well below freezing. While many workers as well as students got to enjoy a mini impromptu vacation at home staying warm from their school or business being closed, the containers they work with at school or work holding liquid used in day to day operations of businesses or research were left behind often times exposed to the cold temperatures.
It tends to be over looked that chemicals being stored in buildings used for business contain Water and anyone living in a northern climate should know the power of Water when it freezes. Some may have had the unpleasant experience of frozen pipes in their own homes and know what a mess that is. Cast Iron pipes are no match for the power of Ice when it forms and it can split a pipe an inch thick in two like nothing, flooding streets, rooms, etc. Drums and containers holding chemicals that are mixed with Water are able to react the same way as the Water freezes inside the container. The thin metal on a drum or thin plastic in the case of a poly drum is no match for the power of Water as it freezes and it will split, crack, and/or bulge.
We advise our customers that any container they have holding any liquid be kept in an environment with constant temperatures between 35 degrees F and 85 degrees F to avoid reactions from occurring with your liquid. Once a drum containing any liquid freezes, the drum's integrity has been compromised and there is a strong possibility that container once thawed will begin leaking. Typically drums that freeze will bulge from our own observation and this alone will render the drum "Not roadworthy" requiring the drum to be overpacked, but in many cases the drums will also develop leaks around the rings, seals, and bungs on the drum. Glass bottles if holding a liquid containing Water once frozen tend to crack again causing a "spill" once the bottle thaws back out. Drums left outside holding liquid containing Water will almost assuredly be compromised so we advise all of our clients to NEVER STORE WASTE OUTSIDE in a cold weather climate such as: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Des Moines, Indianapolis, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and anywhere else that experiences Arctic level temperatures during winter months. It is important to point out that even in warm weather climates such as California and Florida, it is still not advisable to store drums outside as rainwater and the Sun's baking rays still break down a drum's integrity over time through oxidation and degradation.
We advise businesses that have liquids stored in containers on-site to familiarize yourselves with your MSDS Sheets / SDS Sheets on your liquid products you have and be sure to pay attention to the chemical composition / chemical breakdown of what is in your products. In many cases you will be surprised to learn that the majority of your liquid is actually Water often times containing a myriad of other chemical components. Your SDS Sheet will also tell you how to store your product and where not to. If you cannot locate your SDS Sheet for a particular item, Google is a great resource for locating one for you. Simply type in the name of the product you have and then type MSDS Sheet and usually one will come up for that product for free!