Pail (container)

A pail is a technical term, used in the shipping industry, to designate a type of cylindrical shipping container with a capacity of about 3 to 50 litres (1 to 13 US gal). It can have straight or slanted sides and usually has a handle or bail.[1]

Three gallon plastic pail of paint with screw closure
Steel pail of concentrated pesticide
Open-head plastic pails being reused to carry other items

The non-technical meaning is identical to bucket.[2]


Pails can be made of

Pails are either "open head" with removable lids (covers) or are "tight head" with sealed heads and a screw closure.

Pails made of wood, and later metal, were originally used to transport milk, before the introduction of the milk churn.


Pails are used for a variety of fluids and flowable materials. When properly constructed and certified, they may be used for dangerous goods shipments. [3]

Pails are shipping containers that are shipped individually, shipped as secure unit loads on pallets, or shipped in corrugated fiberboard boxes.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Soroka, W. Illustrated Glossary of Packaging Terminology (Second ed.). Institute of Packaging Professionals.
  2. ^ Flexner, Stuart; Hauck, :epmpre, eds. (1993) [1987]. Random House Unabridged Dictionary (hardcover) (second ed.). New York: Random House. p. 271. ISBN 0-679-429174. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |month= (help)
  3. ^ "How to Comply with Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations". US DoT.

Books, general referencesEdit

  • Soroka, W, Fundamentals of Packaging Technology, IoPP, 2002, ISBN 1-930268-25-4
  • Yam, K. L., Encyclopedia of Packaging Technology, John Wiley & Sons, 2009, ISBN 978-0-470-08704-6
  • ASTM D4504—Specification for Molded Polyethylene Open-Head Pails for Industrial Shipping of Nonhazardous Goods