Plastic Container Chemical Resistance – Selecting the right plastic for your product.

You’ve got a fantastic cleaning solution. Or, perhaps a unique new fuel for small engines. You want to package your product right now and get it out to your customers! But hold on! You need to be SURE that the container you choose to present and store your product is compatible with the active ingredients of your product

Glass is strong, clear, and nearly none porous. But it is brittle and breaks easily.

Metal is an ideal solution for products like paint, thinners, solvents, cleaners and fuels. But it depends entirely on labels for indication of what is inside. And metal is susceptible to eventual rust. Turpentines, methylene chlorides, and lacquer thinners are best kept in metal containers.

Another option is Plastic. Plastic containers are relatively cheap, structurally strong, highly impact resistant, and are ideally suited for long-term storage.

Plastic Resistance to Chemicals - Generally, plastic products hold up very well to acids and cleaning chemicals. Plastic is more porous than glass. Which can be an advantage. Allowing a plastic container to flex and “breathe” as the chemical product within expands and contracts. Modern day gasoline containers are a good example of this. With a plastic gas can, you don’t have to worry about the metal of the can causing a spark when banged against another hard surface. And the natural flexibility of the plastic gas cans allow the containers to flex in response to the pressure of the natural expansion and contraction of the fuel.

However, chemicals CAN have a powerful effect on the rigidity, appearance, and brittleness of plastic containers. Also, most plastics do not hold up well against prolonged exposure to natural sunlight, and consistent exposure to extreme temperatures. And something as seemingly innocent as the natural oils from products like sunflower seeds can degrade plastics like k-resin. It's important to understand the capabilities and limits of plastic when it comes to contact with strong chemicals.

Permeability is another characteristic that should be considered with ANY material. But plastic is especially known for its “breathability”. A product that can evaporate quickly, (such as automotive brake cleaners, and MEK solvents) could simply evaporate from within some plastic containers.

Polypropylene (PP) works well with alkaline solutions, fuels, and pesticides. However, this plastic will break down if you put it in contact with concentrated acids like Benzene.

Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) will hold alcohol or white spirits such as lighter fluid and paint thinner without evaporation loss or leaking. But are better suited for lubricants, mineral oils, cleaners and detergents.

Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) can hold alcohol, acetone, lubricants, oils, cleaners and liquid detergents.

High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) has been the plastic material of choice for storage and packaging of acetones, alcohols, fuels, and methylene.

We’ve provided a simplified Chemical Resistance Chart that can be used as a quick reference to help you choose the best plastic container for your product.


plastic chemical resistance chart


Test Your Product! - Honestly, the BEST advice we can offer to you is to order a sample of the containers, as well as samples of the caps or lids that you would like to use. Fill the sample containers with your product. Seal the caps to the containers. If your product requires a “hot-fill”, do so! In the end. The person most able to determine how well a plastic container will do with a chemical-based product is yourself. Based on your observations of your product with the samples we send you.

Questions? Contact Our Sales Team! - If you would like more information. Or would like to request a specific set of samples. Or you want to place freight, or large orders. Please contact our  customer service team