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

In technical usage in the shipping industry, a pail is 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]

The non-technical usage of pail 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 also


  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.
  3. ^ "How to Comply with Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations". US DoT.

Books, general references