Never Suffer From Cutting IBC Totes Again

Jonathan Reyes

a year ago

3 min read

Once you have sourced your IBC totes, cleaned them well, it's time to begin cutting them and preparing them to be fish tanks, sump tanks, or even distribution tanks. You can also cut them in half and use them as a sump tank or a growbed, but we're going to focus on the other purposes as it requires a different cut.

To keep your totes functioning well and in good condition, you'll need to take care of the structural integrity. The structure itself is made for shipping liquid material so you're not wrong to use them for water. However, there is a better way to cut the tanks.

Cutting the top, not the sides

The top part of the IBC tote is critical for its structural integrity. The rounded edges provide support for the weight and reduce the bend when water has been sitting in it for a long time.

This Cut Ruins Structural Integrity

You can absolutely do this cut if you're trying to save money and utilize the container for a media bed and tank. However, in a small commercial setting you're going to want to have this tank last longer and have less issues.

Proper Top Cut

This is the location of a proper top cut. You'll want to keep the beveled edges so that the structure remains intact. There isn't a formula for how far in we would cut the hole, but you can push down on the top and feel where it is softer and has less structural resistence and draw your lines there.

Rounding the Corners

If the corners come to a "T", as in the image above, you will run into many issues as the tank shape changes over time. We had a tank that was cut this way and within a few days of moving it around, without water, it sliced right down the side. You definitely don't want this. Here is how you solve it.

Use a Hole Saw to Start the Corners

You can use a 2" (50mm) hole saw and drill the four corners so that they have a curve to the edge.

Corners with a Hole Saw

Use a Saw of Choice to Finish the Top

The image below, using yellow, shows the next cuts. You'll cut it in a way that connects the edges/tangents of the holes to create a smooth line going around the tank. Once you finish this cut you'll have a quality structurally-sound IBC tote that will last you a good while.

Finishing the Straight Cuts


By just using these simple principals, you should see great improvement in the durability of your IBC totes. Let us know what you think in the comments and any other tips you have found so we can all grow and learn together.

Also, be sure to properly source and clean your totes!!

Jonathan Reyes

Tulua for Sustainable Agriculture