Understanding the Chemical Resistance of Plastics

Close up of measuring cup pouring blue liquid

Plastic handling and measuring products are essential for storing and transporting materials. However, it’s crucial to consider what types of plastics are chemical resistant, so you don’t risk employee injury or product chemical leaching.

Types of Chemical-Resistant Plastics

When working with various chemicals and mixtures, convenience store-bought measuring pitchers, containers, and cups won’t always do the trick. The type of plastic you use depends on the industry you work in and the types of materials you are handling. There are three types of plastics you need to be aware of that are most resistant to chemicals:


Polyolefin plastics are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) and polypropylene (PP). These materials are excellent for chemical resistance and are cost-effective, so they won’t significantly impact your company’s bottom line. 

Polyolefin plastics are intended to be used for low to moderate operating temperatures. As the operating temperatures increase, the plastic becomes softer due to thermal expansion. Once the temperature is too high for the polyolefin, you risk a leak. 

Polyolefins are generally used in the food service industry for storing foods, specifically dairy products. Polyolefins are considered one of the safest plastic containers for food packaging because it is a BPA free plastic, so you reduce the risk of chemical leaching into your product.  

Rigid Vinyls

Rigid vinyls obtain polyvinyl-chloride (PVC) and chlorinated polyvinyl-chloride (CPVC). Rigid vinyls stand up to many industrial chemicals and are much stronger, stiffer, and dimensionally stable than polyolefins. Like polyolefins, they are meant to be used for chemicals with low to moderate operating temperatures. 

Unlike polyolefin, PVC plastics are identified as one of the most toxic chemicals for plastic food storage due to its release of toxic chemicals when under high temperatures. Rigid vinyl plastics are primarily used for chemicals used in agricultural, lawn care, and industrial industries because they can withstand high chemical toxicity.


Fluoropolymers are composed of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF), and Halar® ECTFE. These materials offer broad chemical resistance and can be used at much higher temperatures than polyolefins or rigid vinyls. 

Unlike polyolefins and vinyls, they are available in hard and soft styles depending on your operational needs. Fluoropolymer plastics are ideal for healthcare and research operations; they are often used for valves and piping applications that involve storing and transmitting hazardous fluids.

High-Performance Plastics

High-performance plastics such as polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) and polyetheretherketone (PEEK) are the most durable chemical-resistant plastics. They achieve outstanding chemical resistance and operate at much higher operating temperatures than polyolefins, vinyls, and fluoropolymers. 

PPS and PEEK are more reliable than other chemically resistant plastics because they supply superior friction capabilities and wear characteristics. These high-performance plastics are ideal for the research and science industry because they can withstand the most toxic chemicals.

Axiom Products provides chemical-resistant and leak-proof plastics for all your chemical handling needs. Guarantee employee safety and measuring accuracy and precision by connecting with us today.

What Is Chemical Leaching in Plastic?

Today, we use plastics in our everyday lives for various purposes. As mentioned above, some plastics contain Bisphenol A—more commonly known as BPA—which can lead to chemical leaching and be toxic if ingested frequently. 

Chemical leaching in plastic is the transfer or leaking of chemicals from plastic to the foods or beverages it contains. Chemical-resistant plastics such as polyolefins are BPA-free. They are suitable for storing leftovers and keeping food fresh for food service and manufacturing industries if stored at a low to moderate temperature. 

Studies are showing that constant exposure to BPA can cause significant health concerns, including: 

  • Obesity/ Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Reproductive issues
  • Asthma
  • Cancer

There are several ways you can reduce exposure to chemical leaching. For starters, when heating food in the microwave, avoid heating it in plasticware. Heating food in plasticware increases chemical transfer from the plastic to the food, leading to chemical leaching exposure.

Encourage Appropriate Material Handling Practices

Hazardous chemicals and materials should be handled with care. It is crucial that your employees understand and perform appropriate handling practices and be provided with reliable sanitation and safety products

Equipment such as gloves, rinsing nozzles, flags, and goggles are essential for employees and any guests or visitors near a chemical handling area. This safety equipment minimizes the risk of injury or misuse of chemical handling.

When working with hazardous chemicals, it’s vital to understand what chemical-resistant plastics work best for your industry and operation processes. For example, suppose you’re working in a food manufacturing plant and looking to store fresh food in a plastic container. In that case, your employees should be aware that they should use polyolefin plastics rather than rigid vinyls because they are safer for consumer digestion.

Axiom Products Provides High Quality Plastic Containers and Safety Materials

High quality plastic containers and safety materials are essential for safe and efficient chemical handling operations. Axiom handling and measuring products come in a variety of sizes; they ensure your employees’ safety and the accuracy and precision of the product for your consumers. Whether you store dry or wet chemical solutions, each material should be handled with care to avoid onsite injuries and ensure consumer health. 

We offer customized plastic molding and product imprinting solutions so you can have a product that is specific to your needs. By customizing your own products, you have the opportunity to obtain a high performing measuring tool that is always measured to scale.

Axiom Products has been providing reliable products and safety equipment to industries across the board since 2004, and our products only improve with time. We deliver unparalleled accuracy, precision, and safety for all of your organization’s chemical measuring and handling supply needs. Contact us today to supply your employees with the highest quality safety equipment and measuring tools.