A Guide to Galvanized Steel

“Not all steel is created equal. Behrens steel is more durable than plastic and resistant to rodent, rust, and odor.”

Even if you’re not in the metal industry, you’ve surely heard the term “galvanized steel.” But do you know what, exactly, it means? What it’s used for? And the benefits of using it? At Behrens, we’ve been manufacturing galvanized steel products for more than 100 years. Generations have used and enjoyed our products, from traditional pails and buckets to more recent bird feeders and compost pail introductions. We manufacture galvanized steel products for a reason: they’re quite simply the best. And we’re happy to tell you why.

From our experts at Behrens, here are the basics of Galvanized Steel 101.

What is galvanized steel?

Galvanizing is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel. Why zinc? It’s key in the prevention of rust. Steel, on its own, can rust in reaction to elements like air, rain and snow. Applying the zinc coating, or galvanizing, prevents rust from occurring. It provides a long-lasting, highly durable, weather-, chemical-, and rodent-resistant finish, which is shiny and looks like new even after years of use.

There are two different types of galvanized steel: Regular galvanized steel, which we just described, and hot dipped galvanized steel.

Hot dipped galvanized steel
The most common form of galvanizing is the “hot dip” method. According to the American Galvanizers Association, hot dipping has been used since 1742. It immerses steel in a hot bath of molten zinc, which provides “maintenance-free corrosion protection at a reasonable price.” Hot dipping creates a very different finish and look than the shiny finish of galvanized steel products. Hot dipped products have a more textured, rustic finish, rather than the smooth, shiny look of galvanized steel. But it’s not just about looks. Hot dipping seals the product for wet or dry contents.

Little-known fact: In 1772, Luigi Galvani discovered the process that took on his name during an experiment with, of all things, frog legs.

Galvanized compared to hot dipped steelGalvanized compared to hot dipped steel

Benefits of galvanized steel


If your steel products — like buckets, cans or other decorative items like composting pails and bird feeders — are not galvanized, you run the risk of rust and corrosion. They’ll require maintenance and upkeep to look and perform their best. With galvanized steel, you just “set it and forget it.” You won’t even need to think about upkeep. Your workhorse products will keep doing the job for years and sometimes a lifetime without any maintenance.

Saves you money

Galvanized steel is an economical investment. Because products like our cans, pails, tubs and watering cans are galvanized, they’ll provide long-lasting resistance to wind, rain, air and other elements.

“Wall-to-wall” coverage

Because the process of hot-dipped galvanizing immerses the entire product into molten steel, you’ll have coverage in all of the nooks and crannies. That means there’s no chance rust will take hold in an uncovered area and provides a watertight seal and textured rustic finish.

100% recyclable

Galvanized steel products are highly durable, weather-, chemical- and rodent-resistant. Behrens products are also 100% recyclable. When metal products reach the end of their useful life, the materials are simply collected and recycled, again and again, with no loss of their inherent properties. It is the ultimate sustainable material for the needs of the modern world.

Customers demand it

In today’s world, in which everyone is concerned about sustainability, recycling and environmental awareness, our customers and retailers are increasingly demanding galvanized steel products in response to their own customer demand. Consumers have a strong preference for companies that adopt environmentally friendly products and packaging and support companies, like Behrens, that carry out recycling. Purchasing products that are kinder to the planet and sustainable, shows your commitment to helping the environment.

A perfect alternative to plastic

Plastic has been around for just short of a century, yet it has already had a detrimental effect on our environment. Due to the significant impacts that plastic has had on the world, ecosystems and environment, we must all reduce the amount of plastics we are purchasing and using.

Metal is a true recycling story. It’s estimated that an astonishing 80% of all metal ever produced is still in use today. It is rarely wasted and can be easily recycled. Plastic is difficult to recycle and in 50% of cases can be used only once. Some packaging materials can be recycled an infinite number of times, others just 2 or 3 times.

Let’s break down the lifespan of some of the most commonly used packaging materials:

Behrens Galvanized Steel Cans - Logo Bushel
  • Paper – 5 to 7 times
  • Cardboard – 3 to 4 times
  • Glass – Infinitely
  • Plastic – Once
  • Polystyrene – Once
  • Aluminium, copper and other metals – Infinitely

What you can do with galvanized steel products

You’ll see galvanized steel used everywhere, in steel frame buildings, balconies, staircases and fences. Any steel structure that’s going to spend its lifecycle outdoors is likely made of galvanized steel. But there are many more ways for galvanized steel to be used around the home for retail customers.

At Behrens, we sell galvanized steel products for various lifestyle uses, such as:

Metalware Classics

These functional workhorse products used in homes as well as in commercial settings and on the farm include:

They’re useful and beautiful, environmentally responsible and durable.

Behrens Galvanized Steel Cans

Home Industrials

This new line is designed to bring customers simple, stylish products that create experiences.

  • Cleaning and organizing. These products, like pails and buckets, allow you to get and keep things the way you like them, in style.
  • Entertaining. These tubs, tracks and buckets bring a hip, industrialized edge to entertaining.
  • Pet and bird. Water and food dishes for Fido, bird feeders for your feathered friends.
  • Garden. Functional and beautiful planters, trays and tubs.
Person holding red bucket of cleaning supplies

At Behrens, we manufacture responsibly, preserving the earth’s natural resources, reducing energy consumption and emissions. We are a proud partner of  the non-profit global organization Metal Recycles Forever, which strives to make metal the preferred choice for consumer and industrial packaging. Behrens is one of the select few manufacturers authorized to display their logo on our products.  If you’re interested in finding out more about our beautiful and functional galvanized steel products, please check out our catalog or contact us today.

Behrens on Sustainability

Behrens wants consumers and retailers to know that steel is one of the most sustainable products on the planet. With 70% of domestic steel starting as scrap metal, it can be infinitely recycled with no loss of inherent properties, is rodent-proof, odor-proof, weather and chemical resistant with zero petroleum. All of these attributes make steel a superior material to plastic, a limited-recyclable material that is shown to harm wildlife, oceans and people.

Visit behrensmfg.com to learn more, including where to find a scrap metal recycler in your area.  An electronic media kit is available at behrensmfg.com/press.

About Behrens

Founded in 1911, Behrens Manufacturing creates high-quality, well-crafted metalware in Winona, Minnesota. From the past century to today, Behrens is forever forged into the fabric of U.S. manufacturing and remains a tribute to American ingenuity and craftsmanship. Behrens Manufacturing is proud to be the number one steel container manufacturer in America. Visit online at behrensmfg.com to learn more.