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HDPE vs. MDPE: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 5, 2024
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) is a strong, dense plastic used in rigid products, while MDPE (Medium-Density Polyethylene) offers more flexibility, used in gas pipes and fittings.

Key Differences

HDPE, known for its high strength-to-density ratio, is used in products requiring rigidity and durability, such as milk jugs and water pipes. MDPE, with its lower density, provides more flexibility, making it ideal for gas pipes and protective covers.
The density of HDPE is higher, which contributes to its rigidity and chemical resistance, making it suitable for high-pressure applications. MDPE, with a medium density, offers better shock and drop resistance, beneficial in applications like underground pipes.
HDPE's structure gives it a higher melting point, making it suitable for applications with higher temperature exposure. MDPE, while still heat resistant, has a lower melting point in comparison, aligning with its use in environments with less extreme temperatures.
The high-density nature of HDPE makes it less flexible but more resistant to permeability, suitable for containers holding liquids. MDPE, being more flexible, is used in applications where a degree of flexibility is advantageous, such as flexible tubing.
HDPE is often recycled into plastic lumber, containers, and pipes, reflecting its durability and rigidity. MDPE's flexibility and resistance to stress cracking make it ideal for products like gas pipes and fittings that require resilience under variable conditions.

Comparison Chart




More rigid
Less rigid, more flexible

Melting Point


Chemical Resistance

Higher resistance to chemicals
Good resistance, less than HDPE

Typical Applications

Milk jugs, water pipes, containers
Gas pipes, protective covers, tubing

HDPE and MDPE Definitions


Characterized by its high-density and chemical resistance.
HDPE pipes are used for their high chemical resistance.


Less rigid than HDPE, with lower temperature resistance.
MDPE is preferred over HDPE for certain outdoor applications.


Suitable for high-pressure and high-temperature applications.
HDPE's high melting point makes it perfect for hot water pipes.


Offers a balance of toughness and flexibility.
MDPE's toughness makes it suitable for protective gear.


A strong, dense type of polyethylene plastic.
The outdoor furniture was made of HDPE to withstand the elements.


Has medium-density and good shock resistance.
MDPE is chosen for underground pipes for its shock resistance.


Commonly recycled into new plastic products.
Recycled HDPE is often used in plastic lumber.


A more flexible type of polyethylene plastic.
MDPE is used for gas pipes due to its flexibility.


Used in products requiring high strength and rigidity.
HDPE is ideal for making durable plastic bottles.


Used where a degree of flexibility is required.
Flexible tubing is often made from MDPE.


Is HDPE more rigid than MDPE?

Yes, due to its higher density.

What does HDPE stand for?

High-Density Polyethylene.

Are HDPE products recyclable?

Yes, HDPE is commonly recycled.

Can MDPE be used for high-temperature applications?

It's less suitable compared to HDPE due to its lower melting point.

Can MDPE be used for drinking water pipes?

Yes, it is safe and commonly used for water pipes.

Is HDPE suitable for water pipes?

Yes, particularly for its chemical resistance and strength.

What are common uses of MDPE?

Gas pipes, protective covers, and tubing.

What is the key advantage of MDPE?

Its balance of toughness and flexibility.

Why is HDPE used in milk jugs?

Its strength and chemical resistance make it ideal for food containers.

Does MDPE degrade easily?

No, it is durable and has good resistance to degradation.

Is HDPE more expensive than MDPE?

The cost can vary, but generally, HDPE can be more expensive due to its properties.

Can MDPE be used in high-pressure situations?

It's suitable for medium-pressure applications.

What is the environmental impact of HDPE?

It is recyclable, reducing its environmental footprint.

Can MDPE be colored?

Yes, it can be easily colored for different applications.

What is the lifespan of MDPE products?

It varies, but MDPE is known for its long durability.

Can HDPE withstand freezing temperatures?

Yes, it performs well in both high and low temperatures.

How does HDPE react to chemicals?

It has high chemical resistance.

Is MDPE more shock-resistant than HDPE?

Yes, its medium density provides better shock resistance.

Is HDPE safe for food storage?

Yes, it is commonly used for food-safe containers.

Is MDPE suitable for underground use?

Yes, its flexibility and toughness make it suitable for underground applications.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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