Rubber, Natural Rubber, or Natural Rubber Latex?
Every day we’re surrounded by products composed of rubber, natural rubber, and natural rubber latex. In fact, these compounds are so common that, at first glance, you may not know exactly what they are. Let’s take a moment to talk about what nuances make these substances amazing, where they come from, and how we use them.
The Humble Eraser
Kent Elastomer is one of the world’s leading producers of natural rubber latex and other elastomer based products. So, we’re not bragging when we say we know a thing or two about this stuff! For example, did you know that the word “rubber” dates all the way back to the 1700’s? It’s is believed that the noted theologian, chemist, and philosopher, Joseph Priestley first coined the term in as a passing reference to its ability to “rub out” marks made by graphite—the common carbon element also known as pencil lead. Indeed, one of rubber’s more common uses in the early days was to erase the ramblings of philosophers, like Joseph!
Today we use rubber for all manner of things, like tires, footballs, and rubber surgical tubing. You can find rubber nearly everywhere, even on the bottom of your feet!
Of course, in the 1700’s, rubber, natural rubber, and latex didn’t have nearly the applications they have now. For example, Kent Elastomer Products can turn natural and synthetic rubber latex into latex tubing, tourniquets, and complex elastomers. In the 1700’s, chemists were just happy with rubber that bounced, stretched and erased!
But limited applications for rubber doesn’t mean it wasn’t around a lot in the early years. Quite the opposite. Rubber—and it’s various forms—were and are everywhere. Natural rubber compounds can be extracted from nearly 1,000 different organic species, while latex occurs in roughly 10% of all flowering plants, like the common dandelion.
While we may think of latex in relation to gloves, paint, tubing, and tires, latex is actually any polymer that is in a water-based or viscous form. Indeed, only seeing latex in terms of latex gloves or other dip-molded products eschews the fact that much latex is natural and organically occurring. Natural latex, or natural rubber latex, for example, is a complex emulsion consisting of alkaloids, starches, sugars, oils, proteins, tannins, resins, and gums that coagulate on exposure to air—the stuff that natural chemistry cooks up every day.
Natural Rubber Latex
Natural Rubber Latex looks like white sap and can be extracted from a variety of trees. Perhaps you’ve heard of milkweed? Well, the milk in milkweed is—you guessed it— natural latex!
Naturally occurring latex sap can be collected and refined into other, more diverse and useful products. Here at Kent Elastomer, we use highly refined and researched methods to manufacture natural rubber latex for use across medical and surgical fields, food and beverage, industrial, sport and leisure, orthodontia, dental, and laboratories.
Choosing Your Compound
Natural rubber is a versatile elastomer that can be put to a wide variety of uses, but knowing which one is right for you is crucial. For example, some people have allergic reactions to latex which effectively makes most rubber products unusable. Fortunately, KEP manufactures Free-Band® non-latex surgical tourniquet bands from a blend of materials offered exclusively through KEP that is specifically chosen to provide physical properties that closely resemble those of latex while eliminating concerns of latex sensitivity.
To learn more about what Kent Elastomer, our products, and what we can do for you, fill out our contact form and tell us about your project. We love a challenge!