Chronicle 7: What’s the Difference Between Latex and Rubber?

July 13, 2022


Rubber Chronicles

Rubber tree sap


Like rubber, latex can be natural or synthetic. Natural latex is the substance harvested from the rubber tree- also called tree latex.

Latex, whether natural or synthetic, refers to a suspension of small rubber particles in a liquid medium. For natural rubber latex, it is the white milky slurry you see in this image (left) and in the YULEX Rubber Chronicle videos.

Natural tree latex also contains high water content (over 60%). It therefore must be concentrated before it can be commercially sold and shipped because shipping large volumes of anything with water is cost prohibitive. There are different methods for concentrating the latex such as centrifugation, creaming and evaporation. The most common being centrifugation.

Tree latex is tapped, collected and transferred to large tanks. It is treated with ammonia to prevent bacterial growth and then concentrated using industrial high speed centrifuges that remove the water to make about a 60% concentrated latex.  

Tree latex being processed

Check out our Instagram Reel


Like latex, rubber can be natural or synthetic. Previous YULEX Rubber Chronicles showed processes for making solid cup lump and 3L grade natural rubber (you can watch the reels on our Instagram if you missed them).

Whether cup lump or 3L solid rubber, they both start from tree latex. The rubber bales are formed using a high heat process. So the processing of natural latex and natural rubber (cup lump and 3L) are different, but both start with tree latex.  

Certain applications use natural latex and others use natural (solid) rubber. Most rubber products for consumer goods use (natural or synthetic) solid rubber such as footwear, wetsuits, fashion accessories, sports braces, bicycle tires, etc.   Other goods such as gloves, condoms, balloons, catheters, etc., are made from (natural or synthetic) latex.

We are all about natural latex and natural rubber - of course.

3L rubber video

Lady with raw rubber material in factory

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