What are Nitrile Gloves?
Nitrile gloves are made from nitrile rubber, which is a type of synthetic rubber. Nitrile has been around for a long time but they were not as affordable in the past. With improved manufacturing technology, nitrile has become more affordable. They are form-fitting gloves that prevent them from falling off while in use. Generally, nitrile gloves are resistant to petroleum products and other chemicals. The higher the nitrile content in the gloves, the more resistance they will offer. They are commonly used in the airline, automotive, oil, and gas sectors which require workers to handle greasy or oily parts and products. Nitrile gloves do not need any powder and are easy to handle.
The nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) is the material used for gloves. It is made from a process called copolymerization of butadiene and acrylonitrile. The acrylonitrile provides the advantage of resistance to chemicals for nitrile gloves, while butadiene makes them more flexible and easy to use. Nitrile gloves come in black or blue color to easily identify if the gloves have any punctures. The automotive industry was one of the first industries to start using nitrile gloves. The mechanics appreciated the advantage of nitrile when working with grease, diesel, gasoline, or oil. The high heat resistance of nitrile was also an advantage for automobile mechanics who often have to touch hot parts.
What are Latex Gloves?
Latex gloves are also form-fitting gloves. Natural latex is a type of plant-based rubber that is very flexible and soft. Latex is often termed as a “second skin” due to its skin type characteristics. Latex gloves are widely used in several applications that require dexterity. They offer protection while allowing the users to feel the object being handled. This property is why surgical gloves are often made from latex. They often powdered with starch to make them easier to wear. One of the issues with latex gloves is that they contain proteins that can cause a severe allergic reaction in some people. The allergic reaction can range from slight discomfort to anaphylactic shock.
The rubber for latex gloves is extracted from a process called tapping. Rubber trees are tapped using steel tapping knives to remove the thin layer of bark. Milky white sap is collected which later is converted to rubber used in latex gloves. Latex gloves have been the popular choice for several applications including medical professionals, cleaners, factory workers, and more.
What are the similarities and differences between Nitrile vs Latex Gloves?
The biggest difference between latex and nitrile is that latex is a natural product, while nitrile is made from man-made material. The need for nitrile gloves was born because many people that suffer from latex allergies cannot use latex gloves. Nitrile gloves are hypoallergenic with a very low probability of nitrile rubber allergy. According to Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), about 1% of Americans have a latex allergy.
Nitrile gloves are useful not only if the person wearing them has latex allergy but if the person who is wearing the gloves comes in contact with someone who is allergic to latex, nitrile gloves would be safe to use. For example, dentists or tattoo artists often have physical contact with their patients or clients. Nitrile gloves offer a safer alternative to latex gloves. They are ideal for situations that require resistance to hydrocarbons. However, there are certain situations where latex gloves are preferred over nitrile gloves. While nitrile gloves have a clear advantage when working with chemicals. Latex gloves offer better protection against viruses and bacteria. Latex gloves also offer better dexterity which is extremely useful for surgeons who require precision with their hands.
Nitrile gloves offer better protection from organic solvents, which are tough on gloves. They can withstand a higher temperature compared to latex gloves. Nitrile gloves offer more puncture resistance than latex gloves with three times more puncture resistance than latex gloves. When dealing with sharp objects, nitrile has an edge over latex. As the manicuring processes for nitrile gloves improve, the competitive advantage of latex gloves of better dexterity, softness, and comfort is reducing. Nitrile gloves are becoming the standard choice for several professionals such as security guards, housekeepers, police officers, and more.
Another difference between latex and nitrile is price volatility. As latex is a natural plant-based product, there is more fluctuation in raw materials. Nitrile prices are more stable and with improving manufacturing processes, the cost is going down allowing for the price to reduce as well. Latex gloves come in different sizes as latex gloves are not as conforming as nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves fit more snugly than latex gloves. Long-term use of latex gloves can lead to hand fatigue. The synthetic material of nitrile gloves, provide them with a longer shelf life compared to latex.
Depending on the brand, latex gloves can be much cheaper compared to nitrile gloves. One clear advantage of latex gloves is that they are biodegradable. The natural material used in latex provides it with this major advantage. Organizations that have environmentally friendly practices, opt for latex gloves because of their biodegradable properties.