What is Nitrile Anyway?
Disposable nitrile gloves have become a mainstay in the medical, dental, lab, cleanroom and food handling industries. We enjoy their strong, latex-free comfort. But what is nitrile anyway?
The Science of Nitrile
Nitrile is a shortened term for Nitrile Butadiene Rubber, or NBR. Although it is also referred to as NBR latex, there is no natural rubber latex (or latex proteins) in the material. Nitrile is a synthetic rubber copolymer of acrylonitrile and butadiene. These two materials (monomers) are placed in a stainless steel vat, and using hot or cold polymerization, a chemical reaction occurs, and voila! Nitrile is born.
The nitrile latex is filtered and blended with an antioxidant to stabilize the material. Next, the liquid is solidified by adding coagulating agents, then finally washed and dried. The resulting material is referred to as “crumb rubber.” Crumb rubber can be liquefied by product manufacturers to make nitrile rubber materials, such as floor mats, footwear, adhesives and gloves.
Nitrile alone, without anything added, is a fairly rigid material. So glove manufacturers add a small percentage other chemicals to NBR in order to create a soft, or low modulus, nitrile glove. Over the past decade, these manufacturers have continued to improve their nitrile glove material formulations. Disposable nitrile gloves have grown softer and more elastic. The latest innovations in nitrile glove development include accelerator-free formulations that lower the risk of Type IV contact dermatitis in wearers.
These thin and flexible gloves are what we have all come to rely on to keep ourselves, our patients, products and food items safe. Nitrile gloves are more resistant to oils and acids than natural rubber (latex) gloves. The material is resistant to abrasion and puncture, making it suitably durable for many tasks. Low modulus nitrile gloves also conform well to the hand and provide excellent tactile sensitivity.
As disposable nitrile glove formulations evolve, hand protection is becoming ever safer and more comfortable. We look forward to continuing to bring you the very best nitrile gloves made from the latest materials.
Have you noticed the improvements in disposable nitrile gloves over the years? We’d love to hear your comments. Share them with us below!