Silicone vs Latex. What Is Difference?

What is the difference between Silicone and Latex? These two materials are widely found in the market and are extensively utilized in various fields such as mattresses, everyday items, medical care, and more. However, determining the superiority of silicone or latex and deciding on their applications can be a challenging task. This article aims to explore the dissimilarities between silicone and latex, as well as shed light on the industries where these materials find utility. By delving into these details, we hope to provide you with valuable insights to aid in making an informed decision for your products.

1. What is Silicone?

Silicone is a type of polymer composed of repeating molecular units that combine to form long chains. These chains consist of alternating silicon and oxygen atoms, creating a structure that allows for the attachment of hydrocarbons or other chemical groups, resulting in a complete silicone polymer molecule.

As an inorganic thermosetting polymer, silicone is commonly mixed in liquid form with a base polymer and a catalyst. Upon mixing, it initiates an exothermic chemical reaction, leading to the curing process.

Silicone can be categorized into three main subcategories: Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR), Heat-Cured Rubber (HCR), and Room Temperature Vulcanizing (RTV) silicone. RTV silicone further branches into RTV-1, which cures upon exposure to air, and RTV-2, a combination of a pre-polymer and a catalyst that cures at room temperature.

Different classes of silicone may undergo various processing methods. RTV-1 is typically dispensed from a tube and cures in the presence of air, while the two liquid components of RTV-2 are mixed immediately before use. Generally, silicone is processed through techniques such as open mold casting, compression molding, or injection molding.

Silicones exhibit a wide range of physical and mechanical properties, varying from a Shore A hardness of 10 to 90. They possess excellent resistance to high temperatures, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and ozone. However, they tend to have poor resistance to cutting and tearing, low tensile strength, and limited abrasion resistance.

2. What is Latex?

Latex comes in two main forms: natural latex and synthetic latex. Natural latex is derived from the sap of the rubber tree, scientifically known as Hevea brasiliensis.

Synthetic latex: is produced by blending artificial latex with natural latex. This combination allows it to possess the elasticity and flexibility of natural latex while also offering the hypoallergenic properties of artificial latex. Moreover, synthetic latex is a cost-effective option, making it a preferred material among numerous mattress manufacturers.

Natural latex: is renowned as the most authentic rubber material, obtained by extracting sap from trees and incorporating a foaming agent. It possesses excellent support and elasticity, making it a preferred choice for many mattress buyers. However, it’s crucial to note that natural latex is vulnerable to chemical stimuli such as acid corrosion and aging caused by sun exposure. To enhance the material’s durability, it is essential to incorporate anti-aging agents

When the bark of the rubber tree is incised, a milky white fluid is released, which serves as the raw material for natural latex rubber. This fluid is then processed into a rubber material using either the Dunlop™ or the Talalay method. Both methods yield a material with exceptional elongation, tear resistance, and moisture resistance. It’s important to note that natural latex can potentially trigger severe allergic reactions in certain individuals.

On the other hand, synthetic latex, also known as emulsion polymer or engineered latex, is produced from petroleum-based SBR (styrene butadiene) polymer chains. Synthetic latex does not cause allergic reactions. Common processing technologies for both natural and synthetic latex include rubber injection molding, calendering, extrusion, immersion dipping, and compression molding.

3. Silicone vs Latex: Applications and Uses

Based on the previous information, we have gained a general understanding that the dissimilarities between silicone and latex primarily stem from their nature and composition. As a result of these variances, the application areas of these two materials also diverge. To provide a clearer understanding, let’s outline the respective application ranges of silicone rubber and latex

Silicone application range

Medical Industry

Both silicone and latex find applications in the medical field, but silicone rubber has a broader range of uses. Medical consumables, such as silicone breathing masks, silicone infusion tubes, and orthodontic braces, often utilize silicone rubber. Additionally, silicone is employed in the production of artificial prostheses like endonasal splints, cardiac pacemakers, cardiac stents, and more, primarily due to its superior safety compared to latex. Latex can potentially cause allergic reactions upon contact with human skin.

Culinary Industry

Silicone is frequently employed in the culinary industry due to its properties that are safe for human consumption. Silicone does not contain harmful substances such as plasticizers and bisphenol A. Moreover, it can withstand high temperatures, making it an ideal choice for food-contact items like cake molds, spatulas, bowls, and plates.

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry highly values the exceptional heat resistance of silicone rubber. With car hoods typically reaching temperatures of around 80-90°C, silicone rubber’s capability to withstand temperatures up to approximately 230°C makes it a preferred material for engine cover components. Furthermore, silicone is frequently utilized for sealing strips placed in the gaps of car doors, enhancing their effectiveness and durability.

Electronic Industry

The stable and long-lasting properties of silicone make it a common choice for various components in the electronics industry. It finds applications in items like dashboards, buttons, and dust-proof gaskets. Additionally, silicone rubber is utilized in circuit boards, displays, and screens, where it is employed to create conductive adhesive strips. These strips aid in connecting electronic components such as displays and circuit boards effectively.

Aerospace Industry

Silicone, known for its exceptional temperature resistance, is widely employed as a primary sealing material in the aerospace industry. Considering that aircraft often traverse diverse climates and high altitudes, where temperatures can drop below 0°C, maintaining the necessary elasticity of parts becomes crucial. In such scenarios, silicone rubber proves to be an excellent choice due to its ability to retain elasticity even in extremely cold conditions.

Latex application range


Latex finds extensive application in bedding, specifically in items like pillows and mattresses, owing to its remarkable flexibility and elasticity. When purchasing bedding products, it is advisable to opt for those containing a higher proportion of natural latex. Why? Bedding is furniture that is intended for long-term use, and artificial latex may potentially release toxic substances that can be harmful to human health. By selecting bedding made with natural latex, one can avoid potential health hazards and ensure a safer sleeping environment.

Household Hygiene

The good skin affinity of latex makes it an ideal choice for sanitary gloves. Latex gloves not only provide protection against chemical agents but also offer enhanced grip, preventing slips and enhancing cleaning efficiency effectively. This makes them highly suitable for maintaining household hygiene and ensuring safe and efficient cleaning practices.

Medical Care

When it comes to medical applications, both silicone and latex find utility in the production of medical products. However, there are distinct differences between their applications in the medical field. Disposable medical gloves, worn by doctors during injections or surgeries, are typically made of latex. These gloves offer excellent barrier properties, anti-slip effects, and a high level of elasticity, allowing them to fit most individuals. Their ergonomic design ensures comfort, ease of use, and enhances doctors’ diagnostic efficiency.

On the other hand, silicone rubber is more extensively employed in the manufacturing of medical supplies compared to latex, primarily due to its high stability. It finds application in various medical products, contributing to their durability and reliability in medical care settings.

4. Silicone vs Latex: Cost

Silicone, being an advanced engineering material, tends to be relatively expensive. The cost of silicone can vary significantly depending on the grade used. In general, natural latex is typically more costly than synthetic latex. However, when comparing silicone to latex, silicone is usually more expensive due to its broader range of applications and higher suitability for various purposes.

5. Silicone vs Latex: Recyclability and Sustainability

Natural latex can be considered a sustainable material as it is derived from trees, which are a renewable resource. In contrast, synthetic latex is produced from petroleum, making it non-sustainable. Neither natural nor synthetic latex can be recycled, but natural latex is biodegradable. It can be broken down by bacteria, although at a slow pace, taking approximately six months to four years for complete decomposition. It’s important to note that some natural latex products are treated with non-biodegradable chemicals to prevent bacterial growth during use. In comparison, synthetic latex is non-biodegradable as the chemicals used in its production do not break down.

Silicone, being a thermosetting polymer, cannot be recycled like certain thermoplastics. If heated beyond its maximum operating temperature, silicone decomposes into harmful chemicals. Additionally, silicone is not produced from sustainable and renewable resources, as petroleum products are required during its manufacturing process.

This article provided an overview of silicone and latex, explaining their characteristics and applications in manufacturing. To learn more about silicone and latex, contact A1 Silicones

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