How Latex Gloves are Made
Preparing the latex: While latex gloves come from natural rubber latex, they are not 100 percent pure. This is because manufacturers combine the latex concentrate with a number of compounding chemicals during the initial step of the production process. This step enhances the latex’s properties, such as the elasticity, as well as stabilizes the material and its shelf life.
Cleaning the moulds: To mold the latex into the shape of a glove, manufacturers use hand-shaped ceramic formers. The first task is to wash these formers by dipping them in water and then bleach. This ensures no residues are left from the previous batch. Afterward, formers dip into a chemical solution of calcium carbonate and calcium nitrate to help the latex stick.
Dipping in latex: Once the formers are ready, manufacturers dip them into a tank full of latex, with the length of time the former is immersed in the tank varying based on the desired glove thickness.
Vulcanizing the rubber: To ensure the rubber does not crack while drying, the formers enter an oven to dry and solidify. The development of the vulcanization process was integral to the creation of the latex rubber.
Leaching the gloves: This process involves dipping the gloves in water tanks and removing excess latex proteins to lower the risk of wearers having an allergic reaction and enhance the feel.
Beading the cuffs: Once the gloves are done with leaching, the manufacturers roll the cuffs to make the gloves easier to remove. The gloves may undergo leaching again after beading.
Applying powder: If the gloves are powdered, they enter a wet food-grade cornstarch powder slurry. Afterward, manufacturers dry the gloves again.
Chlorinating or polymer coating the gloves: If the gloves are powder free, they undergo alternative processes to facilitate easier donning. The first is chlorination, which makes the latex less tacky. The second involves coating the gloves with a polymer, which makes the surface smoother.
Stripping the gloves: Once the gloves are finished, workers remove them from the formers by hand.