Nitrile gloves vs latex gloves, what are the differences? No matter which industry you work in, having hand protection is crucial in maintaining cleanliness and safety. Even the average civilian utilizes hand protection while participating in everyday activities such as pulling weeds, disinfecting cuts, and touching snow. Hand protection allows people to take precautions by shielding their hands and upper arms from potential injuries, hazards, and other harmful substances. When in need of a thinner and more practical hand protection option, both nitrile and latex gloves are popular choices in society today. Both types of gloves are heavily used, especially in the healthcare industry, and it is essential to understand their individual specialties in order to choose the best glove for your endeavor.
Nitrile Gloves vs Latex Gloves: Material and Composition
Nitrile gloves are developed from a synthesized copolymer called nitrile butadiene rubber, also known as NBR. NBR is derived through the bonding of the acrylonitrile and butadiene molecules. Due to the glove’s unique composition and manufacturing process, the aforementioned synthetic nature of nitrile produces a more resilient material compared to latex gloves. During the manufacturing process, the gloves undergo polymerization or chlorination. Most nitrile gloves are polymerized because chlorination often causes the gloves to turn yellow after long usage and perspiration.
Latex gloves, on the other hand, are derived from natural rubber latex, which is a milky fluid extracted from rubber trees, the most common tree being Hevea Brasiliensis. After the fluid is extracted from the tree, it is processed and refined in order to create rubber-based products, such as latex gloves. While the natural properties of rubber latex, such as its elasticity and flexibility allow it to be more form-fitting and comfortable on the hands, 4.3% of the population may have latex allergies and thus it is important to understand the risks of latex gloves present to those unaware of their own allergies or sensitivities.
Nitrile Gloves vs Latex Gloves: Performance and Protection
As COVID-19 continues to evolve today, its pandemic effects on this world were clearly suppressed by the widespread wearing of gloves to reduce transmission. During this pandemic, nitrile gloves proved to be more puncture-resistant than latex gloves and thus, proved to provide better and longer protection, especially when working with heavier weighted items and hazardous chemicals. Moreover, because of their extreme durability and polymer composition, many nitrile gloves survive beyond their conservatively prescribed expiration date when stored in more ideal conditions to meet pandemic-era supply shortages.
It is a fact that latex gloves are made of material that is less dense than nitrile gloves, with their thinner composition allowing for better tactile accuracy. Touching an item can almost resemble skin-to-object contact without the thicker rubber barrier of a nitrile glove. This concise contact provides for their effective application in low-risk environments where wearers must feel and manipulate objects with greater precision and sensitivity. Tasks that require fine motor skills and dexterity, including handling micro parts or performing delicate procedures are better suited for latex gloves. However, millions are allergic to latex and thus many manufacturers and corporations, especially healthcare facilities reduce reliance on these gloves whenever possible to avoid situations where employees or patients develop severe unknown allergic reactions. Subsequently, this fear explains why many companies opt for nitrile or even vinyl gloves above traditional latex gloves. Specifically, several states in the US such as Arizona, California, Illinois, Hawaii, Connecticut, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Oregon have completely banned the use of latex gloves in their food service industries.
Nitrile Gloves vs Latex Gloves: Comfort and Fit
Nitrile gloves exhibit a snug and form-fitting nature, providing them with the excellent characteristic of conforming to the hand.
Since latex is created from rubber, with properties including natural elasticity and stretch, it consequently also creates the issue of greater perspiration. Lack of air circulation may occur with its extended use. Oftentimes, this characteristic combined with the natural breakdown of proteins whereby latex gloves often turn yellow with time, creates a dilemma for users who enjoy their thinness, elasticity, and sensitivity.
Nonetheless, both Nitrile and Latex Gloves have powder-free versions to address risks of allergic reactions, reduce contamination and infections, improve grip, and enhance comfort.
Nitrile Gloves vs Latex Gloves: Cost and Availability
Nitrile gloves cost anywhere from $0.06 for manufacturers to produce in bulk to $1.95 per unit when finally sold by retailers across the globe. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both nitrile and latex gloves have experienced extremely high demand and have seen a tremendous price increase. However, many popular consumer companies still have them in stock.
Latex gloves cost between $0.01 for manufacturers to produce in bulk to $1.50 per unit when purchased in retail stores. The prevalence of latex allergies in so many people prior to COVID-19 had made many wary of buying latex gloves, leading to a decrease in demand and an increase in excess supply.
Nitrile Gloves vs Latex Gloves: Comparison Chart
|Natural rubber latex derived from the sap of rubber trees
|Synthetic rubber (nitrile butadiene rubber)
|Can cause allergic reactions in some individuals, especially those with latex allergies or latex sensitivity
|Hypoallergenic and suitable for individuals with latex allergies
|Less durable and prone to punctures or tears compared to nitrile gloves
|More durable and resistant to punctures or tears
|Soft and comfortable, conform well to the hands
|Less stretchy and more rigid compared to latex gloves, can be less comfortable for extended wear
|Provide a high level of tactile sensitivity, allowing for better dexterity
|Slightly less sensitive than latex gloves, but still offer good tactile sensitivity
|Moderate resistance to some chemicals and biological substances
|Excellent resistance to a wide range of chemicals and biological substances
|Highly elastic and offer a snug fit
|Less elastic than latex gloves, but still provide a good fit
|Generally less expensive compared to nitrile gloves
|Slightly more expensive than latex gloves
|Widely used in healthcare, food industry, and general household applications
|Preferred choice in healthcare, laboratories, automotive, and industrial settings
|Latex gloves are made from a renewable resource but are not biodegradable
|Nitrile gloves are not biodegradable, but efforts have been made to develop eco-friendly options
Each and every application is unique and specific, and the evaluation of what type of glove to use in every job is pivotal. The aforementioned reviews and summarizes the material, performance, comfort, and cost characteristics of both nitrile and latex gloves, in order to deliver the most resourceful and helpful information to consumers. Both nitrile and latex gloves have been consistently tested and approved by various global regulators. Therefore, it is up to each end user to decide which glove is the right, or left, hand protection for themselves.
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