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Latex is a natural product and goes a long way to your wardrobe.
On large plantations in Malaysia, India or Brazil, rubber trees (hevea brasiliensis) are cultivated and their bark is carved using a special technique in order to get to the white milky sap of the rubber tree. This so-called latex milk contains up to 20% natural rubber. To extract the rubber (Indian. Cao 'tree' and ochu 'tear'; together “tear of the tree”) from the latex milk, it is first thickened and the rubber is precipitated by adding diluted acetic acid and then dried. The annual production amounts to about 7.6 million tons and is distributed according to rank to a total of 17 production countries.
Howerver the yellowish colored natural rubber obtained in this way does not yet have any material properties. It is a viscous mass that slowly "melts" under its own weight during longer storage time. This property is called "visco-elasticity". Latex clothing and countless technical applications of rubber were only made possible by the vulcanization discovered by Charles Goodyear in 1839. At the molecular level, rubber consists of very long hydrocarbon chains. These can move freely against each other and thus ensure the viscous consistency. During vulcanization, the rubber is heated under pressure together with sulfur and other additives. The sulfur cross-links the chains with each another and in this way provides additional stability and, in particular, elasticity. The material properties can be precisely controlled via the sulfur content - the more sulfur, the harder and less elastic the latex obtained. The formation of the material properties is most easily understood in analogy to a rung ladder: The raw natural rubber corresponds to the loose stiles of the ladder - without rungs they can be moved against each other as desired. During vulcanization, the sulfur acts like the rungs for connecting the stiles - the more rungs are fitted between the stiles, the more stable the ladder becomes.
Only very little sulfur is used to make latex clothing. The result is a "wobbly" ladder with holmes that can be moved against each other or elastic latex for your favorite clothes. The latex is produced directly in sheets and can then be connected to one another by an adhesive, which imitates the vulcanization process and securely connects the latex layers. (Source: SimonO)