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Natural Rubber vs. Vulcanized Rubber: What's the Difference?

By Aimie Carlson & Janet White || Published on December 9, 2023
Natural Rubber refers to elastic material obtained from latex of rubber trees. Vulcanized Rubber refers to natural rubber chemically treated with sulfur to enhance durability and heat resistance.

Key Differences

Natural rubber is a soft, elastic substance derived from the latex of rubber trees, primarily used in its raw form. Vulcanized rubber, on the other hand, is natural rubber that has undergone a chemical process involving sulfur to improve its properties.
The main characteristic of natural rubber is its high elasticity and flexibility at room temperature. Vulcanized rubber, however, exhibits increased strength, elasticity, and resistance to temperature variations and chemicals.
Natural rubber is more susceptible to temperature changes, becoming brittle in cold and sticky in heat. Vulcanized rubber maintains its integrity and elasticity under a broader range of temperatures.
In terms of applications, natural rubber is used in products requiring flexibility and stretch, like gloves and balloons. Vulcanized rubber is used in more demanding applications like car tires and industrial belts where durability is crucial.
The processing of natural rubber into vulcanized rubber marks a significant advancement in material science, greatly expanding its utility and lifespan in various applications.

Comparison Chart


Latex from rubber trees
Natural rubber treated with sulfur

Elasticity and Flexibility

High at room temperature, varies with temperature
Maintains across a wide temperature range

Strength and Durability

Lower compared to vulcanized rubber
Significantly improved over natural rubber

Temperature Resistance

Sensitive to temperature changes
High resistance to heat and cold

Common Uses

Gloves, balloons, elastic bands
Tires, conveyor belts, shoe soles

Natural Rubber and Vulcanized Rubber Definitions

Natural Rubber

A raw material for producing various rubber products.
Natural rubber is processed into tires and hoses.

Vulcanized Rubber

Rubber chemically treated with sulfur to improve durability.
Vulcanized rubber is used in making durable car tires.

Natural Rubber

A stretchable material derived from the latex of rubber trees.
The natural rubber in these bands makes them very elastic.

Vulcanized Rubber

Rubber with enhanced properties for outdoor use.
Outdoor furniture often uses vulcanized rubber for weather resistance.

Natural Rubber

A soft, malleable substance used in medical and household items.
Medical gloves are often made from natural rubber.

Vulcanized Rubber

A form of rubber resistant to chemicals and wear.
These protective boots are made from vulcanized rubber.

Natural Rubber

An organic polymer with high elasticity.
The balloon's natural rubber allows it to expand greatly.

Vulcanized Rubber

A strengthened rubber used in industrial applications.
Vulcanized rubber hoses are used in machinery for their strength.

Natural Rubber

A biodegradable substance used in environmentally friendly products.
This mat is made from 100% natural rubber.

Vulcanized Rubber

A heat-resistant material used in high-temperature environments.
This conveyor belt is made of vulcanized rubber to withstand heat.


How is vulcanized rubber made?

Vulcanized rubber is made by treating natural rubber with sulfur and heat.

Is vulcanized rubber more durable than natural rubber?

Yes, vulcanization significantly increases the durability and lifespan of rubber.

Is natural rubber used in medical applications?

Yes, natural rubber is commonly used in medical gloves and other flexible medical devices.

Are there any disadvantages to using natural rubber?

Natural rubber can degrade over time and is not as resistant to chemicals and temperature as vulcanized rubber.

How does natural rubber react to chemicals?

Natural rubber can be damaged by certain chemicals, oils, and solvents.

Are there environmental benefits to using natural rubber?

Yes, natural rubber is biodegradable and often considered more eco-friendly.

Are there any common products made from vulcanized rubber?

Yes, car tires, industrial belts, and shoe soles are often made from vulcanized rubber.

Are there any health concerns with natural rubber?

Some people may have allergic reactions to proteins found in natural rubber.

Can natural rubber withstand high temperatures?

No, natural rubber is sensitive to temperature extremes.

Is natural rubber more flexible than vulcanized rubber?

Yes, natural rubber is generally more flexible but less durable.

What is natural rubber?

Natural rubber is an elastic material derived from the sap of rubber trees.

Does vulcanized rubber maintain its elasticity in cold temperatures?

Yes, vulcanized rubber retains its elasticity even in cold environments.

Is natural rubber waterproof?

Natural rubber is inherently water-resistant but not as effective as vulcanized rubber.

Can vulcanized rubber be used in electrical applications?

Yes, due to its insulating properties, vulcanized rubber is used in electrical insulators and cables.

Can vulcanized rubber be colored or branded?

Yes, vulcanized rubber can be easily colored and branded for various applications.

Are there any alternatives to vulcanized rubber for high-stress applications?

Synthetic rubbers and silicones are often used as alternatives in high-stress applications.

Does vulcanization affect the weight of rubber?

Vulcanization does not significantly change the weight but improves strength and resistance.

Is vulcanized rubber recyclable?

Vulcanized rubber is more challenging to recycle due to its chemical cross-linking.

Can vulcanized rubber be used in marine applications?

Yes, due to its durability and resistance to saltwater, it is suitable for marine applications.

Is natural rubber more sustainable than synthetic alternatives?

Natural rubber is renewable and biodegradable, making it a more sustainable choice than many synthetic rubbers.
About Author
Written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.
Co-written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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