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Rubber vs. Silicone: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 15, 2024
Rubber is an elastic material from plants or petroleum, used for flexibility and strength; silicone is a synthetic polymer, heat-resistant and used in diverse applications.

Key Differences

Rubber is a natural or synthetic elastic material, derived from latex of rubber trees or made from petroleum products. Silicone, a synthetic compound, consists of silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen, known for its flexibility and heat resistance.
Rubber is prized for its high elasticity and durability, making it ideal for tires, seals, and shock absorbers. Silicone stands out for its temperature resistance, chemical stability, and non-reactivity, used in cookware, medical devices, and sealants.
Rubber maintains its properties in moderate temperatures but can degrade under extreme heat or cold. Silicone excels in extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, making it suitable for kitchen utensils, electronics, and automotive components.
Natural rubber can degrade with exposure to oils, UV light, and ozone. Silicone is more resistant to UV light, ozone, and certain chemicals, but can be more expensive.
Rubber is widely used in the automotive industry for tires, belts, and hoses due to its strength and flexibility. Silicone's applications range from healthcare to electronics, benefiting from its thermal stability and insulating properties.

Comparison Chart


Natural/synthetic elastic material
Synthetic polymer with silicon

Temperature Tolerance

Moderate, degrades under extreme temperatures
Excellent, resistant to extreme temperatures

Durability in Environment

Sensitive to UV, ozone, oils
Resistant to UV, ozone, chemicals

Common Uses

Tires, seals, shock absorbers
Cookware, medical devices, sealants

Elasticity and Flexibility

Highly elastic and flexible
Flexible, less elastic than rubber

Rubber and Silicone Definitions


Material used for its flexibility and durability.
Rubber boots are essential for walking in the rain.


A synthetic polymer made from silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen.
Silicone bakeware can withstand high oven temperatures.


An elastic material made from latex or synthetically.
The rubber tires provided good traction on the wet road.


A versatile material in cookware, electronics, and sealants.
The silicone sealant prevented leaks in the bathroom.


A natural or synthetic product for shock absorption.
Rubber mats are used in gyms for cushioning.


Used in medical devices due to its non-reactivity.
Silicone tubing is preferred for medical applications.


Substance used in making tires, seals, and hoses.
The rubber seals ensured the container was airtight.


Material known for its heat resistance and stability.
The silicone spatula didn't melt even on the hot pan.


Elastic material sensitive to heat and UV light.
The rubber in the gasket degraded due to sunlight exposure.


Resistant to extreme temperatures and environmental factors.
Silicone insulation is used in high-temperature wiring.


A yellowish, amorphous, elastic material, composed almost entirely of an isoprene polymer, obtained from the milky sap or latex of various tropical plants, especially the rubber tree, and vulcanized, pigmented, finished, and modified into products such as electric insulation, elastic bands and belts, tires, and containers. Also called caoutchouc, India rubber.


Any of a large group of oligomers and polymers based on the structural unit R2SiO, where R is an organic group, characterized by wide-range thermal stability, high lubricity, extreme water repellence, and physiological inertness and used in adhesives, lubricants, protective coatings, paints, electrical insulation, synthetic rubber, and prosthetic replacements for body parts.


(chemistry) Any of a class of inert, semi-inorganic polymeric compounds (polysiloxanes), that have a wide range of thermal stability and extreme water repellence, used in a very wide range of industrial applications, and in prosthetic replacements for body parts.


(transitive) To join or treat (something) with a silicone-based product.
Silicone the bathtub to the tile


To enhance or reconstruct (a body part) with a prosthesis containing silicone.


Any of a large class of siloxanes that are unusually stable over a wide range of temperatures; used in lubricants and adhesives and coatings and synthetic rubber and electrical insulation


Why is silicone preferred in kitchenware?

Due to its heat resistance and non-toxic properties.

Is silicone biodegradable?

No, silicone is not biodegradable but is often recyclable.

What makes rubber ideal for tires?

Its elasticity and durability provide good traction.

Can rubber be used in high-temperature applications?

Not typically, as it degrades under extreme heat.

Is silicone a good electrical insulator?

Yes, it's used in electronics for its insulating properties.

Can silicone be used in medical implants?

Yes, its non-reactivity makes it suitable for implants.

Why is silicone used in sealants?

Its flexibility and durability make it ideal for sealing.

Is silicone safe for cooking?

Yes, food-grade silicone is safe for cooking uses.

Can natural rubber cause allergies?

Yes, some people are allergic to natural rubber latex.

How is synthetic rubber made?

It's produced from petroleum byproducts through polymerization.

What is the main source of natural rubber?

It's extracted from the latex of rubber trees.

Is silicone rubber the same as silicone?

Silicone rubber is a type of silicone with rubber-like properties.

Does rubber maintain its properties in cold temperatures?

It can become brittle in extremely cold conditions.

Can silicone be used in automotive applications?

Yes, especially for gaskets and hoses due to its heat resistance.

How is rubber recycled?

It can be ground down and reused in various applications.

Does rubber resist chemicals well?

It can degrade with exposure to certain oils and chemicals.

What are the environmental impacts of silicone?

While durable, its non-biodegradability raises environmental concerns.

What are common uses of rubber in households?

Rubber is used in footwear, elastics, and cleaning gloves.

What affects the quality of natural rubber?

Factors like climate, soil, and processing methods.

Can silicone be colored?

Yes, it can be easily colored for different applications.
About Author
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.
Edited 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.

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