What is rubber made out of?


Natural rubber is made from the sap of a tree, and synthetic rubber is created from chemicals found in petroleum. Rubber trees first originated in South America, and the sap is called latex. The latex oozes from the bark of the rubber tree and can be easily collected to form balls or other objects.

A French explorer named Charles de la Condamine was the first to take latex from Peru and bring it home in 1735. In 1770, a chemist discovered that the latex "rubbed" out pencil marks, and the material was appropriately named rubber. In the 1820s, Thomas Hancock developed a machine that molded scraps of latex into a solid mass. From there, rubber processing developed, and it began to be used to make different products. Scientists discovered that latex could be added to turpentine to create a liquid that waterproofs fabric. In 1832, Charles Macintosh created the first raincoats by layering rubber between two pieces of cloth. Soon after, rubber shoes, elastic bands, hoses and tubes were made. However, it was discovered that these products got stiff in cold weather and sticky in hot weather. When Charles Goodyear developed a way to strengthen rubber and make it less vulnerable to heat and cold, the possibilities of products increased, and rubber became a common material in parts of moving machinery.

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