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What are Nitrile Gloves Made Of?

Fact checked by Andrew Carnegie

Are you the type of person who needs to wear latex rubber gloves for work but you simply cannot because you have an allergic reaction to latex? If your answer is yes then you tend to just go bare-handed when working. The problem is that it can be very dangerous, especially when you need to handle caustic chemicals.

What are Nitrile Gloves Made Of

Even if you are being cautious, it only takes one stroke of bad luck for you to get seriously injured. It is better to play it safe and just use nitrile gloves instead. However, you have to know what nitrile gloves are made of so you will have an idea about its construction.

Nitrile Gloves Construction

Nitrile gloves are those that are made of synthetic rubber materials. Because they are completely synthetic, they do not contain any latex or latex proteins that cause allergic reactions to people who have sensitivities to them.  This makes them more popular than the older and more established rubber gloves just because they are hypoallergenic.

Furthermore, nitrile gloves are stronger and more puncture-resistant and rip-resistant, making them the more popular choice in hazardous workplaces, like in hospital operating rooms and clinics in general.

Unlike traditional disposable gloves, nitrile gloves have very little resistance to friction, which makes them very easy to put on. Users can pour a bit of cornstarch or talcum powder to make them even easier to slip onto their hands.

Nitrile gloves also come in several different sizes, ranging from extra small to extra-large. They can also come in various colors, textures, lengths, and thickness depending on the job.

How is Nitrile Made?

Nitrile is the shortened version of Nitrile Butadiene Rubber (NBR). Even though some refer to it as NBR latex, it does not contain any amount of rubber latex (or even latex proteins). Nitrile is not a natural form of rubber. It is a synthetic one, formed by combining acrylonitrile and butadiene, those monomers in a large stainless steel vat.

Using either hot or cold polymerization, a chemical reaction between the two materials will occur and after a while, nitrile will result. The resulting nitrile is then filtered to remove the impurities and then it will be mixed with an antioxidant to stabilize the material.

After that, the liquid nitrile will be solidified to a preferred texture by adding some coagulating agents. The next thing that happens is that it is washed and allowed to dry. The resulting nitrile material is called “crumb rubber” because of its sandy texture.

The crumb rubber is provided to the manufacturers, who will then liquefy the material so they can be molded into different products. Some of the products made using nitrile rubber are disposable gloves, floor mats, flip-flops, and rubber adhesives.

Tips in Choosing the Right Nitrile Gloves

When you are out shopping for a new box or two, consider the amount of protection the user will need, the quality of the gloves, and whether the user has allergies to the materials contained within the glove.

Keep in mind that although nitrile gloves are quite popular, they are not the best choice for all purposes. For instance, latex gloves allow for more free movement while nitrile gloves cannot offer the same amount of dexterity.

During the manufacturing process of nitrile, latex, and vinyl gloves, standard measurements are applied to them. These measurements are used to rate the protective qualities that gloves have and these grades range from 1 to 3.

When a glove receives a medical-grade rating, it means that it has the highest protection rating of all. These gloves are then rigorously tested to see if they pass the requirements of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The next grade below medical grade is the high-risk category. These are the kinds of gloves used by first-responders. Most police officers have a bunch of these in case they need to respond to a medical emergency and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) always have boxes of these in their ambulance.

Before these gloves are permitted for use in the medical field, they first need to undergo intrinsic tests to make sure that they have at least the minimum requirements for use in high-risk conditions.

The last level is the utility grade gloves. These are not intended for use in the medical field nor are they tested for FDA requirements. These gloves are often used in jobs that require hand protection, like mechanics, painters and others who risk staining their fingers with chemicals and paints.

Why Use Nitrile Instead of Latex?

Latex is slowly but surely getting ousted by nitrile and for good reason. Although there are instances where latex has the upper hand, it never stays that way because continuous research and development on nitrile oftentimes will overtake latex after a while.

To give you more reasons to go switch from latex to the more convenient-to-use nitrile, here are some of the ways that it is much better:

Nitrile is a lot stronger than latex – It is even three times more resistant to puncturing. Many medical professionals rely on the strength and durability of nitrile gloves, and this is especially more important when the person using the gloves is exposed to blood-borne pathogens and diseases and when other environmental contaminants are areas of concern.

This is the reason why nitrile gloves are preferred by EMTs, medical professionals, and laboratory workers.

Nitrile is less likely to cause contaminations – Nitrile gloves are powder-free, so if you are working on a project that is particularly sensitive to contamination, like if you are working with resins, epoxies, or anything similar, then this is perfect. This is the reason why nitrile gloves are the gloves of choice by tattoo artists, dentists, and beauticians.

Nitrile gloves have greater resistance against chemicals – Aside from being physically stronger than latex, nitrile gloves are also more resistant to the adverse effects of chemicals, acids, oils, and other substances. Nitrile is highly recommended for use by people working with 67% of chemicals, which is 28% more compared to rubber and vinyl.

You can wear nitrile gloves under your work gloves – If you do not want to get your hands wet while you are working on the plumbing, you can wear a pair or two of nitrile gloves underneath your work gloves to make it waterproof. The work gloves will prevent the nitrile gloves from ripping.

Furthermore, the nitrile glove will prevent the water from touching your hands. This will prevent your hands from getting waterlogged and blistered even if you have to submerge your hands under the water.

Nitrile gloves are completely devoid of latex – Aside from being superior in performance in different types of work application and industries, nitrile disposable gloves are also popular alternatives to latex in many different professions. It is because it does not trigger latex allergies in people with sensitivities.

Nitrile gloves are cheaper – The last reason why you should stop using latex gloves is because of something to do with the price. Because latex gloves are made using natural rubber, the price of latex will fluctuate accordingly when there comes a certain natural disaster that hits the rubber tree plantation or if it gets contaminated with disease.

The price of latex will fluctuate accordingly. This also means that the prices of the products made from it will increase, too. Nitrile products are less volatile compared to latex mainly because it is a mostly man-made product, and because production techniques are getting better, the price of nitrile is much less likely to fluctuate in response.

Furthermore, you can buy nitrile gloves cheaper in bulk. Another benefit is that you can store them for a long time. You can just buy a whole year’s worth of nitrile gloves in one go.

Nitrile gloves have a longer shelf life – You can store more nitrile gloves at home without worrying about them getting brittle after a while. Latex gloves need to be used within a couple of months of purchase or else, it will get brittle and rip apart.

Nitrile gloves have a shelf life that is a whole lot longer than that of latex and vinyl, so you can buy them in bulk to save a lot of money then stow them away in your home.

Nitrile gloves have a lot of applications – Because nitrile gloves have advantages over both vinyl and latex gloves, you can use them in anything that requires the use of both vinyl and latex gloves. Essentially, you can just replace all of the gloves in your home with nitrile.

Nitrile gloves conform to the user’s hands – If you wear the nitrile gloves longer, your body heat will make the material conform to the shape of your hands, making them fit more comfortably. Nitrile gloves, though not as elastic as latex, are more elastic compared to vinyl.

This makes them the perfect gloves to use in several different industries like automotive, manufacturing, custodial and sanitation services, chemical industries and more.


Nitrile gloves might not have been around as long as latex and vinyl gloves are but they have quickly overtaken them in popularity and utility. If you haven’t yet, you need to give them a try, especially after learning what nitrile gloves are made of.

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