If you grew up in a Southeast Asian country, you’d probably have seen pictures of rubber trees being tapped for latex in your school textbooks. While most of us know a little bit about how natural rubber is obtained, did you know that synthetic rubber is also a viable alternative for many products? Both natural rubber and synthetic rubber are a big part of our lives as they’re used to make numerous everyday items. However, is natural rubber better than synthetic rubber? Or does synthetic rubber have more advantages than natural rubber? And which one should we pick when it comes to shoes for children? We cover all these questions in this article.
What is natural rubber?
Natural rubber usually comes from the Para rubber tree or the Hevea brasiliensis. Although this tree is native to Brazil, it is also cultivated in many Asian countries, including India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Other sources of natural rubber include the rubber fig, the Panama rubber tree and even the dandelion. However, the Hevea brasiliensis is most popular for natural rubber for commercial use. Natural rubber is an elastomer. This means that it is elastic and can recover to its original form after stretching. It is used in many industries, including the footwear and automotive industries. Creating natural rubber involves extracting latex, a substance produced by rubber trees. Latex is eco-friendly because it is recyclable, and trees do not have to be cut down to get latex.
What is synthetic rubber?
Synthetic rubber is produced artificially via the process of polymerisation of monomers into polymers. There are two ways to accomplish this - emulsion polymerisation or solution polymerisation. Because the polymers are produced artificially, synthetic rubber has various properties and, thus, many applications. In fact, we use things made from synthetic rubber every day, such as rubber bands, wetsuits, personal protective equipment (PPE), shoe soles and balloons.
Natural rubber vs synthetic rubber propertiesThe following is a summary of natural and synthetic rubber properties, which depicts their advantages and disadvantages as well.
Natural rubber advantages
- High elasticity
- High tensile strength
- Wear damage resistant (for example, tearing, chipping)
- Insoluble in solvents such as water, acetone, alcohol, diluted acids and alkalis
Natural rubber disadvantages
- Soluble in carbon disulphide, petrol, ether, turpentine and carbon tetrachloride
- Can be damaged by ozone, strong acids, oils, grease and fats
- Not suitable for power transmission systems
- Low-temperature properties
- Not suitable for outdoor applications when exposure to sunlight is a major factor
- Raw material prices are high
Synthetic rubber advantagesThere is a whole range of synthetic rubber varieties, and their properties vary for each. However, generally, synthetic rubber has the following qualities:
- Great durability and longevity
- Resistant to high and low temperatures
- Resistant to ozone
- Resistant to sunlight
- Excellent weathering effect
- Suitable as an electrical insulator
Synthetic rubber disadvantagesWhile there are numerous benefits of using synthetic rubber, general disadvantages include:
- Poor mechanical properties
- Poor tensile strength
- Poor tear strength.
Additionally, because synthetic rubber is a crude oil derivative, it’s not that great for the environment, and its price is usually linked to oil prices.
Which is better for kids’ shoes?
Having said all this, you might be wondering which type of rubber is better for children’s shoes. Both natural and synthetic rubber has their own pros and cons, and both are used to make certain parts of kids’ shoes, such as the outsole.
The truth is, neither type of rubber is better than the other. The application of the type of rubber depends very much on the design of the shoe itself. For example, because natural rubber creates a better grip, it’s much better for baby shoes. Alternately, synthetic rubber is more lightweight and bouncy but less durable, making it a popular choice for lightweight children’s shoes.
If you’re looking for children’s shoes with high-quality outsoles, Two Little Feet is an online children’s shoe shop in Singapore that might just be the thing for you. All our shoes are crafted especially for kids to ensure healthy feet development. Whether natural or synthetic rubber, we use the best quality rubber that is available. Our shoes are durable and lightweight with non-slip outsoles that help your little ones grip the ground and thus, help keep children safe by preventing slips and falls.
Use our smart Size Assistant to find out your child's Two Little Feet shoe size, based on their feet length!
Looking for more options?
For babies just starting to walk, check out this curated Wobbly Steps Collection for first walkers who are still walking with support.
If your child is walking steadily, we have curated a Steady Walking Kids Shoes and Sandals Collection.
Have an active running and jumping child at home? Look no further than our most supportive kids sneakers and children sandals for Active Running young ones!
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