Rubber is an elastic material. Natural rubber is obtained from the latex sap of certain trees, which is vulcanized and finished into a variety of products. There are also various synthetic elastic materials which have similar properties and which are also called rubber.
The most notable properties of rubber are:
- high elasticity - can be deformed but will return with force to its original shape when let go
- can be processed into any shape and comes in many different types of elasticity/hardness
- comparatively high weight (heavier than wood, heavier than flesh)
- waterproof, can be used for sealing
- very high surface friction
When it ages, rubber becomes brittle and loses its elasticity. The same happens at low temperatures. Processed natural rubber is typically red, orange, brown, or black. Synthetic rubber can be any color, such as white, yellow, red, green, blue, black.
Today Asia is the main source of natural rubber, accounting for around 94% of output in 2005. The three largest producing countries (Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand) together accounts for around 72% of all natural rubber production.
The use of rubber is wide spread, ranging from household to industrial products, entering the production stream at the intermediate stage or as final products. Tires and tubes are the largest consumers of rubber, accounting for around 56% total consumption in 2005. Other significant users of rubber are hoses, belts and dampners for the automobile industry in what is known as the "under the bonnet" products. Gloves (medical, household and industrial) are also large consumers of rubber, although the type of rubber used is that of the concentrated latex. Significant tonnage of rubber is used as adhesives in many manufacturing industries and products, although the two most noticeable are the paper and the carpet industry.
Rubber is also used for spanking implements, for example in whips with rubber lashes, paddles, hoses, rubber-coated handles, rubber-coated canes or riding crops. Rubber coating gives these implements additional weight and thus makes them more painful. Household items such as doughscrapers fall under the category of rubber implements as well.
Rubber and sexuality
Due to their special elastic properties, rubber and rubber-like products are popular for various purposes in connection with human sexuality. Condoms are made of latex or polyurethane; "rubber" is a slang term for condom. Also, many sex toys such as vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, etc. are made of rubber-like materials such as silicone.
Various items used in medical fetishism are made of rubber (e.g. enema bags and pipes, rubber gloves, rubber aprons, rubber bedsheets). There are also rubber fetishists, often members of the BDSM scene, who love wearing clothes made of rubber (or latex), sometimes including rubber masks for the head, or who love it when their partner (e.g. a dominant) wears rubber. Commercially, the color black is most popular for these items of clothing, followed by red.
The first practical application of the substance in Europe was when Edward Naime, an English engineer, discovered in 1770 that it was perfect to erase pencil marks from paper. This is what gave the substance its English name (from the rubbing motion).
"Rubber" (in British English, also "India rubber") is an altervative word for eraser.
- "I wish people would take better care of their sewing machine straps", M/m spanking cartoon
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