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Nitrile Gloves

What are Nitrile Gloves?

, by AussiePharmaDirect, 6 min reading time

Various industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, food processing, automotive, and laboratories rely on different types of gloves to ensure the safety of their workers. Each industry has unique requirements, and specific types of gloves are selected accordingly. 

Among the many choices available in the market, nitrile gloves have emerged as a popular choice across multiple industries due to their exceptional versatility and reliability. But what are nitrile gloves exactly? In this blog, we will uncover everything you need to know about nitrile and what sets it apart from other glove materials.

What is a nitrile glove?

A nitrile glove is a type of disposable glove made from a synthetic rubber called nitrile. Nitrile is a compound derived from acrylonitrile and butadiene through a process called copolymerization. 

The chemical structure of nitrile gloves is based on the repeating units of acrylonitrile and butadiene. Acrylonitrile is a highly reactive organic compound containing a nitrile group (CN) and is derived from propylene. Butadiene is a conjugated diene hydrocarbon, derived from crude oil refining processes.

What is the difference between nitrile and latex gloves?

The combination of acrylonitrile and butadiene in nitrile gloves creates a unique molecular structure that imparts exceptional resistance to a broad range of chemicals. This resistance, along with their physical strength and flexibility, makes nitrile gloves one of the most preferred choices for workers in industries such as healthcare, laboratories, manufacturing, automotive, and more.

What is the difference between nitrile and latex gloves?

While they share some similarities, they have distinct differences, especially in terms of the materials they are made from that define their strength and durability that make them suitable for different applications.

Latex gloves are made from natural rubber latex derived from the sap of the rubber tree. Latex gloves are softer and more elastic, providing a comfortable fit and good dexterity, however, they are more susceptible to tearing and puncturing compared to the more durable and puncture-resistant nitrile rubber gloves.

What are nitrile gloves used for?

Nitrile gloves are used across various industries due to their exceptional resistance to a wide range of substances and hazardous materials such as:

  • Oils and fats: Lubricants, motor oils, and cooking oils.
  • Solvents: Common ones like acetone, methanol, ethanol, isopropanol, and many others used in laboratory work, manufacturing, and cleaning processes.
  • Chemicals: Acids (e.g., sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid), bases (e.g., sodium hydroxide), and other corrosive substances.
  • Aliphatic hydrocarbons: Gasoline, kerosene, and diesel fuel, commonly found in the automotive industry.
  • Aromatic hydrocarbons: Benzene, toluene, and xylene.
  • Alcohols: Including ethanol, methanol, and isopropanol, which are commonly used as solvents and disinfectants.
  • Animal fats and blood: Used in healthcare settings to resist animal fats and blood, providing a protective barrier for medical professionals during procedures.
  • Many common chemicals: In general, nitrile gloves have broad resistance to a wide range of common chemicals encountered in different industries, laboratories, and medical settings.

It is essential to note that while nitrile gloves offer excellent resistance to many chemicals, it does not mean they are infinitely resistant to all of them. These include:

  • Ketones and aromatic solvents: The gloves may exhibit reduced resistance to these specific chemicals.
  • Acetone: Acetone can weaken nitrile gloves and may cause them to break down, leading to decreased protection.
  • Some strong oxidising agents: Concentrated hydrogen peroxide and the likes.
  • Concentrated acids: Acids that have a high percentage of the acid compound in a solution.
  • Methylene chloride: A solvent commonly used in paint strippers.

Keep in mind that before you use gloves for any kind of work, depending on your industry and specific task, always consult the glove manufacturer's specifications and chemical compatibility charts to ensure the appropriate glove selection for a given chemical exposure.

Why use nitrile gloves?

Some of the key benefits of using nitrile gloves include:

  • Excellent resistance to a wide range of chemicals, oils, solvents, and hazardous substances
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Highly durable and puncture-resistant
  • Suitable for a broad range of applications, including healthcare, laboratory work, food processing, automotive, janitorial services, and more
  • Snug and comfortable fit, allowing users to maintain good tactile sensitivity and dexterity while performing tasks
  • Reliable barrier against bloodborne pathogens and infectious materials
  • Retain their properties and integrity even in extreme temperature conditions
  • Many nitrile gloves are available in powder-free varieties, reducing the risk of respiratory irritation caused by glove powder.
  • Comes with biodegradable options, alternatives to traditional single-use gloves
  • Regulatory compliance to various safety and regulatory standards

How long do nitrile gloves take to biodegrade?

Standard nitrile gloves are made from synthetic rubber (nitrile), which is not easily broken down by natural processes, however, there are biodegradable options of nitrile gloves that have been developed to address environmental concerns. 

Biodegradable nitrile gloves are engineered to break down more rapidly in the environment compared to traditional nitrile gloves, which can take decades to decompose. These eco-friendly alternatives can biodegrade within approximately 5 years under suitable conditions. This significant reduction in decomposition time makes them a more sustainable option.

Where to buy nitrile gloves?

When it comes to buying nitrile gloves, it is generally easy to find them, especially in industries that require personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers. Nitrile gloves (including the biodegradable ones) are widely available through various channels, including specialised safety equipment suppliers, medical supply stores, online retailers such as Aussie Pharma Direct, and even some general retail stores.

It is essential to note that while nitrile gloves are easily accessible for industry use, they are not always commonly found in regular retail stores or intended for typical household use.


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