Rubber is found in the sap of a special tree. Rubber can be used to make rubber for erasing, for raincoats and rubber boots, for car tires, and much more. The name rubber comes from an Indian language: “Cao” means tree, “Ochu” means tear.
The rubber tree originally comes from the Amazon region in South America. He reaches a medium height. Under the bark, it has milk tubes that carry sap from the roots to the leaves. This juice is two-thirds water and one-third rubber.
The Indians had already discovered that you can cut half of the trunk with an oblique cut and hang a small container on the tree, and the sap will drip into it. If you don’t cut the other side of the tree, the tree can live on.
The milky juice is also called “natural rubber” or “latex”. If you thicken the juice, you can use it to coat a piece of cloth or leather. This makes it waterproof.
What can you make from rubber?
The rubber tree only spread long after the discovery of America. Today it is found in plantations around the world, but only in a hot strip on either side of the equator. Before that, only beeswax was known to make fabric reasonably waterproof. It was much better with rubber.
In 1839, American Charles Goodyear succeeded in making rubber from natural rubber. The process is called vulcanization. Rubber is much more resilient than natural rubber. You can also leave it softer or make it harder. It is also suitable for car tires, for example.
In 1900, the Russian Ivan Kondakov succeeded in artificially producing rubber. You could also make rubber out of it. Today, about a third of rubber comes from nature, two thirds are manufactured artificially, mostly from petroleum.
Today, more than half of the rubber is used in the manufacture of car tires. One of the biggest brands today is still named after its inventor and is called Goodyear. Soot from the chimney is added to the rubber during production. This makes the tires durable and also gives them a black color. A smaller part is needed for rubber boots, shoe soles, special protective clothing, rubber bands, erasers, gloves, condoms, and much more.