Natural rubber is made by vulcanizing latex mixed with sulphur. Commonly, the resulting natural rubber is dull instead of shiny. However, there are also products made out of natural rubber that are shiny, such as the wellington boots in the picture below.

My question is:

In addition to vulcanization, what additional step is done in production to make this rubber shiny? What chemical process is at play?

Possible ideas

  1. As the picture shows boots which are shiny, my first thought was that it might just be polish. However, it appears to me that this is wrong, because a polish is a hydrophobe wax or cream that has to be applied regularly to keep shoes waterproof and shiny. To the boots shown below no cream or wax needs to be applied to maintain the shine and there is no cream rubbing off. So I would assume that there is something else going on.

  2. In semiconductor manufacturing, silicon can be polished by applying chemicals. Maybe this could also be used for rubber? If so, what chemicals could be used to create the shiny finishing of the boots pictured below?


Originally, I posed this question to my chemistry teacher, but she couldn't provide me with an answer. So I would be very happy if anyone of you could help me!

Any hint would be welcome! Thank you very much for your time!

Shiny rubber

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This is called polishing. It has nothing to do with chemistry. $\endgroup$ Sep 5, 2021 at 22:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Sep 5, 2021 at 23:15
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your feedback! I've edited my question to make it more understandable. $\endgroup$
    – bivox
    Sep 6, 2021 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ Permanent shiny surface can be achieved also by simultaneous application of high temperature and sufficient pressure of shiny surface of mold(cast, form). Future rubber matter is originally liquid and later plastic, before finally gets elastic. // It may be also possible the form surface has applied polishing agent, which is by pressure incorporated into surface layer of rubber, so it does not go away easily. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Sep 6, 2021 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Poutnik Thank you for your answer! Two follow-ups: 1. When using high temperature and sufficient pressure, do these conditions need to persists during vulcanization, or is the surface ‘cured’ to a shiny finishing that persist without temperature/pressure such that the material can be vulcanized later? 2. What kind of polishing agent is used for incorporation into the surface layer of rubber? $\endgroup$
    – bivox
    Sep 9, 2021 at 19:10


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.