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Author Topic: Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?  (Read 23875 times)

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« on: 20/03/2011 18:30:28 »
As a sheepy I of course luff to collect rubber bands. Rubber bands (only the red ones mind)..are all I think about !

Yep, barely a moment goes by when I don't think of rubber bands !

Look...here's some !




Some Rubber Bands (Only Red Ones's mind !)

Nice eh ?


So, ewe can imagine my distress when one of my rubber bands looked a bit worse for wear !...it's kind of dry and shrivelled !!

I am grieving here !

What has happened to the band ?....is there moisture inside that has evaporated ?


Is there a way to prevent my bands from not wilting ?


Oh woe is me !



Hugs and shmishes



mwah mwah mwah



Neil
I'll collect the bands through joy and dread
But only if they are rubber red

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
« Last Edit: 20/03/2011 18:32:00 by neilep »


 

Offline Geezer

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #1 on: 20/03/2011 22:15:05 »
I think it's because the rubber oxidises, so, if you have one of those thingys that vacuum packs food, you could stick them in a baggy and suck all the air out.

Or, you could try "canning" them, although the boiling water might do them in a bit too.

Or, you could stick them in a baggy and fill it with nitrogen then seal it.

I've no idea if any of these will actually work!

 

Offline SeanB

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #2 on: 21/03/2011 16:11:09 »
Baby powder works as well, and after dusting them thoroughly keep in a sealed container so that they do not degrade further from exposure to oxygen and light.
 

Offline RD

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #3 on: 21/03/2011 18:22:15 »
The red ones dropped by postman Pat don't degrade fast enough for Daffy Duck and Sonic the Hedgehog ...

Quote
There are concerns that the bands are bad for birds, with reports that ducks are mistaking them for worms.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk


http://www.thehedgehog.co.uk/rubberband.htm


 

Offline walthertph

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #4 on: 21/03/2011 18:41:57 »
I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure rubber bands (and all rubber for that matter) degrades because the elastomers and plastomers evaporate or otherwise leave the rubber. Is there an expert in the house? Does this amount to the same thing as oxidation? or do both processes contribute to the brittle rubber?
 

Offline chris

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #5 on: 21/03/2011 19:41:00 »
I think that's the right answer: over time the plasticisers - chemicals added to make the polymer chains slip past one another more easily and hence make the band more stretchy - evaporate; this makes the material more brittle and liable to snap.

Chris
 

Offline Geezer

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #6 on: 21/03/2011 20:32:19 »
I'm no expert either, but I think it's mainly oxidation that causes the rubber to perish, assuming the bands are made mainly from natural rubber. I'm not sure whether the rubber is simply cured, or if it's vulcanized. If it's vulcanized, it will be a lot more resistant to oxidation and exposure to UV light. I think ozone can be particularly harmful.
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #7 on: 21/03/2011 20:37:13 »
I think it's because the rubber oxidises, so, if you have one of those thingys that vacuum packs food, you could stick them in a baggy and suck all the air out.

Or, you could try "canning" them, although the boiling water might do them in a bit too.

Or, you could stick them in a baggy and fill it with nitrogen then seal it.

I've no idea if any of these will actually work!



Canned rubber bands !!....for all those long-life rubber band needs !
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #8 on: 21/03/2011 20:38:15 »
Baby powder works as well, and after dusting them thoroughly keep in a sealed container so that they do not degrade further from exposure to oxygen and light.

Thanks Sean....do ewe know this from experience ?  :)
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #9 on: 21/03/2011 20:41:20 »
The red ones dropped by postman Pat don't degrade fast enough for Daffy Duck and Sonic the Hedgehog ...

Quote
There are concerns that the bands are bad for birds, with reports that ducks are mistaking them for worms.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk


http://www.thehedgehog.co.uk/rubberband.htm




Thank ewe RD....this is in fact a mission of mine. I know that there was instruction to the mail people to not throw them away but I still see them all over the place....I have undertaken to collect them over a set period of time and then go to the press !
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #10 on: 21/03/2011 20:42:57 »
I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure rubber bands (and all rubber for that matter) degrades because the elastomers and plastomers evaporate or otherwise leave the rubber. Is there an expert in the house? Does this amount to the same thing as oxidation? or do both processes contribute to the brittle rubber?

Thank ewe walthertph....evaporation eh ?..that was my first guess but I did not know what exactly was evaporating !
 

Offline Geezer

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #11 on: 21/03/2011 21:06:34 »
Here we go -

"Uncured natural rubber will begin to deteriorate within a few days, gradually breaking down into a wet crumbly mess. The process of perishing partly consists of proteins being broken down (much as milk proteins do) and also of the large rubber molecules breaking up as they oxidize in the air due to oxygen molecules attacking the double bonds.

Rubber that has been inadequately vulcanized also may perish, but more slowly. The process of perishing is encouraged by long exposure to sunlight, and especially to ultraviolet radiation."

From http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Rubber#Reason_for_vulcanizing

BTW - As I learned from personal experience, just remember not to ask your department admin if she has any rubbers when you show up for work in the US.
« Last Edit: 21/03/2011 21:13:55 by Geezer »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #12 on: 21/03/2011 22:10:30 »
Natural rubber doesn't usually contain much plasticiser; it doesn't need one. There's not a lot of protein either ( though there's sometimes enough to cause allergies)
However the rubber is susceptible to damage due to ozone (always present in traces in the air). It attacks the double bonds in the molecule.Keeping them in nitrogen, or even in a sealed bag would help reduce the rate of degradation.
Other oxidants and sunlight also degrade it. That's part of the reason why rubber tires are generally black. They add carbon to block UV damage.
 

Offline RD

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #13 on: 22/03/2011 03:16:17 »
I have undertaken to collect them over a set period of time and then go to the press !

If you are serious about going to the press bear in mind that could result in you coming across as an eccentric “neat freak”, maybe use just your initials (or a humorous pen name) if you contact the press about your “collection”.
NB: If you p-off postal workers, letters for your address may end up being delivered to the dump, or worse  :) .   

There may be a scientific solution, the bands only became an issue when they were dyed red.
Either the colour is making them more conspicuous or it is enabling them to survive longer in the wild.

Plastic ropes have dye added to slow their degradation by UV light. Maybe they have accidentally done something similar to the rubber bands by colouring them: causing them to persist for longer on the streets than their natural beige predecessors. 

Perhaps the life span of natural and coloured rubber bands could be studied ?

Maybe even devise a way of exaggerating their UV susceptibility so the feral bands disintegrate quickly, but those which remain within the postal system keep intact for a reasonable period. Or perhaps, given the UK climate, bands which dissolve when wet.

(where do I apply for a grant ? :) ).
« Last Edit: 22/03/2011 06:18:51 by RD »
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #14 on: 22/03/2011 11:19:51 »
Here we go -

"Uncured natural rubber will begin to deteriorate within a few days, gradually breaking down into a wet crumbly mess. The process of perishing partly consists of proteins being broken down (much as milk proteins do) and also of the large rubber molecules breaking up as they oxidize in the air due to oxygen molecules attacking the double bonds.

Rubber that has been inadequately vulcanized also may perish, but more slowly. The process of perishing is encouraged by long exposure to sunlight, and especially to ultraviolet radiation."

From http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Rubber#Reason_for_vulcanizing

BTW - As I learned from personal experience, just remember not to ask your department admin if she has any rubbers when you show up for work in the US.

Thank ewe Geezer, That's very interesting....I of course do not need to ask female work comrades in the US if they have rubbers as I proudly display mine where ever I go !  (ususally to court)
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #15 on: 22/03/2011 11:23:11 »
Natural rubber doesn't usually contain much plasticiser; it doesn't need one. There's not a lot of protein either ( though there's sometimes enough to cause allergies)
However the rubber is susceptible to damage due to ozone (always present in traces in the air). It attacks the double bonds in the molecule.Keeping them in nitrogen, or even in a sealed bag would help reduce the rate of degradation.
Other oxidants and sunlight also degrade it. That's part of the reason why rubber tires are generally black. They add carbon to block UV damage.

Thanks BC...that's very interseting about the UV. They are kept in a large bag as you have seen and are kept away from light..though they are not 'seale '. I imagine I could then also use sun cream to assist !  ;)
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #16 on: 22/03/2011 11:31:32 »
I have undertaken to collect them over a set period of time and then go to the press !

If you are serious about going to the press bear in mind that could result in you coming across as an eccentric “neat freak”, maybe use just your initials (or a humorous pen name) if you contact the press about your “collection”.
NB: If you p-off postal workers, letters for your address may end up being delivered to the dump, or worse  :) .   

There may be a scientific solution, the bands only became an issue when they were dyed red.
Either the colour is making them more conspicuous or it is enabling them to survive longer in the wild.

Plastic ropes have dye added to slow their degradation by UV light. Maybe they have accidentally done something similar to the rubber bands by colouring them: causing them to persist for longer on the streets than their natural beige predecessors. 

Perhaps the life span of natural and coloured rubber bands could be studied ?

Maybe even devise a way of exaggerating their UV susceptibility so the feral bands disintegrate quickly, but those which remain within the postal system keep intact for a reasonable period. Or perhaps, given the UK climate, bands which dissolve when wet.

(where do I apply for a grant ? :) ).

 ;D Thanks RD...I'd like to think that I'm not that far gone !   I quite happily walk by red bands and do not pick them up though I do mourn the broken ones !  ;)


What I have collected is the result of predominantly just one walking route from my house to the train station and then back again....it is actually quite astonishing how many I have collected in just a couple of years. Additionally, the kids bring me a few too. I'll have to weigh them or something...there's far too many to count !

Hmmm...I will have to act incognito...I don't want Postie going postal !

My wifey will attest to my not being a neat freak !
 

Offline RD

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #17 on: 22/03/2011 16:13:33 »
Being photograhed next to a large quantity of rubber bands one has collected is not a good look ...



There’s enough rubber there to create a lining for his cell:)


« Last Edit: 22/03/2011 19:01:37 by RD »
 

Offline imatfaal

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #18 on: 22/03/2011 16:40:51 »
Being photograhed next to a large quantity of rubber bands one has collected is not a good look ...snippped

I would just be too tempted to kick away the chock that's stopping the ball rolling off down the street
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #19 on: 22/03/2011 18:55:53 »
Being photograhed next to a large quantity of rubber bands one has collected is not a good look ...



There’s enough rubber there to create a lining for his cell:)








Only in Americaland do ewe get rubber bands that thick !
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #20 on: 22/03/2011 18:57:04 »
Being photograhed next to a large quantity of rubber bands one has collected is not a good look ...snippped

I would just be too tempted to kick away the chock that's stopping the ball rolling off down the street

Agreed !..great to see it bouncing all over the place (without causing any harm of course !)
 

Offline Geezer

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #21 on: 22/03/2011 19:14:09 »
To preserve them, you could try sealing them in an airtight plastic bag along with a little water, and some iron or steel filings. As the iron rusts, it should remove most of the free oxygen from inside the container.

Of course, evey time you open the bag, you'll let more oxygen in.
 

Offline neilep

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #22 on: 22/03/2011 19:48:28 »
To preserve them, you could try sealing them in an airtight plastic bag along with a little water, and some iron or steel filings. As the iron rusts, it should remove most of the free oxygen from inside the container.

Of course, evey time you open the bag, you'll let more oxygen in.

Thanks again geezer for this great tip....I was also considering dipping each one individually in acrylic...I mean ...there's only about ten thousand of em'!.....and then I thought...why not go down the amber route ?...Fossilized tree resin only takes about a zillion years !......I have an egg timer !
 

Offline Geezer

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
« Reply #23 on: 23/03/2011 07:34:05 »
Maybe we should file a patent for nonperishable rubberbands that are impregnated with iron nanoparticles?
« Last Edit: 23/03/2011 07:37:08 by Geezer »
 

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Why Do Rubber Bands Degrade ?
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