Difference Between Nitrile and Latex

Key Difference – Nitrile vs Latex

Latex and nitrile latex are polymeric dispersions that have a wide range of applications. The term ‘latex’ is used to define a broad range of latices, which includes both natural and synthetic latices whereas the term ‘nitrile’ is used for NBR (acrylonitrile butadiene rubber) latex. This is the key difference between nitrile and latex. Usually, both forms exist as a liquid in nature and can be processed to obtain polymeric solid materials.

What is Nitrile?

Nitrile is the common name for NBR latex, which made up of copolymers of acrylonitrile and butadiene. Nitrile latex is produced by a process called emulsion polymerization. The production is either a batch or continuous process. The latex form of nitrile is actually a terpolymer of acrylonitrile, butadiene, and methacrylic acid and often referred to as carboxylated NBR lattices. Nitrile latex has a high butadiene content which represents 55-70%, while the acrylonitrile and methacrylic contents are 25-50% and 3-6% respectively.

Properties and Applications of Nitrile

Nitrile rubber shows excellent resistant to solvents, oils, greases, and fuels. Moreover, it possesses good abrasion resistant, a high degree of toughness and bonds to various types of substrates. Nitrile rubber is mainly used as a main raw material for disposable latex gloves and a textile and non-woven reinforcement. It is also used to produce synthetic leather, adhesives (by blending with phenolic and epoxy resin emulsions), coatings, sealants, and as an additive for coal tar and asphalt. Because of its wide application range, nitrile rubber has become one of the main competitors of natural rubber latex.

Key Difference - Nitrile vs Latex

NBR latex chemical structure

What is Latex?

Latex is a colloidal dispersion, which mainly contains polymeric particles with a few hundred nanometers in diameter and water. Water is the dispersion medium of polymeric substances. Colloid fraction usually comprises about 50% by weight of the dispersion. There are two types of latex, namely; natural and synthetic latex. The most common natural latex is the natural rubber latex, which is collected from a tree called Hevea brasiliensis. Most of the main ingredients of synthetic latices are obtained as byproducts of petroleum products. Some examples for synthetic latices include nitrile latex, polychloroprene latex, styrene-butadiene rubber latex, acrylic latex, butyl latex, chlorosulfonated polyethylene latex, etc.

Applications of Latex

Owing to unique properties of these latices, they are used for many applications. Typical applications for latex include paints and coatings, adhesives, sealants, asphalt modifications, packaging items (manufacture of bags, envelopes, tubes, etc.), textile and nonwovens, furniture (manufacture of foam pillows, foam mattresses, etc.), consumer products, paper and miscellaneous applications (gloves, vehicle inks, etc.).

Difference Between Nitrile and Latex

Natural rubber latex

What is the difference between Nitrile and Latex?


Latex is a broad term used for polymeric colloidal dispersions.

Nitrile is a common name for acrylonitrile butadiene rubber latex.


Latex mainly comprises of polymeric colloids (about 50%) and water or any other solvent as the dispersion medium.

Nitrile latex comprises of butadiene (55-70%), acrylonitrile (25-50%) and methacrylic (3-6%).


Latex has a wide range of applications in the field of manufacturing of paints and coatings, construction materials, packaging materials, textiles and nonwovens, furniture, consumer products, paper materials and miscellaneous products.

Nitrile latex is mainly used for manufacturing of disposable latex gloves, textile and non-woven reinforcement, synthetic leather, adhesives (by blending with phenolic and epoxy resin emulsions), coatings, sealants, and additive for coal tar and asphalt.

Latex 2004: The 3rd Two-day Conference on Synthetic Emulsions, Natural Latex and Latex Based Products: Hamburg, Germany, 20-21 April 2004. Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Rapra Technology, 2004. Print.
Latex 2001: First International Liquid Elastomers Conference: Munich, Germany, 3-4 December 2001. Shawbury, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Rapra Technology, 2001. Print.
Skeist, Irving. Handbook of Adhesives. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977. Print.
Image Courtesy: 
“Nitrile Butadiene Rubber” By Klever – Own work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 
“Rubber tree up (2657925156)” By Faisal Akram from Dhaka, Bangladesh – rubber tree up (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia