Understanding Rubber Bloom
What is Rubber Bloom?
Rubber Bloom is a common, superficial phenomenon that does not affect the functionality of rubber or its ability to seal. Bloom refers to formation of a dust or film on the surface of rubber compounds. The particulates that create bloom are recrystallized rubber compounds that are insoluble or unable to stay within the rubber as the material cools down to room temperature after vulcanization. Many rubber compounding materials have limited compatibility with the elastomer in use, which is why bloom is a common occurrence.
Bloom can be either solid or liquid compounding materials. These compounds migrate to the surface of the rubber component and appear as Rubber Bloom. Bloom includes both dry bloom and wet bloom, which is also known as exudation, bleeding, or oily bloom.
While it may cause the rubber to look dirty or unattractive, Rubber Bloom is common and is not considered defective as it does not inhibit proper function of the rubber. In some cases, bloom can be used intentionally to help protect the component as a modified bloom.
Simple Questions to Identify Bloom
Concerned that your rubber is experiencing something other than rubber blooming? Answer the questions below for quick identification.
- Did the particulates develop during storage or shipping?
- Does it disappear when heated?
- Can it be removed with a solvent wipe?
- You may need to try several solvents to find the right one
If the answer to each of these questions is Yes, you’re most likely experiencing harmless Rubber Bloom on your product. This is not unusual, and your rubber parts should perform as expected. While Rubber Bloom may not be aesthetically pleasing, most rubber components are used in sealing applications where the component is hidden.
- What if the rubber had surface particulates before storage and shipping?
- You may have surface contamination or organic haze on your product.
- Your rubber components are still in-tact and functional. This haze is strictly cosmetic in nature and can be cleaned off components if appearance is critical.
- What if heating doesn’t affect the particulate?
- You might have oxidized anti-degradant left on the rubber, a material used to prevent aging of your rubber. A basic zinc stearate or soap was left on your parts.
- Both the leftover protective material or cleaning agents are natural occurrences for rubber products and are no cause for concern
- What if multiple solvents won’t remove the film off the rubber?
- If you’ve tried several solvents, try a complex agent to clean your parts. If that doesn’t work, you may have haze due to organics.
- Again, this is a cosmetic issue and should not impact user acceptance, especially as many rubber components are used internally.