Indian Rubber

In descending the Western Ghats of India after a stay in the spice centre of Kumily, we happened across a number of rubber plantations and with interest piqued we asked to stop to investigate further. I’d never seen anything like this and to be honest, never really knew how we ended up with rubber, just that there was a rubber tree. In cutting the bark of the rubber tree, which is typically done once the tree is around 7 years old, a viscous latex sap is syphoned off into a vessel. In order to preserve its quality the latex is sieved and ammonia added. The latex may then be coagulated in suitable containers into thin slabs of coagulum and rolled through a set of smooth rollers followed by a grooved set and dried to obtain sheet rubber.

While there are other methods this is the process that we were talked through by a proud supervisor, as detailed in the gallery below. So nice to see employees taking a real pride in their work.

9 thoughts on “Indian Rubber

    1. only touched a tiny bit of it – Tamil Nadu (Chennai) to the Western Ghats of Kerala and then Kochin. Also been to delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Rikkikesh, Nainital and Jim Corbett’s Tiger Reserve. Plenty more left to see. MM 🍀


  1. I retired from a factory that makes hydraulic and industrial hoses. The “rubber” used in most hoses is compounded from oil, chemicals to enhance cure, colorants, processing aids, carbon black for strength, and other chemicals to enhance characteristics needed for hose used in a specific applications. This is the legacy of WWII, when Japanese advances on Malaya (Malaysia) and Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) cut off supplies of natural rubber.

    There is a need for natural rubber, still, but one I remember from the factory was as a clean out rubber. It would be run through extruders after a run, and the natural rubber, which is very sticky when heated in an extruder screw (the place where compound is softened through heat and pressure to a point it can pass through dies), and collects the remnants of the compound so it doesn’t contaminate the next run.

    That said, the thing I remember most about natural rubber is how it smelled like wet dog butt when processed through the extruder screw! Whew! It’d knock you off your feet until you got used to it. I see in the text above where ammonia is used as a coagulant in processing the sap. That may explain the awful stench I remember.


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