What is Chlorination?
Chlorination is a treatment done on latex garments and bondage gear that results in textural changes to the surface of the latex.* It's a non-reversible process that permanently alters the surface of the latex by creating a glassy barrier over the latex. This results in the latex being less "sticky," and generally not needing as much/any dressing aid.
*the science behind it can be found at the end of this piece.
That sounds amazing?! Why is this even a question?
Not requiring any lube or powder to get into your latex is pretty great, but there are some issues with chlorination that you should know about before getting it done.
1. Extremely smooth finish - best part about chlorinated latex is how smooth the latex finish becomes. You don't need to use any dressing aid (as always though, feel free to lube up as much as you want!). The surface feels almost glassy to the touch. It's lovely.
2. Slightly shinier without polish - even without any shiner, chlorinated latex looks shinier than unchlorinated latex. Reason being...
3. Less likely to oxidize - the chlorination process creates a barrier level on the surface of the latex, which means the latex is less prone to oxidation. Oxidization = dull spots or dusty white spots on the latex.
4. Less likely to stain - that barrier level that chlorination creates? Helps make the latex less prone to staining.
5. No dressing aid needed - even tight-fitting suits don't require dressing aid. It's glorious.
1. Less Stretch - the latex feels glassy to the touch because it basically is... chlorination vulcanizes the surface of the latex and as a result it makes it less stretchy.
2. Easier to tear - less stretchy + not as much/no lube to act as a dressing aid means that it's more likely to catch on finger nails, jewelry, sharp bits and tear.
3. Won't go super high gloss - chlorinated latex that hasn't been shined is a bit glossier than unchlorinated latex... but chlorinated surfaces don't hold silicone oil as well as unchlorinated surfaces. This has to do with surface porosity - to read the science behind it see the bottom of this article.
4. Discoloration - YIKES! This is one of the biggest problems with chlorination... it can discolor lighter latex, making them a little more yellow/brown. Some colors are worse than others. We'll be uploading a chlorination color-chart toward the end of the summer. Dark colors aren't affected in any major way. The latex around any zipper hardware also will discolour on light and translucent latex as the chlorination process strips the coating off the metal findings. There is nothing that we can do about this unfortunately.
5. Harder to repair - biggest problem with chlorinated latex? Easier to tear, harder to repair. That same surface modification that makes the latex so smooth prevents it from adhering to itself. In order to repair chlorinated latex you need to sand down some of the surface so you can glue to it. That extra bit of labor can become unwieldy and pricey on large tears. Not all manufacturers will repair chlorinated latex. We will repair chlorinated latex on a case by case basis. Contact us for more details.
Chlorination is great if you want something loose-fitting like bedding, gowns, jackets or trousers. If you're getting a catsuit for a playsuit it's also really great! However, if you're planning a cosplay, fursuit or something with light colors/color blocking you really need to weigh the pros and cons. Chlorination can be done at any time once the piece is completed... so you can always hold off on chlorinating something, but once it's done there's no going back!
Alright my darling nerds, let's get into this...
Latex molecules are long polymer chains with branches all over them... picture hairy legs; the skin is the long polymer chain with the hair being the branches coming off the chain. The surface of latex is sticky because of these branches interacting with branches from nearby molecules. (Picture hair so dense it's getting tangled in itself.) It's these hairs/branches that allow glue to adhere to the surface, and silicone to build up giving us that super high-gloss look.
Chlorination causes a reaction on the very top layer of molecules that gets rid of those chains. Kind of like shaving off all that hair. The surface becomes smoother, but it doesn't want to hold as much silicone oil or glue. On a molecular level, what's happening is double bonds are breaking to cause the chains to interlink to each other, reducing the number of "free" branches. Think of these double bonds as tightly coiled springs... when they break down the latex becomes less stretchy right at the surface but the reduction of free branches causes the latex to become much smoother. Hence the glassy smooth feel of chlorinated latex.
For even more technical information about latex, Simon-O has a great read on their site.