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Thread: Chlorination How-To: Making Latex Non-Sticky

  1. #1

    Chlorination How-To: Making Latex Non-Sticky

    In an earlier thread ( ) discussion turned to how a process used on the old-time latex rubber dive suits called chlorination made them non-sticky, even slippery, so they could be pulled on with ease instead of sticking to the wearer, and just about everything else, like untreated latex does.

    I said I would try to find out how chlorination is done, and whether it might be possible for the individual tail maker to do it on their own latex tails at home or in a workshop. It seems that it can, with some cautions, here are the results of my investigation.

    Firstly, I thought I would post these videos of a person putting on a chlorinated latex dive suit, including latex "lobster claw" gloves with no talc, water, lubricant, or anything. The clothes just pull right on, including the gloves, which is what impressed me. I was also impressed how an attached dive hood could be pulled right on without even pulling her hair.

    So this manufacturer was chlorinating their product, and the chlorination really works, and should work to make tails so they could just slide right on easy, but was the recipe out there on the net for individual latex crafters to try out?

    It turns out it was, in two flavours: one I decided to call the "scary" technique, and the other I call the "safer" technique. I'll follow up on these in subsequent posts.

  2. #2
    Theory of Chlorination

    Basically the way you chlorinate latex rubber is to expose it for up to 15 minutes to pure chlorine gas (Cl2)

    So why do that? (Warning, science geekiness coming ) Well, the molecules of isoprene in latex that form into rubber are very sticky. That means they want to chemically bond to everything and anything- your skin, itself, your bathing suit, bits of glitter, dirt, etc., which leads to all the issues with donning latex tails and storing them that everyone talks about.

    Chemically, chlorine is one molecule that bonds so avidly to the rubber molecules that most other molecules can't displace it, so if you coat the surface of the latex with it it will stay attached, blocking the latex molecules from binding (sticking) to anything else and creating a smooth, non-sticky surface that doesn't stick to people or things.

    Sounds good. you just expose the latex to chlorine gas and you're done. Except for one thing- chlorine gas is very poisonous!

    Gaseous chlorine is what the German army used to kill thousands of Allied soldiers during the 1st World War. During my research I looked up what chlorine did to people exposed to it, and found this account on Wikipedia ( ):

    'Lance Sergeant Elmer Cotton, described the effects of chlorine gas in 1915. "It produces a flooding of the lungs – it is an equivalent death to drowning only on dry land. The effects are these – a splitting headache and terrific thirst (to drink water is instant death), a knife edge of pain in the lungs and the coughing up of a greenish froth off the stomach and the lungs, ending finally in insensibility and death. The colour of the skin from white turns a greenish black and yellow, the colour protrudes and the eyes assume a glassy stare. It is a fiendish death to die."'


    'One nurse described the death of one soldier who had been in the trenches during a chlorine gas attack. “He was sitting on the bed, fighting for breath, his lips plum coloured. He was a magnificent young Canadian past all hope in the asphyxia of chlorine. I shall never forget the look in his eyes as he turned to me and gasped: I can’t die! Is it possible that nothing can be done for me?” It was a horrible death, but as hard as they tried, doctors were unable to find a way of successfully treating chlorine gas poisoning.'

    So after looking at this, I'm starting to get a little paranoid.

    Of course, even though you use a high concentration of chlorine, most of it is dissolved in the water, and you use it in a sealed container to keep the gas in with the latex, not going into your lungs. The people who published the recipes, though, mostly say you can do it in sealed containers outdoors that you only open for a limited time, and that they've been OK as long as there's good ventilation, i.e. a breeze blowing, or you set up fans. One person in the Czech Republic said, though, that you should only do this wearing a respirator ( NOTE: NSFW link, unless your workplace is a very cool place to be, ) and I now agree with this, as I will describe later.

    A note, the people who have been taking the lead in this technique seem to be the latex fetishist communities (think of Christine Aguillera in 'Not Myself Tonight' or Lady Gaga in 'Bad Romance') and so some of the links below go to sites where you'll some edgy, NSFW stuff is for sale. I'll put NSFW warnings where applicable.

    So, how do you get chlorine gas in a bucket? You take bleach (sodium hypchlorite) and acidify it so that the chlorine leaves the hypochlorite form and becomes molecular Cl2 gas dissolved in water.

    Most people use hydrochloric acid to acidify the bleach, which is what I call the Scary Technique, but I did find one recipe using vinegar to acidify (much safer)

    So here they are:

    Technique 1: The Scary Method

    This recipe was found here: (NSFW) and it's attached as a PDF file below for you to read. Most of the people posting recipes recommended this technique, in much the same form as this, Gordon's was just the best-organized and most readable, it seemed to me.

    His notes about having an escape route, respiratory protection and protection from the acid are interesting.

    So why is this method scary? Because he's recommending getting Muriatic Acid, which is concentrated (10 Molar) hydrochloric acid (HCl) and using small amounts to acidify the bleach. I've used this stuff in the laboratory, and developed a healthy respect for it. It's very powerful stuff.

    Here's what you need to keep in mind if you're going to use concentrated muriatic acid:

    • Muriatic acid will burn holes in you if you get it on your skin, you must wear sturdy rubber gloves to handle it
    • Wear eye protection whenever you use it
    • In humid conditions it will give off an acidic mist that will choke your lungs if you breathe it in. If you see a pale mist rising from it, you should wear a respirator.
    • Dilution of HCL is an exothermic process, always pour the concentrated acid into the water.
    • Never pour the water into the concentrated acid. If you do this because of rapid heat generation local boiling can happen, throwing acidic droplets and acidic steam out of the container.


    Technique 2: The Safer Method

    This method uses vinegar to acidify, and for that reason is a whole lot safer, you pretty much can't hurt yourself using vinegar

    Here's the link to this recipe: http://costumesbycourtney.deviantart...rial-186371213 , and it is also attached as a PDF file below for you to read.

    Oh, and a final note. This process only seems to work for latex rubber. It's not useful for neoprene rubber or silicone rubber.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by AptaMer; 06-25-2013 at 02:15 AM.

  3. #3
    The Results

    The vinegar & bleach technique seemed pretty easy, and everybody has vinegar at home, so I decided to try that. I had a pair of latex protective gloves that usually require talcum powder to put on, so I decided to try this technique on them. I got:

    • a 2.5 litre bucket with a sealing lid
    • Pure bleach, 6% sodium hypochlorite, with no fancy aditives (President's Choice Ultra Bleach brand)
    • Distilled white vinegar
    • a big plastic slotted spoon for stirring (chlorine gas will eat at metal, so you need a plastic spoon)
    • latex dishwashing gloves to protect my hands
    • face mask-style respirator with protective cartridges, from laboratory (I happen to have access to one of these things, you can buy them on eBay and from online safety stores pretty readily, though, to get one of your own)

    So with lots of ventilation and fans going I followed Courtney's recipe from the above post. Soaked the gloves in the chlorine gas solution with the sealed lid on, to reduce gas escape.

    It worked! The gloves now pop on with no talcum powder just like the ones in the second video above! They feel super smooth, and they don't stick to each other like they used to.

    I would definitely recommend Courtney's technique no. 2.

    A little note, though. Wearing the respirator I couldn't smell any chlorine at all. It was like breathing fresh air. So as a test of how well the the respirator was working, and how intense the gas might be, I pulled the respirator off a little bit and took a breath while I was pouring the solution down the drain. I immediately smelled chlorine like an over-chlorinated pool on steroids and started to cough like crazy. I had to rush away from the bucket and get some fresh air before I stopped coughing enough to put the respirator back on and go over and finish cleaning up. Use your respirator, folks. and make sure you ventilate really well, whether you're inside or outside!

    I would say the chlorine smell was gone from around the house within 10 or 15 minutes from cleaning up.

    So the bottom line is: yes, you can chlorinate latex at home, and the safer vinegar technique works rather well.

    One thing for the future. I can't keep the respirator from the lab at home, and I wanted eye protection too, so I actually went to an army surplus store and got a real gas mask, and am ordering a gas protective cartridge for it on eBay. Ha ha, I'm going to be one cute chlorinator with that on my face .
    Last edited by AptaMer; 06-25-2013 at 02:26 AM.

  4. #4
    Getting Someone to Chlorinate Your Latex for You

    Yes, you can send your latex to Gordon, the guy who wrote the recipie for technique no. 1: (NSFW)

    He's in England, so this would work out best for people located in Europe. I didn't contact him, so I you wanted something as big as a tail chlorinated, it would be good to email him to see if he could handle it.

    In North America, a woman named Doll runs Rubenesque Latex, and she will chlorinate latex items you send her: (NSFW)

    I emailed her to confirm that she will do this service, and in fact it's clear she can handle tails, because she is making a latex tail for sale in her online store, with or without a monofin included: (NSFW)

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    so you can either get a pre-existing tail chlorinated, or get a chlorinated tail made for you, if Doll's style catches your fancy.

    So that's the story of chlorination! I hope it helps some people out.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Pod of The South WavyMermaidy's Avatar
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    Wow, Apta, that's a heck of a lot of research and experimentation!!! Thanks for all the info

  6. #6
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod
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    this is fascinating and would make a really cool Tail Flip Article, haha just sayin

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by AniaR View Post
    this is fascinating and would make a really cool Tail Flip Article
    Hi AniaR, I wouldn't want to be proprietary about any of the information. I'm a bit "writed out" after doing those posts, and don't think I'd be up for doing more writing for a new article, but if you or anyone else would like to write an article on chlorination for Tail Flip, please feel free to go ahead, and use any information from the posts above freely.

  8. #8

    Latex Protection from UV Damage

    Another discovery. There's a spray you can buy online called FadeSto.P ( )

    They say it works to stop the fading and weakening that exposure to sunlight and oxygen causes to latex rubber.

    So if it really works to stop fading and weakening like they say it does, then it could be worth getting to protect an expensive tail. unfortunately, when you click on the order link, they send you to their dealers in London: Atsuko Kudo ( , NSFW) and Luxury Latex, the brand of famous couture designer Kim West ( , SFW) Both these people design dresses for celebrities and are pretty expensive.

    Atsuko Kudo made the latex dress Lady Gaga wore to meet Queen Elizabeth
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    and Kim West has made latex dresses for many celebrities. Here's a dress of hers Rita Ora wore to her latest recording launch
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    So I couldn't find FadeSto.P on Atsuko Kudo's website, but on Kim West's link ( , SFW) it was £16.80, perhaps about $25, before shipping, which I guess is pretty pricy for a little bottle of stuff, but possibly worth it if it makes your latex tail or accessories last significantly longer and stay looking good.

    Attached below is a photo of a test they did with a dress protected only on one half with the protectant.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  9. #9
    Ha ha, a new discovery.

    Latex glue (rubber cement or Bostick) doesn't stick to chlorinated latex.

    So when you're trying to fix your latex gloves with a patch, and presumably your latex tail, the glue just peels off like your latex was teflon. or something.

    Did a bit of searching and Gordon, the guy who wrote up the scary chlorination technique, said that you need to sand off the non-sticky surface of the latex to expose the sticky rubber underneath, then patch it.

    So I got a piece of sandpaper, sanded off the area around the hole, and it worked like a charm. I got a repair patch like you use to repair bicycle inner tubes and was able to glue it over the hole in my rubber gloves using Bestine Rubber Cement, and they're good to go again.

  10. #10
    I know this is kind of off topic but what type of latex do I use to make a tail? Is it the same type they use in latex mask making/theatrical makeup?

  11. #11
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod PearlieMae's Avatar
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    Why would you want to bother making a latex tail, with all its problems and potential for allergic reactions?

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Marie Gremillion View Post
    I know this is kind of off topic but what type of latex do I use to make a tail? Is it the same type they use in latex mask making/theatrical makeup?
    You want to use what's is known as Slip-casting latex. Yes, it's usually used for making rubber masks. In the US, the best-known suppliers are Monster Makers and Burman Industries.

  13. #13
    Also what exactly would I use to make the mold? I have heard of shellshock but I cannot find it. Any help would be appreciated😊

  14. #14
    Latex casts best in plaster moulds, but will cure in other mould materials as well. I suggest checking out and reading over some of our archived Tailmaking threads.!

    I also have a thread on how I made my own latex tail.
    Last edited by Triton-Mahtlinnie; 04-11-2016 at 12:41 AM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Triton-Mahtlinnie View Post
    Latex casts best in plaster moulds, but will cure in other mould materials as well. I suggest checking out and reading over some of our archived Tailmaking threads.!

    I also have a thread on how I made my own latex tail. retro bowl unblocked
    Your topic Tailmaking and how to make your latex tail is awesome, it helped me create my new one, thank you so much.


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