Gloves are meant to protect your hands from various elements. But the question is this: what type of gloves protects your hands from hazardous chemicals? The answer depends on the type of chemicals you’ll be exposed to. For example, PVA can protect you against chlorinated chemicals but it will dissolve in water if exposed to moisture for long. Below, I discussed the widely used gloves that help protect the hands against hazardous chemicals:
1. Leather gloves
One of the most popular choices when it comes to mild hazardous chemicals is leather gloves. Leather has excellent insulation, grip, and durability. And since it’s way thicker than typical fabrics, it is a top choice as a material for work gloves.
However, over time, leather will crack and dry when exposed to extreme temperatures. Also, leather is prone to staining when used on colored chemicals. But for mild substances, leather can hold up pretty well. Still, you have to consider the porous characteristic of the leather material that may absorb chemicals.
Overall, if you’re handling aggressive chemicals, you need more than leather to protect your hands.
2. Kevlar gloves
Kevlar is a type of durable plastic that’s a distant cousin of nylon. It’s very durable and has better tensile abilities than steel. Despite its strength, Kevlar gloves remain lightweight that’s why it’s a top choice in many workplaces. It’s widely used in industrial settings where the user has to deal with chemicals, heat, and other harsh elements.
Although Kevlar gloves can endure hazardous chemicals, you should avoid prolonged exposure to acids or bases. The material will not melt right away but the damages will accumulate and soon degrade the gloves.
Overall, Kevlar gloves are tough against hazardous chemicals. It will also protect your hands against punctures and cuts.
3. PVA gloves
PVA or Polyvinyl Alcohol gloves are coated with a PVA material that repels harsh chemicals. It can endure strong solvents as well as chlorinated chemicals, aliphatics, and aromatic substances. PVA gloves are so strong it will not shrink or melt if exposed to any of the said chemicals.
However, you shouldn’t use PVA on water-based solutions because it will dissolve in water. Despite that, these gloves are tough against hazardous chemicals.
Usually, PVA gloves are used on life sciences industries as well as lab equipment where the user will get exposed to various chemicals. These gloves are also useful in dealing with chemical spills and leaks as well as transferring chemicals from tanks and vessels.
4. Viton gloves
Another pair of gloves made to protect the hands against hazardous chemicals is Viton. This material is the perfect solution to chemicals that other gloves can’t handle. However, Viton also comes at a higher price due to its durability.
Viton is widely used in the aerospace industry as well as applications involving aggressive chemicals. It’s extremely heat-resistant and chemical-resistant. You can use it on aromatic hydrocarbons like xylene, benzene, and toluene. Also, Viton gloves are protected against highly corrosive chemicals but you should not use it on ketones.
Like Kevlar, Viton is also a proprietary material of the brand DuPont. Viton gloves can retain their shape despite prolonged and regular use. It can also put up against high-pressure environments.
However, Viton is also dubbed as the “last resort polymer” because it’s only used on the most abrasive chemicals. As long as other glove types can deal with specific hazardous chemicals, Viton is reserved for other applications.
5. Butyl gloves
On the other hand, butyl gloves are used when working with hazardous gasses. It’s resistant to chlorine gas, hydrogen cyanide, and other similar gasses. This type of glove is also widely used in handling ketones, acetones, and similarly abrasive cleaning agents.
Due to its protective abilities against hazardous chemicals, butyl gloves are used for agriculture, medical research, automotive, lab work, emergency response, and pesticides. You can also find these gloves on chemical mixing jobs and even salons during intensive hair treatments.
But just like Viton, butyl gloves are expensive. The materials used to produce it is costly, thus the equally pricey glove cost. The price is well-justified because butyl gloves are highly impermeable even by missile fuels. It will also remain pliable and sensitive at low temperatures.
6. Nitrile gloves
For those working on less abrasive chemicals like petroleum solvents, gasoline, kerosene, and the likes, nitrile gloves are cost-effective options. It works well in protecting the hands against hazardous chemicals at a moderate price range.
However, since nitrile gloves are not as resistant as Viton or butyl, it must not be used on ketones or highly oxidizing acids. It’s not a good option for organic chemicals like nitrogen either. Also, nitrile gloves are not made for heat exposure because it has poor flame-resistance.
Usually, nitrile gloves are used in medical industries as well as automotive assembly. It’s also useful for plant work and painting jobs where hazardous chemicals are involved.
Aside from gloves, nitrile is used on fuel hoses, rollers, gaskets, and other products that will be used on petroleum. As a glove material, nitrile is pretty affordable and can be purchased in many hardware or medical supply stores.
7. SilverShield gloves
SilverShield is a material that is actually a brand of protective gloves made of Norfoil. It’s very lightweight but highly impermeable by an array of hazardous chemicals. This is used in petrochemical laboratories as well as medical applications. Due to its resistance to various chemicals, SilverShield is also used on hazmat control operations and spill cleanups.
Overall, SilverShield gloves will protect your hands from over 280 types of chemicals. That includes but not limited to oxygenated, chlorinated, aromatic, and aliphatic substances. Aside from that, SilverShield doesn’t dissolve in water-based chemicals like caustic bases or acids.
Although SilverShield is tough against hazardous chemicals, it remains pliable and soft. It has a flexible film coating that allows the gloves to conform to your hands. Also, SilverShield is affordable and disposable. If you are to handle highly aggressive chemicals, you can use SilverShield gloves as an inner layer on either Viton or butyl pairs.
The only downside to SilverShield is it doesn’t offer the best protection against cuts and punctures. If you’re going to handle heavy machinery or sharp objects with chemicals, SilverShield may not be the best option.
8. Neoprene gloves
Neoprene is another material for gloves that protect the hands from hazardous chemicals. Although it’s not as tough as other gloves I’ve discussed above, neoprene is still effective in dodging oils, inks, alcohols, and mild acids.
Aside from that, Neoprene also works well against organic chemicals and bases. The best part is that neoprene gloves perform well without compromising the dexterity of the hands.
As a synthetic rubber, neoprene is not prone to punctures, snags, and abrasions. It’s actually more durable than nitrile in terms of these aspects. Neoprene gloves are relatively cheaper
You should avoid using neoprene gloves on inorganic oxidizing agents as well as chromic acids. Concentrated nitric acids will also degrade neoprene gloves.
For those who are looking for cheaper gloves that can deal with hazardous chemicals, PVC is a great option. PVC or polymerizing vinyl chloride gloves protect against hydrochloric, nitric, chromic, phosphoric, and oxidizing acids. Overall, PVC is more chemical-resistant than other polymer-based gloves in the market.
PVC also resists aging and punctures. It remains durable for a long time that’s why it’s widely used in petrochemical industries as well as mild industrial purposes.
However, PVC isn’t suitable for ketones, acetones, ethers, and chlorinated solvents. As a thermoplastic polymer, PVC may not be suitable for high-heat applications unless it’s been treated with a flame-retardant.
So what type of gloves protects your hands from hazardous chemicals? You can choose from Viton, butyl, PVC, PVA, and SilverShield among others. You should always consider what type of chemical you’re going to handle to ensure that the gloves will provide ample protection. Although some of these gloves don’t come cheap, the price is relative to its level of protection.