Rubber bands aren’t expensive, but they can be important to have around. And making sure you don’t use them recklessly could help keep rubber out of landfills. But did you know that there’s an easy way to prolong the life of your rubber bands? Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
Why do rubber bands last longer when refrigerated?
The rubber used to make rubber bands is unlike most other materials. In many cases, materials do better in warmer or room temperature environments places that don’t stress the bonds hold them together. But that’s not the case for rubber bands.
Cold temperatures make the polymers in the rubber more relaxed. This prevents them from degrading or forming the dry rot that causes them to break just when you need them most.
According to JFlex (cited below): “When a rubber band is stretched it causes its polymer chains to become very ordered and it expels thermal energy (heat), thus shortening its life. This is increased further when placed in higher temperature environments which increases the oxidisation rate. Also, the natural rubber that is used to make rubber bands crystallises over time, giving us what is commonly called ‘dry-rot’ – which is where the bands get dry, crumble and no longer have any elasticity.”
Be careful when removing rubber bands from the fridge
Now, if you do decide to refrigerate your rubber bands, make sure not to stretch them right away.
“When a rubber band is in its relaxed state it is very unordered, and will cool when going from a structured state to a relaxed state. So when a rubber band is put in the refrigerator it makes the polymers even more relaxed due to the way they behave in the cold.
Something to be careful of is immediately stretching the rubber band after being in the fridge, as this will cause it to weaken significantly because of the rapid change of temperature state.”
Who knew? — WTF fun facts