There are two main categories that all chemical resistant gloves fall into: unsupported and supported. An unsupported glove is constructed by dipping a hand form into glove composite material and once the composite dries it is peeled off the hand form, creating a molded glove. This category of glove offers excellent dexterity as well as tactile sensitivity.
On the other hand, a supported glove is manufactured when a knitted or woven glove material is placed on a hand form and then dipped into the glove composite which coats that woven or knitted material. Once it dries, you have a glove that is dual layered and is strong, durable, breathable and cool.
A few other things you’ll want to be aware of when choosing the appropriate chemical resistant gloves for your job are certain terms used to describe and qualify work gloves. The “breakthrough time” of a glove refers to the time it takes for a chemical to penetrate the glove after initial contact with that chemical. If a glove has a low breakthrough time, you do not want to use it when you’re working with chemicals for an extended period of time.
“Degradation” explains changes that occur in at least one of the physical properties of the glove due to contact with chemicals. Physical changes could include, shrinkage, holes, discoloration, cracks, or swelling. If these things happen to your gloves when you handle chemicals, you’ll want to find new gloves. The “permeation rate” of a glove helps you identify how long the glove will remain effective while handling chemicals. This describes the rate at which chemicals pass through the glove at a molecular level.
From here, there are for major types of glove materials used for chemical resistant work gloves.
Latex gloves can only handle the most mild of chemicals, like acetone or alcohol. It should not be used with any stronger chemicals or for an extended period of time because it will not withstand. Additionally, latex causes many people allergic reactions, so it may be best to steer clear of it all together.
Nitrile is a great replacement for latex as it is hypo-allergenic. Nitrile however, is inherently chemically resistant. It can withstand substances like gas, oils, some acids, as well as certain caustic materials. Nitrile is also often found as a coating for work gloves which offers additional protection and great grip. Nitrile wears well, but should not be used with strong oxidizers or nitric acid because you ma experience chemical burns.
PVC is a synthetic glove material and its chemical resistance depends on the added plasticizer. It does great handling oil based materials, but can start to soften when exposed to temperatures higher than 179 degrees for an extended period of time.
Neoprene is another synthetic rubber that can withstand heat and wears well over time. It can be used (with discretion) with hydrochloric acid, acetone, boric acid, and hydrogen peroxide. When using neoprene, you must be sure to familiarize yourself with the chemical compounds you’re using to ensure you’ll be protected by this material.