At TYM, we supply high-quality hoses (or more generally, tubing) that can be used for a variety of home and industry applications. Some of the most common materials used to produce hoses include rubber (e.g. your regular garden hose) and silicone. We previously explored the properties of silicone, and specifically why silicone is heat resistant. Based on these properties, silicone is now increasingly used for a variety of purposes. With that in mind, let’s ask another question: are silicone hoses better than rubber hoses?
While rubber has been used for hundreds of years, in a huge variety of applications, silicone has been used in industry for under a century, and has historically been reserved for more specialist applications. Fundamentally, both are relatively strong and flexible materials that can be used to produce hoses and tubes.
So, does this mean that traditional rubber is more useful, or does silicone represent an increasingly valuable material? Well, that probably depends on what you’re using the material for. Certainly, silicone should not be disregarded as a just a new fad, as it is now used in products ranging from vehicle parts, to electronics, to medical devices. But, in terms of hoses and tubing, is rubber or silicone the better option?
When comparing materials, it all comes down to properties. So, let’s look at a few examples, where specific properties are essential for particular applications.
Silicone is a non-toxic material, which means that it is suitable for the food industry. Specifically, silicone hoses can come into direct contact with drinks (e.g. in vending machines) without significantly tainting them. On a related note, metal detectable silicone sheet can even be used to detect and minimise silicone contamination. Similarly, silicone hose can be used where hygiene is critically important, such as in medical environments.
As we found out before, silicone is also characterised by excellent heat (and UV) resistance, and can often operate in temperature from well below freezing to over 200°C, depending on the specific product. As such, silicone hose is ideal for use in radiator and water coolant systems. However, EPDM rubber hoses are also suitable for a variety of water coolant applications, and can be more cost-effective than other materials when large quantities are required.
While silicone clearly has several beneficial properties, rubber shouldn’t be underestimated. Some rubber compositions (such as Viton) offer good resistance against corrosive fluids, even at elevated temperatures, without major degradation. As such, these rubbers are frequently used to produce hoses and tubing for transferring automotive and aviation fuels, where other materials would be unsuitable.
So, are silicone hoses better than rubber hoses? The short answer is that it depends on the application. For certain specialist uses, such as hoses used to transfer drinks, silicone is the ideal option. However, if you’re looking for a strong and flexible material that’s good for use in homes and less specialist applications, then rubber can be a cheaper and more effective alternative. If you’re still unsure, you can always read our hose overview, or get in touch with our experts at TYM.