Shelf Life vs. Service Life in Rubber Products

By Shi Hwang

It is important to know how long your products will last, both on the shelf and in service. Therefore I have created a list of answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning shelf life and service life in rubber products. Feel free to visit our Rubber Storage Conditions page for more specific information on how to store your rubber products.

Question 1: How close to the end of the expiration date of the shelf life can rubber products be used?

—Answer: It depends on the storage conditions, which can affect the quality and shelf life of rubber products. If stored under the most suitable conditions, it could be used through or even beyond the expiration date of its shelf life. Bad storage conditions can shorten the expected shelf life.

Rubber products should be stored in a dry cool place and should be protected from light, moisture, oxygen, heat, ozone, any chemicals and deformation. Storage temperature should be below 25°C however, below 15°C is preferable.

Shelf life does not guarantee the quality of a product; therefore, rubber products should remain in storage for as short time as possible. During storage, rubber products can undergo changes in physical properties and ultimately become unusable.

If the shelf life has expired, rubber products should be carefully evaluated for possible use as originally intended before discarding products solely based on the suggested shelf life.

Question 2: Is the shelf life an issue for storage only or usage?

—Answer: It is an issue for storage only. Shelf life is one issue and service life is another. However, one should keep in mind that storage conditions can affect the service life of rubber products.

Question 3: What is the recommended shelf life of various polymers?

—Answer: The recommended shelf life generally associated with products fabricated from various polymers is listed below and is based on information provided in MIL-HDBK-695D Military Standardization Handbook Rubber Products: Recommended Shelf Life. These numbers represent average shelf life under normal dry/cool storage conditions and should be used for guidance purposes only. Shelf life varies depending on product specifications and compound design. For recommended shelf life of specific WARCO BILTRITE compounds, please contact our Technical Department at (714) 532-3355 or email us at sales@warco.com.

Feel free to visit our Rubber Storage Conditions page for more specific information on how to store your rubber products.

Common or Trade NameRecommended Shelf Life
Silicone20 years
Viton®, Fluorel20 years
Neoprene5-10 years
EPDM5-10 years
Butyl5-10 years
Nitrile, NBR5-10 years
SBR3-5 years
Natural Rubber, Pure Gum3-5 years

Visit Our Polymers Page For More Specific Information about Specific Polymers

Shi Hwang is the Technical Director at WARCO BILTRITE.

If you have any specific questions that your would like Mr. Shi Hwang to answer, email your questions to sales@warco.com or you may contact us directly at (714) 532-3355.