Natural rubber, as initially produced, consists of polymers of the organic compound isoprene, with minor impurities of other organic compounds, plus water.

Currently, rubber is harvested mainly in the form of the latex from the rubber tree or others. The latex is a sticky, milky colloid drawn off by making incisions in the bark and collecting the fluid in vessels in a process called "tapping". The latex then is refined into rubber ready for commercial processing. In major areas, latex is allowed to coagulate in the collection cup. The coagulated lumps are collected and processed into dry forms for marketing.

Natural rubber is used extensively in many applications and products, either alone or in combination with other materials. In most of its useful forms, it has a large stretch ratio and high resilience, and is extremely waterproof.

Centrifuged latex is processed into final articles by dipping, extruding, and coating. Different articles have different physical and chemical requirements, which means that the latex used in their manufacture must be modified by the addition of a great variety of substances that give each "formulation" its unique characteristics.

These characteristics are well-specified and must be carefully controlled.