Know About Phthalate-Free Materials Used in O-Rings and Gaskets

Phthalates are the most common characterized family of chemicals used in several food products, cosmetics, and home improvement products. They are mainly found in toys, wall coverings, detergents, pharmaceuticals, blood bags, nail polishes, soaps, perfumes, and other personal care products. Phthalates are used as softeners in most of the aforementioned personal care products and are also used in food packaging applications.

Phthalates have been proved harmful for humans, especially men and children as they affect the endocrine system and hamper the reproductive health in men. In children, they increase the risk of asthma. They enter into our bodies through plastic coatings, food labels, adhesives, and sealants on cans and metal lids. Their increasing concentration in the human body has caused several leading organizations to impose stricter regulations on their widespread use. The use of many phthalates has been banned in Europe and the US, in food and cosmetics processing. Thus, the demand for phthalate-free or low-phthalate alternatives has increased. In response to the regulations, the demand for phthalate-free seals and gaskets is on the rise in food and pharmaceutical industry. What are phthalate-free seals made of? Read this post to know more.

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What are the Common Materials Used for Making Phthalate-free Seals?

Advancement in chemical technologies has been harnessed by OEMs over the years. Today, it is easier to create phthalate-free alternatives for several elastomers. However, these elastomers may have certain limitations when used in sealing applications. This is because phthalates are utilized as plasticizers in several elastomeric compositions. There are a few elastomers that can be altered to make phthalate-free alternatives without altering their beneficial chemical properties. The following are a few such elastomers that are also available as phthalate-free compounds, and widely used for making seals and gaskets in the food and cosmetics industry.

  • FKM: This is the abbreviation for the category of fluoroelastomers containing the monomer vinylidene fluoride. These elastomers have gained popularity in several industries owing to their capability of withstanding high operating temperatures. Nowadays, O-rings made of FKM are widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industry owing to the following properties:
    • FKM materials have low gas permeability, which makes them perfect for a wide range of vacuum sealing applications.
    • These materials are also suited for vacuum applications that demand low contamination at high temperatures.
    • FKM materials can resist aging, wear and tear, and have excellent tensile strength.
    • These materials can easily withstand temperatures up to 392 °F.

All the above-mentioned characteristics make O-rings made of FKM ideal for sealing various applications involving vegetable oils, greases, mineral oils, fuels with methanol content, and more.

  • EPDM: This is the abbreviation for Ethylene-Propylene (EPDM). The O-rings made of this material are known for their thermal, as well as chemical resistance. The following properties of this material make it popular across various industries:
    • The EPDM material offers excellent compression set, thermal, abrasion, and elongation resistance.
    • The material has low temperature as well as gas permeability.
    • EPDM O-rings can strongly resist chemicals such as ketones, alkali, acids, and alcohols. These O-rings are also widely used in applications, where they may be exposed to cleaning agents, inorganic and organic agents, soda and potassium alkalis, and more.

There are several manufacturers who specialize in the design and manufacturing of phthalate-free seals for the food and pharmaceutical industry. SSP Seals is one of the leading manufacturers of these seals. They offer these seals in FKM and Aflas FFKM as well as EPDM materials. The company specializes in a wide range of food grade seals made of FDA-approved materials.

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