Shelf Life vs. Service Life in Rubber Products

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Shelf Life vs. Service Life

by Shi Hwang

The following are answers to frequently asked questions regarding the shelf life of rubber products.

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

    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.

  • Is the shelf life an issue for storage only or usage?

    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.

  • Recommended shelf life of various polymers

    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

    Common or Trade Name Recommended Shelf Life
    Silicone 20 years
    Viton®, Fluorel 20 years
    Neoprene 5-10 years
    EPDM 5-10 years
    Butyl 5-10 years
    Nitrile, NBR 5-10 years
    SBR 3-5 years
    Natural Rubber, Pure Gum 3-5 years

    Visit our Polymer pages for more 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 or you may contact us directly at (714) 532-3355.