Before The Rubber Hits The Road

Some time ago we noticed that a collection of rubber trees we pass from time to time were being tapped to obtain the latex sap from them. To give you an idea of what this sap is like, according to Wikipedia, it is the same milky substance we see in dandelions. We stopped to watch and take a few pictures. It is quite a procedure. A tapper uses a couple of sharp instruments on the end of long poles to strip away a layer of bark on a tree. This is done is such a way that the sap will flow down the tree to be collected in a small cup. After a number of days, the tapper will come and empty the cup into a large metal bucket. The bucket is carried to a collection point where they are emptied into larger plastic containers. An acid is added to the sap and the mixture is stirred well. The acid causes the latex to congeal in the container and once this occurs, the containers are put on the back of a trailer and driven to the “factory” on the plantation for further processing. Up until the latex is driven to the factory, everything is done by hand, so there is a lot of walking and carrying heavy loads for the tappers. Something to think about the next time you use a product containing natural latex.