Latex is a milky white substance obtained from some kind of trees. The chief source of latex is the Brazilian hevea tree. Though it is native to South America, it is planted in large plantations in Southeast Asia. It is from this sap, the rubber is made. Latex contains about 30% rubber. When a slanting cut is made in the bark of a rubber tree, it secretes sap in response to the injury caused. Liquid oozing from the tree will be made to fall into a small cup which is then gathered by the rubber tappers.
Traditionally the substance from which chewing gums were made was called chicle. The chicle doesn’t dissolve when chewed. This chicle nothing but the latex sap of a tropical tree called sapodilla. Chicle was collected during rainy season, boiled down and molded into bricks. Then it was ground, melted, flavored and rolled into the eatable pellet form. Today, the chicle has been replaced with artificial gum bases like synthetic rubber by the chemists.
Latex is also used in a lot of medicinal equipments like surgical gloves, catheters, flexible tubing of stethoscopes, elastic bandages, wheel chair tires and many more. It is also used to make bodysuits, stockings, gloves and skin-tight garments that have a very shiny appearance.