Best Rubber Bands

Updated May 2021
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Buying guide for best rubber bands

Rubber bands are used all over the world in homes, offices, and other places on a daily basis, but most people hardly give them a second thought. When it comes time to buy yourself some rubber bands, you might be surprised by how much there is to think about.

First off, you need to buy rubber bands that are the right size or sizes for the tasks you have in mind. You also need to consider the rubber content: bands with more rubber are easier to stretch and less prone to breaking, but they don't give as firm a hold. Other features also make a difference, such as color, quantity, and whether the rubber bands contain latex.

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Don't think that rubber bands are for office use only. They're great for various household uses, such as sealing open food packages or holding together bundles of receipts that you need to keep.

Key considerations

Size

Before purchasing rubber bands, you should check their length and width. Rubber bands are given a numerical size, but unless you know the corresponding length and width of every numerical size, you need to check the measurements.

Width: The cut width is the width of a rubber band perpendicular to the length. Standard rubber bands vary in width from 1/16 to 5/8 inch.

Length: The flat length is the length of the rubber band from end to end, flattened but not stretched. Standard rubber bands vary in length from 7/8 inch to 7 inches, though you can find some larger and smaller nonstandard options.

Some rubber bands are sold in packs of all the same size, but you can find some variety packs that contain rubber bands in a range of sizes. Variety packs are more practical for home use because you're unlikely to need 500 rubber bands of the same size.

Rubber content

Rubber bands generally contain somewhere between 50% and 90% rubber. This can either be natural rubber or synthetic rubber, but it’s predominantly natural rubber. The higher the percentage of rubber, the more easily the rubber band stretches and the longer it lasts.

High: If you're looking for highly durable, easy-to-stretch rubber bands, opt for a rubber content somewhere between 80% and 90%. Rubber bands with a high rubber content are more expensive than those with a low rubber content.

Medium: Bands with 65% to 75% rubber content stretch about one-fifth less than 80% to 90% rubber options but give you a firmer hold. They're still moderately durable too.

Low: Rubber bands with the lowest rubber content, between 50% and 60%, are the least durable and the least stretchy, but they give you the firmest hold, which is advantageous for some uses. 

Stretch

The degree of stretch in a rubber band is related to the rubber content, but the rubber content isn't the only factor that determines how stretchy a rubber band is. If you know that you'll need to get your rubber band around a big item, it needs a large degree of stretch. The trouble is it can be hard to tell how much a rubber band will stretch just by looking at it. A smaller width and higher rubber content are generally good signs that a rubber band will stretch a decent amount. You can also check customer reviews to get an idea of the stretchiness of a particular rubber band.

While you can find some small rubber bands specifically designed for securing box braids and similar, you shouldn't use standard rubber bands to tie back long hair because they can damage the hair.

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Features

Colors

You might not think that the color of your rubber band makes much of a difference, but it can be useful to have a range of colors in some situations. For instance, in an office you might use red bands on urgent files, yellow bands on moderately pressing files, and green bands on files that don't need to be dealt with right away. For home use, you could use a color-coding system to denote which leftovers or staple ingredients need to be used first and which can wait a while.

Latex-free

Natural latex is a fairly common allergen and you’ll find it in most rubber bands unless they're labeled "latex-free." People with a serious latex allergy need to use latex-free rubber bands, which are made using synthetic rubber rather than natural rubber. Latex-free rubber bands are also commonly used in the medical professions, where allergies are more of a concern and synthetic rubber is preferred for its antimicrobial properties. Latex-free rubber bands are a little more durable than natural rubber options, but they cost significantly more.

Quantity

When buying rubber bands, you want to pay attention to how many you receive in a package. Large elastic bands are sometimes sold in small packs of 25 to 50, but it's much more common to find packs that contain 400 to 1,000. In many cases, all the rubber bands are the same size, but you can also find packs that contain rubber bands in a variety of sizes. If you're purchasing rubber bands for office use, it might be sensible to buy 1,000 rubber bands of the same size, but an average household probably wouldn't use them all in a lifetime. Unless you have one specific task you need rubber bands for at home and know the size you need for it, your best bet is to buy a variety pack with a range of sizes.

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DID YOU KNOW?
Thin rubber bands stretch farther than thick ones but break more easily and don't provide very firm support.
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Rubber band prices

Inexpensive: Some rubber bands cost around $1 to $5 per pack. These tend to be relatively small packs or those that aren't of the best quality. They may have a low rubber content and not be the most durable.

Mid-range: Expect to pay between $5 and $10 for a moderate number of rubber bands, either of the same type or in a variety pack. You may find some small packs of rubber bands with high rubber content at this price.

Expensive: The most expensive packs of rubber bands cost between $10 and $25. At this price, you'll generally get more than 1,000 rubber bands or fewer extra-large bands. You'll also find options with high rubber content and latex-free varieties.

Not all rubber bands are equally strong. If you buy a poor-quality brand, expect more breakage than you'd get with high-quality rubber bands.

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Tips

  • Consider buying a variety pack with a range of shapes and sizes. Unless you need rubber bands for one specific task, it's likely that you'll require bands in various sizes. A range of colors can also be useful for organization.
  • Don't buy too large a package of rubber bands for home use. Sure, you might find a great deal on 1,000 rubber bands of the same size, but will you actually use more than a handful of them?
  • Choose the right rubber band for the task. Just because you can fit a rubber band around an item or items, it doesn't mean it's the best rubber band for the task. A thin rubber band might be able to secure a lid on a shoebox, but it could easily snap and let the contents spill out, so a thicker, stronger band would be preferable.
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Some rubber bands come in the form of a rubber band ball, which makes them easier to keep together in one place without looking messy.

FAQ

Q. What are the numbers assigned to rubber bands and do I need to know them?

A. All standard-size rubber bands are assigned a number from 8 to 117B, and each number equates to a measurement. For example,

Number 8 rubber bands are the smallest on the list and measure 7/8 inch long and 1/16 inch wide.

Number 107 rubber bands are the largest on the list and measure 7 inches long and 5/8 inch wide.

Of course, there's no need to memorize the number of every size of rubber band. If you find a particular size useful, however, knowing it's number will make it easier to find and order it the next time.

Q. What are rubber bands useful for?

A. You can use rubber bands for a wide range of household and work-related tasks. Some notable examples include holding related files or pieces of paperwork together, keeping a book or container closed in your bag, organizing drawers or desks by keeping items such as pens together that would otherwise roll away and sealing packets of food to keep it fresh.

Q. Are rubber bands the same as resistance bands?

A. Resistance bands are used in exercise to help build and tone muscle. Technically, some types of resistance bands are essentially giant rubber bands; however, we wouldn't group them in the same category as standard rubber bands.

 

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