Life and Times of Latex Gaskets

Q1:I noticed that another one of my neck gaskets has reached the point where the surface cracks are visible. I am curious if I perhaps stretched it out on a form and rubbed on a very thin layer of Aquaseal if that might help preserve it a bit longer? Or would that be a waste of time?

Q2:I heard some people claim that the optimum storage for drywear is to put the item in a sealed garbage bag, and store it in a cool place. If you have room in a spare refrigerator to put it in there. Any one know the official scientific advice?

Q3:My last neck gasket (“seal”) purchase was off Ebay. Anyone have any opinions on the various gasket sources?


Storing in the refrigerator makes sense
Any kind of deterioration involves a chemical change, and chemical processes are generally (always?) slower at colder temperatures. As one oddball example, there’s a huge cold-storage warehouse in my town, which years ago and perhaps now as well, devoted a lot of space to the storage of tires. Yep, tires. Even tires last longer when stored cold. For something that deteriorates as easily and quickly as latex, cold storage makes a lot of sense.

Not sure about the refrigerator

– Last Updated: Dec-31-13 11:44 AM EST –

I have found that the life of latex gaskets seems quite variable. I generally expect them to last for several years but I am fairly careful about rinsing skin oils off of them after use.

I have heard that storing the dry garment in a sealed garbage bag during the off-season helps preserve life. And it is better to store it in a cool rather than very warm environment. The reason to seal it in a bag is to protect the gaskets from environmental ozone which definitely breaks down latex. Ozone is generated by any electrical motor that uses brushes. I am not sure about the compressor on a refrigerator. I would keep it away from laser printers, furnaces using a forced hot air blower, air filtration units and the like.

I have used Aquaseal to mend small holes in latex gaskets and it works. I doubt spreading a thin layer on would work, but if you try it and it does, let us know.

Years ago, a product called Seal Saver was recommended for latex gaskets. People applied it too liberally and found that it rotted gaskets prematurely. Kokatat (and other manufacturers) then warned against its use and recommended 303 Protectant instead. I still use Seal Saver. I don't know if you can even buy it any more. I apply it relatively infrequently in exceedingly sparing amounts when the seals start to look "dry". I have also used 303 Protectant. I am somewhat confident that used this way Seal Saver can extend the life of latex gaskets.

More thoughts on refrigerators

– Last Updated: Dec-31-13 10:21 AM EST –

Your comment about electric motors makes sense, and I had a vague notion about that but didn't comment on it. They make special refrigerators for storage of highly flammable materials, and in those models there can be no migration of fumes to the location of the motor or any exposed electrical contacts (where there may be sparking). Household refrigerators aren't built that way, and with those models the reverse would therefore be possible as well, that is, there could be transfer of air from the motor and other places of electrical sparking into the storage space. Maybe putting the suit in a well-sealed container would overcome that problem.

I don't have a spare refrigerator, but I do keep the suit in a cool place.

Seal source
OS Systems ( sells seals in several sizes and two thicknesses, so you can get the best fit for your body and your padding style. They also sell a full range of other drysuit supplies. I’ve used their stuff for years and have been very pleased with it.


– Last Updated: Jan-02-14 8:44 AM EST –

I buy my gaskets and a local dive shop because they carry ex-large size. I'm not a football player neck either but the ex-lg just makes it more comfortable without cutting.

I'd be cautious about the extra thick ones that dive stores sometimes carry. I had a friend buy one. He couldn't take it and in a few weeks, he replaced it with the thinner variety.

I think the next time my neck seal goes, I'm going neoprene. I have a neoprene neck dry top and I roll with it and get a few drops here and there but ounce for ounce it does fine and ENOUGH with the latex neck seals. Besides, if you swim with a PFD, your neck is above water.