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Why Hardness Matters...

Have you ever wondered why some silicone cupping therapy sets are soft and others aren't? Here's why knowing the hardness of your cups matters!

As we mentioned in our "Let's Talk Silicone" blog post, not all cups are created equal and knowing the silicone compound and curing process used to produce the product is super important....but so is knowing the hardness - or durometer - of your cups! When it comes to silicone products, the hardness level refers to the material's resistance to being penetrated or permanently indented. The commonly used durometer scale was defined by Albert F. Shore, who developed a measurement device called a durometer in the 1920s.

Durometer is the most common method to determine the hardness of a material such as silicone - higher numbers indicate a greater resistance to indentation and therefore a harder materials; lower numbers indicate less resistance and softer materials. Durometer numbers represent a relative comparison of hardness between different but similar materials that have had their hardness measured using the same durometer scale, device and measurement standard.

Shore hardness or durometer is actually a collection of internationally recognized measurement standards based on Shore durometers - measuring devices that use specific, standardized techniques for measuring hardness. Shore hardness standards provide a consistent, universal, easily reproducible reference that anyone can use to compare material hardness.

  • The Shore 00 Hardness Scale measures rubbers and gels that are very soft.

  • The Shore A Hardness Scale measures the hardness of flexible materials that range in hardness from very soft and flexible, to medium and somewhat flexible, to hard with almost no flexibility at all. Semi-rigid plastics can also be measured on the high end of the Shore A Scale. ** The majority of silicone cupping products are measured using the Shore A Scale.

  • The Shore D Hardness Scale measures the hardness of semi-rigid plastics and hard plastics.

As we mentioned above, the Shore Hardness scale measures the resistance of a material to indentation. This is done using a ‘Shore Hardness' gauge (it kind of looks like a round tire pressure gauge) has a needle on a spring protruding from one end. The needle is placed against the material and pressure is applied. Once the gauge is pressed firmly against the material and the needle has penetrated as far as it can go, the measurement needle will indicate the corresponding hardness measurement. Outlined below is a commonly-used chart to help understand the different hardness levels.

When it comes to silicone products, most of them will fall into the range of silicone 40A, 50A, silicone 60A, and silicone 70A. Most cupping products will have variances in between each of these hardness levels, which will ultimately produce a variation in how 'hard' the cup feels and what types of techniques they will be best used for. Note that these variations can be relatively minimal, but yet have a dramatic difference in how the cup feels.

For example, a cupping set that has a 60A hardness means that it is less prone to indentation and will feel harder than a cupping set that has a 40A hardness. If a cup is lower on the durometer scale (45A to 50A), it will feel incredibly soft and may be more difficult to use with various cupping techniques. Whereas cupping sets that are on the higher end (60A to 65A) will have a more 'rigid' feel to them.

Now that you have an understanding of why the hardness level of your cupping sets sure to ask your supplier what the durometer level is of their product so you can be assured that you are getting what you expect!

Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will outline what hardness levels are best used for various cupping techniques!