Multiple v Disposable: face-off

At AllEarPlugs, we sell a lot of ear-plugs.  You’d probably already gathered that.  In fact, we sell earplugs in two main areas: the ones that you use once and throw away (disposable earplugs) and those that you use multiple times (reusable earplugs).  Nothing here that’s too complicated, obviously.  However, if you’ve never actually worn ear-plugs before, you might be a bit perplexed as to which type you should choose.  That’s why we’ve put together this piece looking at.

Disposable earplugs

First introduced way back in the 1980s, throwaway earplugs are generally speaking comfortable, soft, and easy to get in and out of your lugholes.  Enough said. 

The foam used in the throwaway earplugs varies in terms of density, which means that you can obtain models that suit your needs best.  Heavier models designed to block out absolutely everything as well as smaller, lower density plugs which don’t exert quite as much pressure on the ear canals.

Thermoplastic elastomer foam (TPE) is one particularly positive advancement in the field of disposable earplugs. Plugs made using TPE don’t even require rolling before they’re inserted – they can simply be slid into the ear canal.  As a result, they offer much improved acoustic performance, blocking sound more evenly across the various frequency levels (or octave bands).  Users can hear sounds such as speech or warning signals whilst still blocking those hazardous noises out.

Re-usable ear plugs

Multiple-use earplugs appeal to a number of different people.  They’re obviously the more expensive option, but if you take proper care of them and use ear plugs fairly frequently, they can actually end up being more economical in the long run.

Typically, multiple-use ear plugs are moulded using a semi-rigid stem and pliable flanges, which stops them needing to be rolled before insertion.  They’ll usually slide into the ear quite easily, and will be comfortable for long periods of time. 

Like disposable ear-plugs, most re-usable ear plugs used to be made using PVC.  However, in recent years it’s become more common for materials such as PU or TPE to be used instead.  These materials also have a much lower environmental impact than PVC, which is never a bad thing.

Another key feature found in many re-usable ear plugs is a special TPE formulation responsive to body heat.  As the ear-plug warms up to body temperature inside the ear canal, it then takes on the shape of the canal.  This allows for a more personalised fit and, as a result, much more comfortable ear-plugs.

Typically, multiple-use ear plugs are provided in a corded format, although uncorded styles are also sometimes available.  The cord makes it easier for the wearer to keep the earplugs around their necks!

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