Does bakelite contain asbestos?
Bakelite does not contain asbestos. However, Bakelite and asbestos were both used during the same time period for their resistance to heat as well as electricity and both were easy to mass produce. The original patent notes that Bakelite can be mixed with substances like rubber or asbestos if desired. Even though Bakelite doesn’t contain asbestos, it isn’t unusual to find products that contain both Bakelite and asbestos or Bakelite that has been infused with asbestos.
In 1906 chemist Dr. Leo Hendrik Baekeland combined carbolic acid with formaldehyde. When the compound turned solid, Baekeland tried to reheat it, but it wouldn’t melt, even when heated at significant temperatures. He obtained a patent and trademarked the name “Bakelite”. This first synthetic plastic went into mass production in 1909.
It was 40 years before Bakelite was replaced. The emergence of new moldable plastics like Lucite, Vinyl and Acrylic in post-WWII America made Bakelite obsolete.