Carbon black is produced by the reaction of a hydrocarbon fuel such as oil or gas with a limited supply of combustion air at temperatures of 1320 to 1540°C (2400 to 2800°F). The unburned carbon is collected as an extremely fine black fluffy particle, 10 to 500 nanometers (nm) in diameter. The principal uses of carbon black are as a reinforcing agent in rubber compounds (especially tires) and as a black pigment in printing inks, surface coatings, paper, and plastics.
The most common use (70%) of carbon black is as a pigment and reinforcing phase in automobile tires. Carbon black also helps conduct heat away from the tread and belt area of the tire, reducing thermal damage and increasing tire life. About 20% of world production goes into belts, hoses, and other non-tire rubber goods.