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How Aluminum Foil Labels are Made: From Raw Aluminum to Your Tags

Aluminum foil labels are labels that are made with the use of, as you guessed it, aluminum rolled thinly into foil. These labels are oftentimes used for applications that require a label that is not only water proof, but also heat and cold proof. These labels are the perfect choice for companies that have products which may be heated directly, like ovenware, and chilled in a refrigerator, like beer.

How do these tags come to be and what does it take to create such a label that can withstand moisture, heat, and cold? Let us trace the beginnings of such a label and find out how it gets from a simple abundant mineral to a tag that is very useful to many businesses.

The aluminum foil label begins as raw material that has to be extracted from bauxite. This ore actually has not only the hydrated aluminum oxide needed to create the aluminum used in many applications, but it also contains iron. The bauxite is mined in large, surface pits with the use of explosives, and the ore is then loaded onto trucks that are then sent to processing plants where the extraction of the metals are done.

The manufacturing procedure that is used to create the aluminum foil that is used in your home, as well as the foil that is used in the creation of tags and labels, is actually a three step process. The first one involves the use of what is called the Bayer process. This is the refining stage, and this is where impurities such as silica, water, titania, and iron oxide are removed.

The next phase of the manufacturing procedure is the smelting process. This is where the aluminum oxide, which was derived with the use of the refining process, is converted to pure metallic aluminum. The aluminum oxide, also called alumina, is first dissolved with the help of cryolite, which is essentially an aluminum compound. With the aid of an electric current, the pure aluminum sinks to the bottom of the smelting cell with the help of an electrolytic process.

The pure aluminum that is extracted from the smelting process is now produced into ingots, which are then annealed to make them pliable. These annealed ingots are what are used to create the very thin aluminum foil that is used for the creation of labels and household foil. The rolling of the foil into thin sheets is much like the rolling of pasta into thin sheets, with the starting material being rather thick and being fed into rollers that have thinner and thinner gaps. The difference between rolling pasta and rolling aluminum foil is that, the latter has to be annealed or heated occasionally during the rolling process to make it workable.

Once the foil is rolled into the desired thinness, these are then finished according to possible usage, with some undergoing heat sealing procedures, some receiving polymer or resin coatings, and still a few more being laminated onto backing materials like plastic, paper, or cardboard. These are then shipped to those companies who produce aluminum foil products, one of which is the aluminum foil label that can be used by various companies on a variety of their merchandise.