A strong, natural vegetable fiber obtained from the exterior of the seeds of various species of Gossypium native to India, the Sudan, and Ethiopia. Cotton is a major textile fiber and an important source of cellulose. It contains 88-96% pure alpha cellulose; the remainder is protein, pectin, sugar, oil, and wax. Cotton cloth was made as early as 5000 BCE in India. By 3000 BCE, cotton fabrics were being woven in Egypt, China, and Peru. Cultivation of cotton became wide spread in Europe in the Middle Ages. Today, most cotton is grown in the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, and Turkey. Microscopically, cotton fibers look like flattened twisted tubes. They have good luster and dye well with basic, direct, vat, and reactive dyes producing lightfast and washfast colors. Cotton is used for making fabrics, cordage, padding, plastics, and rag paper.
See also mercerized cotton.
Synonyms and Related Terms
white gold; qutun; kutun; coton (Fr.); bomuld (Dan.); Baumwollpflanze (Deut.); Baumwolle (Deut.); algodón (Esp.); cotone (It.); katoen (tje), katoenweefsel,katoenen stof; watje; katoenplant (genus Gossypium) katoengewas;katoen (draad/garen/stof/vezel); pluis (Ned); bomull (Nor., Sven.); algodão (Port.);
Resistant to alkalis and most organic solvents. Degraded by strong acids and cuprammonium hydroxide.
Fiber length = 1.6 - 6 cm. Moisture regain 7.0-8.5 % Elongation = 5-10%
Cotton burns with a steady flame and smells like burning leaves. The flame can be easily extinguished by blowing and the ash is easily crumbled.
|Melting Point||148 (dec)|
Paper fiber type: non-woody/seed. Using transmitted light microscopy, fibers appear as twisted tubes. Cut ends or blunt fiber ends are common in cotton rag pulp for papermaking. Cotton Linters tend to have more tapered ends. Immature fibers do not have a pronounced twist. Appearance with Graff "C" stain: pinkish red due to high α-cellulose. Average dimensions: (Rag) length 18mm, width 20μm; (linter) Length 2-7mm long width 20μm. Common pulping method: Soda.
Hazards and Safety
Discolors and eventually degrades in sunlight. Combustible. Susceptible to mildew, bacteria and silverfish. Resistant to moths and beetles. Toxic by inhalation of dust.
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