How does cotton become a fabric?
What is cotton
Who in Germany doesn't know the shirt or others? Cotton clothing, but what kind of fabric is cotton? Despite its name, cotton (Gossypium) does not grow on a tree, but on plants in large areas. The name came about because their plant seeds can spread over a greater distance, similar to a tree.
Cotton cotton) is one of the oldest crops the world, its largest area of application today is in the textile industry.
It found its way from America via Spain and Italy to Europe and had its breakthrough at the beginning of the 19th century. A Third of all textiles are usually made of cotton, the material is mainly used for cotton blankets, cotton clothes or cotton bedding. However, products made of cotton are represented in many different categories, for example there is also cotton oil.
The cultivation is carried out in large quantities worldwide, mainly from the tropical and subtropical regions, where the cotton is huge in the warm climate Plantations grows on small bushes.
The cotton fibers coat the seeds of the plant so that the wind can spread them and store water to germinate. Cotton cultivation today has many compared to conventional cultivation important standards. Both the protection of the environment through pesticides and the quality are crucial because the Genetic engineering has led to genetically modified cotton species.
If you are wondering: which countries produce cotton? Then the following list of countries may help you. The ten largest producers are (in that order): China, India, the United States, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Australia, Turkey, Greece and Mexico. 2012 alone were worldwide 26 million tons produced, the majority of the processed cotton comes from these ten countries.
What are the properties of cotton?
The cotton properties and advantages are:
- very absorbent
- when wet more tear-resistant than in the dry
- skin-friendly and without scratching
- little Allergy potential
- very heat resistant
- durable and easy to care for
- durable and stretchy
One of the most important properties of cotton is that, unlike synthetic fibers, it very absorbent is even more tear-resistant when wet than when dry. It does not scratch, but lies soft and enjoyable on the skin. It can be ironed at high temperatures and repeated washes will not harm it. She also has a very low allergy potential on.
How is cotton made?
First of all, it must be clarified: Where does the name cotton come from? For Europeans it seemed unusual for textiles to grow on plants. Something so extraordinary should be reflected in the name. The Cotton cultivation after all, takes place on plantations, on huge fields similar to vegetables. The cotton fruit consists of one capsulethat pops up at flowering time and one fluffy content contains. Cotton is a perennial plant and is cultivated as an annual. There are several months between sowing and harvesting the cotton, and it ripens irregularly. Farmers have to harvest them several times. Cultivation jobs are very unpopular because that Picking by hand is laborious and, due to the sharp-edged capsules, prone to injuries. So nowadays it mostly happens through machinery, so-called Cotton harvesters collect the bales.
Then the remains of leaves and seeds must be separated from the cotton fibers. This is done using a Ginning machine. The remaining cotton fibers are pressed into bales and transferred to a spinning mill. With a Carding machine the fiber is brought into the right shape. A cotton yarn is then twisted with a spinning machine. At the end there is a finishing process, the Mercerize is called. This changes the chemical structure of the cotton fiber. This makes the cotton more elastic, shiny, tear-resistant and better washable.
The story - where does cotton actually come from?
The Cotton plant was domesticated by humans in different places independently of each other. The centers of domestication taking place almost simultaneously are the northern Andean region (Incas), Mesoamerica (Mayas), southern Africa, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and China. The oldest evidence of clothes made of cotton can be found in India and are on 6000 BC Chr. dated. From there the cotton reached between 2000 and 1000 BC. BC Babylon, Egypt and much later Europe.
Wild cotton probably spread from the savannas of South Africa to North Africa and the Middle East. In the absence of evidence of domestication, researchers assume that it was only domesticated in Arabia and Syria. The Incas used cotton for textiles 5000 years ago, 1000 years before they could make pottery or cultivate maize. The Mesoamerican peoples (Aztecs, Maya) used cotton 3000 BC. And quickly domesticated them.
What all peoples had in common was that they valued cotton very much, sometimes like it Luxury product treated. Mayans and Aztecs traded in colored cotton products and gave guests cotton gifts as a token of appreciation. This was also the case with all other peoples who later came into contact with cotton. Romans and Greeks, who came to know cotton through the conquests of Alexander the Great, valued cotton for theirs White color and your fineness. Around AD 500, cotton was used in the Arab world Standard material for work clotheswhile it was rare in Europe. Played a big role here India, where different varieties were cultivated, which reached the Middle East via Gujarat in the northwest of the country.
The Conquering the New World through the Conquistadores again showed the Europeans the diverse possibilities of plant fibers. All Spanish military leaders reported full of admiration for the variety of clothes and colors of the natives of the Mesoamerican peoples like the Aztecs.
Until the 17th century, the cotton cloth was due to the high Workload a real luxury good. Similar to silk, which was half as labor intensive. Pure cotton fabrics could only be produced in India, which is why Europe imported the cotton cloth from there. This led to the wool processing industry, especially in England angry and there were significant protests. Held in parallel Venice until the 17th century the trade monopoly on cotton from the Levant, the Middle East.
The cotton came to Northern European countries via the Augsburg hub. There, cotton gradually replaced linen, wool and hemp. The rampant East India trade, in which the Netherlands was increasingly involved, weakened Venice's position. Until it became completely insignificant due to the English trade with the North American colonies. As more cotton became available, manufacturers needed new methods that made the cumbersome process of carding the cotton fibers and removing the seeds easier. This happened with the invention of the Spinning Jenny, of Waterframe and des Cotton gin in the second half of the 18th century. The first part of the industrial revolution took its course. Cotton gin in particular, a machine for removing the seeds, made processing a lot easier. They expanded the amount of industrially usable cotton plant species, so that especially in the American colonies the production increased enormously.
As with any revolution, besides winners, there have been many losers. The first were them Peasants and Weavers in Indiawhich have been degraded by trading partners for cloth to raw material suppliers. Also the Afro-American slaves in the cotton fields of the southern states. Slavery took on ever greater proportions until the prohibition of slavery in 1808 and shaped the southeastern part of today's USA.
The opposing worldview of the plantation owners in the south and the industrial barons in the north ultimately led to American Civil War. In the following period, cotton reached a worldwide level 80 percent market share (related to fabrics, especially clothing). Today, after polyester and other synthetic fibers overtook cotton, the proportion is still 40 percent.
What is organic cotton?
In agriculture, cotton counts as that Plant with the highest use of chemicals, that's why some cotton farmers swear by the cultivation of Organic cotton. Unfortunately, the trend towards organic issues in cotton production came in a bad light due to various scandals in which genetically modified cotton was sold as organic cotton. Production has since declined sharply. If cotton is processed with pesticides, there are some disadvantages. The emerging genetic engineering has led to genetically modified cotton varieties. Also needed cotton extremely much fresh water and contributes to negative consequences such as soil erosion, desiccation and salinization.
KbA-Cotton, which means abbreviation controlled organic cultivation, comes from producers who refrain from genetic modifications and chemicals during cultivation. The kbA project is supported by the European Union. Cotton grown according to the strict guidelines can then also be referred to as organic cotton.
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