COIR NATURAL FIBER
natural fiber (pronounced COY-er) is familiar to most of us as the
material used to construct coarse, wiry outside doormats as well as the
coarse fiber liners found in hanging flower baskets.
fiber originates as part of the common grocery store coconut. Each
coconut is actually the single seed of a fruit of the coconut palm tree.
coir fiber is retrieved from a layer of fibrous pulp that can be found
under the external leathery skin. This pulp is stripped from the seed of
the coconut palm before it is sent to market. In some countries, coir
fiber is named 'coprah.'
THE COCONUT PALM TREE
Palm trees flower monthly and it takes a year for each resulting fruit
to ripen. Therefore, one tree always contains fruits at 12 stages of
fruits are harvested approximately every 45-60 days. They can be
picked up off the ground if they have ripened and fallen or climbers
may pick the fruit still on the tree. In some areas, monkeys are taught
to climb the trees and help with the harvest of the coconuts. Each tree
can yield 50 to 100 coconuts a year.
fruit of the coconut palm is exceptionally hardy. The tree itself is
very useful, providing not only food and fibers, but drink, fuel, and
palms abound in the tropical regions of the world, although
commercially produced coir comes mostly from India and Sri Lanka.
Coconut palms originated in Southeast Asia and are grown in more than 93
countries in the world today. They are one of the oldest plant families
and have been cultivated for around 4,000 years.
Micronesia and Polynesia, coir was called sennit and sennit roping was
the main way to connect pieces in the construction of boats, weapons,
buildings, and tools until the introduction of iron nails from European
explorers in the late 18th century.
coir is also economically important in Brazil, Indonesia, the
Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico, and the Ivory Coast among others.
PROCESSING COCONUT INTO COIR NATURAL FIBER
coconuts are husked immediately. Unripe coconuts are often seasoned for
a month. They are spread out on the ground in a single layer to keep
manual labor is used, in order to remove the coir fiber, the coconut
will be placed on a steel spike to split the husk and then the pulp
layer can be easily peeled off. If modern husking machines are used,
they can split and peel about 2000 coconuts per hour!
There are 3 processing steps:
- Retting is the curing process.
- Defibering involves separating the fibers from the pith and the outer skin.
- Finishing follows last in the process of producing coir natural fiber.
on the type of fiber to be processed, the curing or retting stage of
coir natural fiber production results in significant water pollution,
though research has begun to find ways to treat this problem.
TYPES OF COIR NATURAL FIBER
the fibers are extracted from fully ripened coconuts, they yield brown
coir, which is strong and highly resistant to abrasion. This dark
brown coir is the one used mostly in floor mats, brushes, sacks, and
upholstery padding. Fresh water is used to process brown coir. It is
stronger than flax and cotton but not as flexible because it contains
more lignin and less cellulose. It is unsuitable for dyeing as well.
the fiber is extracted from the husks of coconuts shortly before they
ripen, it is light brown or white in color, is softer and finer, but is
not as strong as the brown coir. This type of coir is usually spun into
yarn and woven into floor mats or twisted into rope or twine. Sea water
and fresh water are both used to process white coir.
length is also important in coir natural fiber processing. Both the
brown and white types of coir fibers range in length from 4 to 12
inches. Bristle fibers must be at least 8 inches long. Mattress fibers,
which are finer in texture, are the shorter fibers. A 10 oz. coconut
yields about 1/3 bristle fiber and 2/3 mattress fiber.
ADVANTAGES OF COIR NATURAL FIBERS
Find out about the advantages of coir natural fibers and more by continuing to read here.