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Mercerising

Posted on 27th Jul 2013 @ 11:34 AM

According to Wikipedia…

Mercerization is a treatment for cotton fabric and thread that gives fabric or yarns a lustrous appearance
and strengthens them. The process is applied to cellulosic materials like cotton or hemp.
Mercerisation alters the chemical structure of the cotton fibre. The structure of the fibre inter-converts
from alpha-cellulose to a thermodynamically more favourable beta-cellulose polymorph.
Mercerising results in the swelling of the cell wall of the cotton fibre. This causes increase in the surface 
area and reflectance, and gives the fibre a softer feel.

The modern production method for mercerised cotton, also known as "pearl" or "pearle" cotton, gives 
cotton thread (or cotton-covered thread with a polyester core) a sodium hydroxide bath that is then 
neutralized with an acid bath. This treatment increases lustre, strength, affinity to dye, resistance 
to mildew, but, on the other hand, increases its affinity to lint.

Mercerisation has no place in organics and is an artificial means of achieving desirable outcomes for 
cotton fabrics. The practice is fundamentally unhealthy in holistic terms.

Mercerisation significantly reduces the possibility of fraying, abrasion or pilling. Like Formaldehyde, it 
works highly effectively. However it can no longer be deemed a natural product and could never be part 
of an organic certification process.

In organics we are constantly up against this kind of practice and can only appeal to the native 
intelligence of the consumer.