Cotton has been around a very long time. Seeds dating back to 450 BC were found in Peru. Man has been cultivating and processing fabrics from Cotton fibers since at least 3000BC, making it the oldest known textile. But the very oldest found Cotton dates back twice as far to 6000 BCE in Peru. Here is some useful information while you use Cotton and its related products:
• All of the Cotton plant is used, there is no waste. The fiber is the primary reason for growing Cotton. But the seeds are used for animal feed and human use (cottonseed oil). The plant stalks are tilled back in the soil after harvesting.
• The Cotton fiber is made up of cellulose which is a natural polymer. Humans can’t digest cellulose but ruminants such as cattle and horses can digest it because they have an enzyme that can break down to sugars.
• To produce finer yarns out of any type of Cotton, the short fibers are combed out before spinning into yarn. It is called comber yarn, and yes the short fibers (comber noils or comber) removed are recycled and used for many products like Cotton balls and Q-tips.
• Yarns are classified by number. The higher the yarn number the finer (thinner and softer) the yarn. So a 16 yarn is twice the weight of a 32 yarn.
• Cotton is not absorbent or pure white. It has a tannish color. Mother Nature coats it with a protective raincoat of oils and waxes so it can’t get wet and rot in the fields. To make it absorbent the oils and waxes have to be removed. To make it white the fiber has to be purified. In the past chlorine-based chemicals were used for purification.