What is coir? Coir is the fiber derived from coconuts. Coconuts are incredibly versatile because not only are they food, but they can also be used to make other materials, like the coir fabric. The coir fabric is environment-friendly, and it’s strong enough to be used for rope, rugs, mattresses, and even in some brushes. With that said, learn more about what is coir and its various uses and types below.
What Is Coir?
So, what is coir? Moreover, what is coir made of? Simply put, coir is the coconut’s natural fiber and is usually extracted from the coconut’s husk. It’s a durable material used throughout time to make materials such as fishnets, ropes, and rugs.
Coir is also called “The Golden Fiber” due to its golden hue once it’s been removed and cleaned from the husk. Many people are unaware of what is coir, but it’s been around for centuries. In fact, it’s known as the oldest type of fabric that has been used worldwide throughout history. From Greek sailors to Polynesian navigators, coir has kept both boats and fishermen alive for centuries.
In the 1800s, coir was even used to make fabric rugs and floorings. Additionally, coir is one of the humblest materials on the planet that has kept trade alive for many decades.
Aside from these, what is coir used for? Besides being used at home and in their livelihoods, coir was also utilized for geo-textiles. This helped prevent soil erosion and has been deployed in hillsides and river banks. While it’s not as soft or flexible as other materials used in clothing, it’s nonetheless perfect for rugs, mattresses, and upholstery because of coir’s unique properties. Nevertheless, recent innovations have made it possible to incorporate coir into our daily wear.
What is Coir - Different Types of Fibers
Now you know what is coir, let’s delve deeper into its different fiber types. Coir is usually divided into two types of fibers – white and brown fiber.
White Coir Fiber
Coir’s white fiber is made from young coconut husks that have been soaked in water for a maximum of ten months. The soaking process is usually done in rivers or a pit filled with water.
The plant tissues surrounding the fibers are broken up by micro-organisms, thereby loosening them. This process is called getting. Once it has been loosened, the segments are then beaten by hand to separate the fibers before being cleaned and dried. After it has been cleaned, it can then be spun into yarn.
Brown Coir Fiber
Another type is coir’s brown fiber. The process involved is almost the same with the white fiber, but their main difference lies in the fact that this type uses mature coconut husks.
With brown fibers, they are also softened by soaking the husks in water, but it has a few twists in the process. For example, the mature husks need to be soaked in slow-moving water instead of stagnant. This is to make the husk swell to loosen them up and soften.
Once softened, the shorter mattress fibers are separated from the long bristle fibers in a process called wet-milling. After this, the mattress fibers are cleaned by sifting.
Some fibers are thoroughly dried, while others have their moisture retained, so they’re more elastic when used in twisting. Twisting is a method where the coir is “twisted” by hand or machine to make a rope. It will undergo another process of cleaning and drying. Some of them are straightened by used steel combs. This process also removes the shorter fibers as well.
What Is Coir - Process and Extraction Method
Now you know what is coir, let’s discuss how it’s extracted? As mentioned, coir is extracted from the coconut husk, namely its outermost layer. To extract the coir’s fibers, the coconuts are soaked in water to soften and loosen them.
The process is naturally done too. The fibers are soaked in either saltwater or freshwater. Afterward, they are dried thoroughly for over a year.
However, the process involved has a slight variation, depending on the type of coir. For example, white coir made from young coconuts needs to be soaked for a maximum of ten months in salt water or water pits. In contrast, brown coir is made from mature coconuts. Since they are firmer, they need to be loosened in slow-moving water. Once the fibers have loosened up, they are dried thoroughly afterward. This process can take up to a year or more, depending on the manufacturer.
Coastal areas are the ones who thrive the most in this industry. Some of them also use machinery to meet the demand. The process can be different for this as well. If processed with machinery, the coconut husks are weighed and distributed over big water tanks. After being soaked for at least five days, they are run through the machine where the short and long fibers are separated.
What is Coir - Uses
So what is coir used for? Since coir is versatile, it can be used to make several items – from mats and rugs to apparel.
Coir fiber is resistant to saltwater, making it an excellent material for making fishnets and ropes used for fishing. It’s also a material that every boat will most likely have because of its durability.
Different types of coir will also have different uses. For example, white coir is used mainly to make mats and marine ropes. Some of them are even used as an alternative for peat moss.
On the other hand, brown coir is used mainly to make mattresses, brushes, sacks, rugs, and even doormats. It’s a good material for upholstery, and automobile companies have used it as cushioning for car seats.
When used as upholstery padding, the coir is formed into pads and then sprayed with latex to make rubberized coir. It’s also used for packaging and insulation purposes.
Types of Coir According to Use
There are different kinds of coir as well. Each type of coir is categorized into three, divided according to their most popular uses.
- Bristle Fiber - It is also known as the coarsest fiber of the three types. Bristle-types are used for making brushes.
- Yarn Fiber - Yarn fibers are used to make ropes, mats, and fishnets. Among the three, its strands are the finest and longest.
- Curled Fiber - This is a mixture of both yarn and bristles fiber. They are usually used in fishnets.
These three types of coir are also made using either white or brown coir. Some companies have also used brown coir as an erosion tool. They used brown coir to fill sacks near river banks and hills to prevent landslides. Brown coir has also been used to make floor tiles and for sacks.
Even the coir’s waste can be used. Once the fibers have been removed, the coir pith, or the remaining product, is used in agriculture and horticulture.
Using Coir in Apparel
Coir may be the most durable material, but it’s still not being widely used in apparel. However, more companies are starting to explore the idea. This is because fast fashion hasn’t been very friendly to the environment. The manufacturing process alone is contributing to global warming. Moreover, the products themselves are contributing to the plastic waste problem.
Using coir in apparel is made possible by mixing it with polyester. This fabric blend results in apparel that can offer UV protection while drying fast and keeping you cool at the same time. The most popular use for this is in sportswear, but it is slowly working its way to be used in other types as well.
What Is Coir - Advantages and Benefits
So, what is coir good for? For one, coir is a durable fiber that’s also eco-friendly. Aside from this, it also has other properties that make this fiber unique. Some of these qualities are:
- Resiliency - This fiber is one of the toughest fibers on the planet. It can go back to its original shape after being used. It’s also resilient because it cannot be affected by moisture. It’s also static-free and easy to clean.
- Durability- -This fiber is a flame-retardant, so it won’t easily combust. That’s how tough it is. It’s also resistant to fungi and moth, making it less susceptible to rotting.
- Sustainability - Additionally, coir is an eco-friendly material since it came from the same plant where we get coconut water and coconut meat. It’s also biodegradable, and even its waste can be used as fertilizer. It doesn’t hurt the planet, and it gives livelihood to many—a total win-win.
How to Take Care of Coir – Laundry Care
Now that you have a clearer idea of what coir is, you need to learn how to take proper care of it. Although it can withstand water, fire, and even harsh weather, cleaning coir can be difficult. This is because it often leaves stains and watermarks as well.
To clean coir, you will need to spot-clean it. You can do this by using a gentle soap bar. Wash it and work on the stained area. To remove the soap, use a wet cloth, preferably lint-free.
Slowly rub the cloth on the stain. Dampen the cloth now and then and repeat the whole process until the residue has been thoroughly removed. Let it dry before using again.
You can also deodorize them using cloth fresheners and spray. Store them away from other items as well. Make sure to separate them from your apparel and other clothes.
What is Coir – In Conclusion
Now that you know what is coir, you now understand that it’s one of the most sustainable materials on the planet that doesn’t sacrifice quality. Moreover, while different types are used for various products, most of them are incredibly valuable for home use. This fabric is the perfect choice if you’re looking for something that will last for a long time. Additionally, coir is also very versatile and can be used from mattresses to floor mats.
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