What is Jute? Jute is regarded as one of the most eco-friendly natural fibers in the world. It is also commonly ranked behind cotton as the best natural fiber overall. But there's a good chance you only just found out about jute. What is Jute and why isn't it as popular as cotton? In this article, we'll take a closer look at jute fabric, its uses, characteristics, and history.
What is Jute?
Jute is a long, soft natural fiber that is derived from a plant. The plant can be spun into strong, coarse threads that are used to make several textile materials. It is usually grown in tropical countries like Bangladesh and India. Its growing locations explain why jute isn't as popular as it should be in Western countries.
Jute is sturdy, biodegradable, and easy to produce. The production of jute fiber does not require as much water as other natural fibers like cotton. This cements its place as one of the most eco-friendly plant-based fibers.
This natural fabric is quite versatile and can be used to make curtains, shopping bags, handmade rigs, sacks, and fabric. While it is not very popular outside of tropical countries, jute is India's primary textile fiber. The plant can grow as high as 10 feet making it one of the longest plant-based textile fibers. The plant is grown in similar conditions as rice grains and requires a lot of rainfall to grow.
What is Jute - History
Jute has been grown for textile use in India for the past 5000yrs. Its origins date back to 3000 BC. Although India produced other natural fibers like cotton at the time, jute was the country's major textile fiber. Production continued to flourish even after European colonization came to the fore.
The plant would later become a major cash crop that helped fund the British colonial movement. At the time, full-scale production of the plant fiber was also going on in Scotland. However, the market in India was way bigger. This led to many producers emigrating to India to get a piece of the pie. It continued to be a major part of India's economy even after the British left.
By the 20th century, however, the demand for jute fiber reduced drastically as synthetic fibers took over the market. But natural fibers were back in demand again in the early 21st century and jute was once again a powerful sector of the economy.
What is Jute - Characteristics
The following are the notable characteristics of jute:
- It is biodegradable and can be recycled, which makes it eco-friendly.
- The fibers are coarse, strong, and organic.
- In terms of production, usage, availability, and global consumption, it is only behind cotton as the most important natural fiber.
- It is an immensely versatile fiber and can be used in packaging, agriculture, textile, and non-textile industries.
- Jute has a silky and golden shine. This is why it's referred to as the "Golden Fiber."
What is Jute - Production
This plant-based fiber thrives under a warm, humid temperature with lots of rainfall and drained loamy soil. As earlier mentioned, it doesn't require fertilizers or pesticides. They are harvested as stems from the plant and subjected to a process called retting. This involves soaking the stems in slow-running water for around 10 to 30 days. This is done to allow bacteria to dissolves the gummy substance that holds the fibers together.
When retting is completed, the non-fiber part of the stem is scrapped off. This process is called stripping. After stripping, the stem is beaten with a paddle to separate the fibers. The fibers that have been separated are washed, dried, and finally graded before they are sent to jute mills. The yarn is what's used to produce the various products.
What is Jute - Types
There were certain types of jute that were once quite popular, but as time went by, their importance dwindled and other types rose above them.
The following are the different types of jute currently available:
- White Jute: You can tell by the name that this type of jute is brighter in color than the others. However, this type is less durable than many others.
- Tossa Jute: Tossa is the most popular type of jute in recent times. It is a brown shade, with long and strong fibers.
- Mesta Jute: This type of fiber is a combination of white jute and Tossa jute.
- Jute Cuttings: These might seem like a waste at first sight, but they can be very useful for making rudimental textiles.
what is Jute - Environmental Impact
Unlike many other plant fibers, the jute plant adds environmental benefits to the soil. The plant returns nutrients to keep the soil nourished and moist. Because it is biodegradable, it does not damage the environment, hence it's called an eco-friendly fiber.
What is Jute Used for?
As earlier mentioned, jute is highly versatile. It is the reason why it has been able to stand side by side with other natural fibers in the textile industry.
What is Jute Used For:
- Storage Sacks: Because of its heat and sound insulation trait, this fiber is used to make sack bags for bagging cotton, storing commodities, and transporting a large range of products from one location to another.
- Household Items: Many people are only familiar with jute as the lining for rugs. This indeed is just one of the few household use of this jute. In recent times, this versatile fiber has been used to produce fine curtains and tablecloths to beautify both offices and homes.
- Furniture: This fiber has become even more popular in furniture production. Furniture made from it is proven to last longer without any routine maintenance. It is invulnerable to water damage and the vintage look it gives your home or drawing space is just spectacular.
- Pulp and Paper: These days, high-quality pulp and paper are now produced from jute fiber as the destruction of forest for wood pulp has become prolific. This development has made jute a lot more popular.
- Geotextile: Jute has become very popular in the agricultural sector. Geotextile is a lightweight fabric made from jute and other natural fibers. It is used as a protective lining for soil erosion control, weed control, seed protection, and many other agricultural purposes.
- Fashion Pieces: Do you own a tote bag? It's most likely made of jute fibers. It is also really popular for making fashionable tote bags that could be beach stunners any day. Most people prefer jute bags to linen as this plain or printed blend doesn't easily rumple as easily. Take a peek in your wardrobe, you'll be surprised you've had a jute bag all along.
- Skincare Products: Remember when I said this natural plant fiber was versatile? Oh yes! The many uses of jute which also includes skincare properties can not be overemphasized. The oil extract from the jute seed can be used to make beauty soap that reveals a healthier-looking skin tone.
What is Jute - Care Instructions
Handwashing is the best way to clean your bag, sofa, bed, rug, or curtains made from jute. This fabric can be fragile, so it is important to be careful while cleaning it. Wash with lukewarm water while handling gently.
There is absolutely no need to squeeze the fabric when it is wet, as it may damage the fibers. Don't wash your jute with other fabrics because it will shed, and the fibers can be difficult to remove from clothes.
If you must iron jute, make sure the item is damp while ironing and iron on the inside or wrong side. It is also important to note that harsh heat can damage jute's original color. So, iron with low heat and dry under moderate conditions.
What is Jute - In Conclusion
Jute is making waves in many manufacturing and other industries today. Its versatility makes it relevant in almost every sphere of life. One interesting thing about this golden plant as it is popularly called is that it is easy to produce. it is also relatably cheaper than most synthetic and plant fibers.
Be it furniture, home decor, fashion pieces, health, or even agricultural use, this fiber comes in handy, and the end product is always worth every penny spent. Your home and workspace would look better with one or two pieces of furniture made from jute.
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