Sunday, August 11, 2019



The linen fibre is a natural fibre ( vegetable fibre). Since this fibre is obtained from the stalk of the flax plant, therefore this fibre is also known as flax fibre. It is a cellulosic fibre. The linen fibre provides extra coolness and freshness during hot weather to the users. Linen fibre is being used by humans as a textile fibre since the oldest period of time. 

The various types of textiles were found in 8000 BC in Swiss lake dwellings. The dyed flax fibres have been found in the cave of Georgia, which belong to 3600BC.

The linen fibre was also used in the form of currency in ancient Egypt. 

Today, linen is a very expensive textile fibre. It is four to five times more expensive than cotton. This fibre is produced in small quantities. The linen fibre has very good absorbency and durability. “Its durability, low specific gravity and breathability make it popular and ideal fibre for suiting and shirting”. Since linen fibre has very low elongation and elasticity so that spinning and weaving of linen fibre is too difficult and more expensive than cotton. The linen yarn is spun by the wet spinning method. 


Chemical composition of flax fibre is given in below table:





Climatic Conditions:

The flax plant is grown in warm and humid climatic conditions. It needs good soil to grow properly. The quality of flax produced depends on the weather conditions in which it is grown. Flax plants can adapt themselves to different weathers, various kinds of soils and the atmosphere. The flax plant can grow in any humid climate. “Proper growing of flax plant demands a temperature, equable climate (free from heavy rain). The frost and moist winds help to grow the plant sometime”. The relative humidity should be within the range of 60%-70% in flax growing areas. 150m.m.-200m.m. rain is considered ideal for flax growing areas.


The soil which is considered as the best adapted to flax culture is a sound, dry, deep, friable loam ( a soil having sand, clay and fossils of the dead plants). This soil helps to produce the best quality flax fibres and seeds and maximizes flax production in all respects.

About plant:

One heavily branched fine stem

Averages 24-36” tall

Tap root up to 40” long

Lanceloate leaves

Deep green



Cultivation of flax plant:

Cultivated flax (Linum usitatissimum) is an annual crop of temperate ( neither very hot nor very cold) climates. It is specially grown in northern  Europe. “Separate varieties are grown either for the fibre or for the seeds that are used in linseed oil production”.
When the seeds are sown in the field. The flax plant height reaches one metre approximately after 3 - 4 months. Now the pale blue colour flowers begin to appear on the stems of the plant. The whole plant is pulled from the soil after flowering. This practice helps to maximize the length of the flax fibres.

Linen fibre production:

After pulling the stems from the ground, stems are collected in the field. In the traditional process, the pulled stems of the flax plant are tied into bundles and are hung out to dry. When these stems get dried enough, these stems are combed with a  rippling rake to remove the seed pods. The stems are now ready for retting.

 The retting is done either by laying the bundles in a damp field for two weeks approximately,  where they ret in the dew, or by leaving them in stationary water ( pond) for a few days.
The retted stems are now washed and dried thoroughly again. These washed and dried flax stems are broken with the help of a flax brake. The broken stems are now cleaned through the scutching process.  The fibres are then combed on hackles to produce long line fibres that can be spun, called line flax. The short fibres are eliminated after combing.  These short fibres are used to spin coarse count yarn.

Retting of linen fibres:

“The process of loosening of the fibres from the stalk of the plant is known as retting process”. There are two types of retting methods used. Such methods are:

Natural retting :

The flax fibres bind together in the plant's stalk due to pectin presenting in it. The loosening of fibres is required before fibres separation. In this method of natural retting,  the bacteria are used to decompose the pectin. “Natural retting process is carried out in water tanks, pools, or directly in the fields”.  The stem's bundles are left for a couple of weeks in dew, pool or tank in contact with water.  After a couple of weeks, the bacterias present in water decompose the pectin of the plant's stems and fibres are loosened from the stalk. Now bundles are taken out. Retted stems are washed with clean water and dried well before the next process.

Chemical retting:

This method of retting is faster than natural retting, but “it is typically more harmful to the environment and to the fibres themselves”.


Physical properties of linen fibres are given below:

Tensile Strength:

The linen fibre has very good tensile strength. It has a tenacity of 5.5 to 6.5 grams/denier. This is greater than cotton fibre.

Elongation at break:

The linen fibre shows very poor elongation. It does not get elongated easily. It has an elongation of 2.7% - 3.5% at break. The low elongation characteristic creates many problems in spinning and weaving. 


The colour of the linen fibre looks yellowish to grey ( almost khaki colour)

Fibre length:

The linen fibres have a long length. The linen fibre length varies between the range of 18 inches to 30 inches.

Lustre or seen of linen fibre:

The lustre ( seen) of the linen fibre looks brighter than cotton fibre and it has a slightly silky appearance. 

Specific Gravity:

The specific gravity of linen fibre is 1.50 grams/cc. This is lighter than cotton.

Moisture content:

The standard moisture content of linen is 12%. The moisture content is greater than cotton

Effect of Heat:

The linen fibre has a very good resistance to degradation by heat. It gets less affected than cotton fibre by the heat.

Effect of Sun Light:

The linen fibre does not get affected by the sunlight as others fibre. It has enough ability to protect sunlight.

The linen is a natural cellulosic fibre. The chemical properties of the linen fibre are given below:

Effect of Acids:

The linen fibre gets decomposed when it comes in contact with concentrated sulphuric acids. It remains unaffected when it comes in contact with diluted sulphuric acids.

Effects of Alkalis:

Linen fibre shows very good resistance to alkalis. It remains completely unaffected when it comes in contact with strong alkalis too. 

Effects of Bleaching Agents:

The cold chlorine and hypo-chlorine bleaching agent do not influence the linen fibre properties.

Effect of Organic Solvent:

The linen fibre shows high resistance to normal cleaning solvents.

Effect of Micro Organism:

Linen fibre is affected by fungi and bacteria. Mildews can feed on linen fabric, rotting and weakling the materials. Mildews and bacteria will generate on linen under hot and humid conditions. The mildews generation can be prevented by treatment of material with antimicrobial agents. 


Some common uses of linen fibre are being given below:








children's wear etc.


- Linen clothes shows high air permeability and provide good air ventilation to the skin which is invaluable for people suffering from skin diseases.

- The possibility of ironing linen fabrics with a hot iron helps to obtain a high degree of elimination ( less than 40 per cent of the micro- bacterias remains on the surface).
- The flax fibre has high electrical conductivity, this characteristic helps to prevent electrostatic charge accumulation.  

- The high electrical conductivity of flax fibre helps to prevent dirt and dust contamination in it. This characteristic helps to reduce the washing frequency of the fabric. Thus the life of the fabric gets increased.

- The linen fibre has great moisture content. Flax fibres show a highly hygroscopic nature. They can absorb moisture rapidly (up to 20 per cent of its dry weight) without feeling damp. The linen cloth always gives a fresh feel and cool touch.

- The linen fabric protects our skin from ultraviolet radiation”. The dense and white linen fabrics refuse to absorb the maximum spectrum of solar radiation (including the harmful ultraviolet radiation). Thus it keeps our skin safe from ultraviolet radiation.

- The linen fabric has good strength and durability.

- The linen is the strongest fibre among the vegetable fibres. This is 2 to 3 times more strong than cotton.

- The fibres do not get elongated and are resistant to damage from abrasion.

- The linen fabrics have very good dimensional stability after washing. 

Please click on the below video link to watch the full article in Hindi:

Poly lactic acid or poly lactide fibre production process

Yarn count or yarn fineness & various types of yarn COUNT systems

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