Cotton probably isn’t something you think too much about from day to day. It’s really comfy to wear and sleep in, and it’s really handy in the manufacturing of bathroom and beauty products. But the cotton production process is actually surprisingly complex! It’s also got a really varied history, and the cotton plant itself might actually be a fruit bearer – believe that or not if you will!
In this file, we are going to take a close look at cotton as a natural resource and material. We’ll consider its past, its present, and everywhere it is currently useful! Be grateful for the cotton on your back and in your ears – it’s gone through a lot. Here are some interesting facts about cotton which might just surprise you about the way it is produced, and why it is still so awesome.
Cotton production is extremely waste-efficient. Believe it or not, none of the cotton plant is wasted during harvesting or during any form of production!
Cotton is widely produced all over the planet and is thought to help keep more than 100 million people in business!
That means everyone from harvesters to transport staff and even marketing teams have parts to play. Cotton is very big business.
The cotton plant also produces cottonseed oil, as well as seeds which can be used to feed livestock.
It’s also possible to replant cotton plant stalks, too, which can be placed in the soil for future fertilisation.
It can take roughly six months, on average, for cotton plants to fully mature. This means that you will generally plant them each spring and harvest them by the autumn.
Believe it or not, there is evidence that cotton seeds were being used all the way back in 450 BC! They were discovered in Peru.
However, there is some evidence that cotton may have been used even further back. It’s thought to have been a common fibre in production and manufacture for more than 5,000 years.
The vast majority of cotton grown in the world today is called upland cotton. This is a great yarn producing cotton, though it is not considered the finest by any means!
Many people love to invest in Egyptian cotton, in particular. This is because it can grow very long – more than 1.7 inches – and then it spins really softly to make yarn.
Cotton isn’t just grown in Egypt or Peru. You’ll also find it grown across the US! It’s grown in the south of America, in states such as California, too.
Cotton isn’t actually white, or even colour absorbent. It’s actually brownish or tan in colour when harvested!
To make cotton white or absorbent, its natural waxes are generally removed during the process.
Cotton plants can generally take up to 200 days to grow. Good things come to those who wait, as they say!
Cotton plants actually bear fruit. As mentioned, they create seeds, but they do also pop out bolls, too.
A fruit plant definition is ‘greenery that contains seed’. The cotton plant certainly fits the bill!
Believe it or not, cotton actually gets stronger the wetter you get it. There are plenty of fibres out there which fail to retain their strength if soaked. It’s one great reason why cotton is so popular in clothing as well as in bedding.
Cotton is impressively absorbent to the point where you can soak it at 30 times its initial weight and it will still bear up!
It’s common for cotton to measure in ‘bales’ in the US. This is roughly 227kg or 500lbs in weight.
Cotton was once used by Thomas Edison during his initial design and build of the light bulb! The original filaments, believe it or not, were made of cotton. Time has moved on since then!
Contrary to popular belief, nappies are not made from cotton. It’s their absorbent nature which gives them a cotton-like effect.
The word ‘cotton’ derives from ‘qutun’ in Arabic. This used to generally mean linen. It first emerged in English only 800 or so years ago!
Weirdly, the cotton plant is perhaps one of the most complex growths. That is, when you look at its DNA. It’s got around 26 pairs of chromosomes. This is double what cotton plants used to possess in the wild!
There’s likely more produced from cotton than you imagine or assume. For example, both canvas and denim are based around cotton fibres!
Believe it or not, Euro notes are made out of cotton fibres, too. This is thought to help them last longer.
What’s really weird is that cotton is actually on the moon. The Chinese space mission Chang’e 4 found that cotton sprouted from their seeds planted there back in 2019. They’ve since harvested the seeds.
Cotton doesn’t just come in pure white or tan. You can actually find green, pink, and brown fibres, too.
There’s no such thing as cotton gin. At least, it’s not what you expect. A cotton gin is a cotton engine – it helps to separate the material.
Cotton is a fantastic heat conductor. This is why it’s great for wrapping up in when cold.
Cotton is also hypoallergenic. This means that it won’t trigger off any nasty sneezes.
It is possible to obtain organic cotton. Traditionally, cotton is farmed with a variety of pesticides and chemicals to help ward off bugs and annoying critters.
Cotton is, surprise surprise, inedible. What’s more, it contains a nasty chemical compound called gossypol. This is toxic to consume – though you won’t find it in any cotton buds, balls, or other everyday cotton material, so don’t worry.
The country producing the most cotton is India. They produce around 5.77 million tons each year.
The US produces 3.9 million tons of cotton each year. China produces 3.5 million tons, and Brazil produces 2.78 million tons.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about cotton that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!