How is kapok fiber made?
The steps involved in the production of Kapok are as follows:
• A mature kapok tree produces about 500 to 4000 seed pods, the seed pods are 10-40cm long and 3-5cm thick.
• When ripened, the seedpods open up exposing the loosely embedded yellowish-brown, lightweight and lustrous fibers. The seedpods are harvested by hand i.e. either they are cut down or gathered from the ground.
• The closed seedpods are then opened by beating the hard husk covering against the bamboo sticks or mallet and thus fibers are obtained.
• The fibers so obtained have seed attached to them which are then separated by filtering them through a device that has a sieve-like structure that helps clean the fibers from pod debris, dry leaves and other residual material that may be present.
• The seeds obtained may be processed to obtain oil for making soap, and the residue is used as fertilizer and cattle feed.
• The fibers so obtained are about 0.8 to 3.2cm long and have a diameter of about 30 to 36cm.
• The fibers are then sun-dried and packed in the form of bales. These bales are sent to the yarn manufacturers to be processed into fibers. However, since the kapok fibers are short in length and low cohesion property, they are either blended with natural fibers such as cotton, flax, jute, etc.