What is Linen Fiber? 7 Best Fiber Details

Let’s continue our series of understanding of Nature Fiber, in my previous blog, I have shared some knowledge about cotton classification. And today, I am going to discuss: What is Linen Fiber?

Before my explanation about Linen, I want to ask you one question: how many clothes or pants do you have in your wardrobe made of Linen? You can comment below, let’s see who has the most.

What is Linen Fiber?

Linen is a kind of bast fiber, it comes from the inner part of the plant. In the case of linen, that plant is flax. Linen is the term applied to the yarn spun from the flax fibers. It is also a cellulosic fiber and is more costly than cotton fiber. Because cotton is available in the form of fiber from nature and linen has to be extracted from bast.

What is Linen Fiber
Linen Fiber

Linen is a strong, durable absorbent fiber and dries much faster than cotton. In order to make you clear about Linen, I prepared 7 parts of knowledge:

  1. Origin of Linen Fiber
  2. Linen fiber structure
  3. Linen fiber Cultivation and Manufacturing
  4. Types of Linen
  5. Linen properties
  6. Advantages of linen fiber
  7. Application of Linen Fiber

ok, coming towards our first point:

Origin of Linen Fiber

Normally, the word “Linen” refers to a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, the history is accepted to be some of the oldest in the world. Linen was used in ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, They used to wear and mummify their dead. Dyed flax fibers were found in caves of present-day Georgia which may date back over 30,000 years.

Linen fiber should not be confused with bed linen, but they are connected somehow as in ancient times linen fibers had a close association with throws, bedsheets, and ropes.

In the eighteenth century with the invention of power spinning and the cotton gin, cotton started to replace linen as the widely used natural fiber. Before that, the two fibers which mostly used in clothing are Linen and Wool.

And for now, Linen has less share in the textile products compared with cotton.

Look, This graph is the natural fiber production of 2018, and cotton is the most produced nature fiber.

Bast fibers are the second most-produced nature fiber. The most known bast fibers are Flax, Ramie, Hemp, and Jute. These four fibers have almost the same properties and extraction method because they all come from the bast of the plant.

The difference is the plant from which they were extracted. Jute is somewhat noticeable because of the harsh nature of the fiber. But for hemp, ramie, and flax, It is very difficult to tell apart between them, especially at the fiber and fabric stage from visual appearance.

  1. Ramie
  2. Jute
  3. Hemp

According to statistics from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) the major flax fiber producer in Europe, it has 77% of the global share. Next in line are China (17.4%), Egypt (3.6%), Chile (1.25%) and Argentina (0.75%).

How Linen Fiber was made?

How was it made? Linen Fiber

Ok, the above is the basic introduction of Linen.

Now I will discuss my second point:

Linen Fiber Structure

Linen fibers are present in the stem of the plant in form of bundles of individual fibers, they are held together by gum. The length of fiber bundles ranges from 20 to 100 cm. look, The longitudinal view of flax fiber under the microscope is not like cotton. Fibers have no twisted structure, but longitudinal lines or grooves are present called nodes, the nodes are spaced irregularly along the length. Look, here are the nodes.

Structure of Linen Fiber
Structure of Linen Fiber

The chemical structure of linen contains cellulose, cellulose present in all plant-based nature fibers. Here is the Chemical composition of Linen, cellulose takes part in 74%.

Ok. Now I will talk about the cultivation and manufacturing of Linen fiber.

The flax plant is an annual crop, it grows in temperate and subtropical areas of the world, height as 4 feet. The life cycle of a flax plant starts in early spring and ends in mid-summer. The Planting will be done when the temperature of the soil is around 7–8 0C, and during the planting, there should be spacing between them, otherwise, it will cause branching of the stem and generally caused the lower height of flax fiber, which means shorter fibers.

Ideally, flax should be grown for approximately 107–110 days until the early-yellow stage of maturity. It happens when the bottom quarter part of the stem loses leaves and becomes yellow. The upper part of the stem is still green, but with a yellowish tone, and seed capsules are yellow with fully matured. It is the best time for flax harvesting with regard to fiber quality, as it affects fiber composition, the longer the plant grows the more increase happens in fiber stiffness.

The flax plant is harvested by pulling out the plant from the soil. It can be done by hand or with the use of a machine and laid down on the field. The flax plant is then collected and bundled together for drying purposes under sunlight. The process is called stocking. The next step is the removal of seed and leaves from the plant, and it can also be done by hand or machine. The top ends of the dry bundles of flax are pulled through nails hammered into a board, like a comb,  and the seeds extract is used as linseed oil for food and other applications.

Then the Next step in linen fiber manufacturing is most important and known as Retting. The gum present between the bundles of fiber is removed in this process by the use of bacteria. There are 5 methods of retting

  1. Dew Retting
  2. Water Retting
  3. Wooden vat Retting
  4. Chemical Retting
  5. Enzyme Retting

Once the fibers are loosened by retting, then the process of Breaking and Scutching is used to break up the inner woody stalk,  into smaller pieces so that it is separated from the linen fiber. For this purpose, rollers or wooden blades can be used.

The last step in the production of Linen Fiber is the hackle. Small fibers remain on the comb and are removed to make low-quality coarse fabrics. The hackled linen fiber is the finest fiber and can be used as high-quality linen products.

I think you have likely heard of different types of linen that are named after a specific country, such as Belgian linen, French linen, and Irish Linen.

But do you know, There are several types of Linen according to the weaving of fabric: let me tell you some of them:

1. Damask Linen: The name comes from the Syrian capital of Damascus. Damask linen is more delicate and has been compared to embroidery)

2. Plain-Woven Linen: Plain (1/1) durable weave used to produce apparel textiles

3. Loosely-Woven Linen: it is Highly absorbent and least durable used to produce reusable products

4. Sheeting Linen: No texture, soft surface, and close weave used in the textile industry.

For all the linen fabric products and samples, in the future part when I talk about fabrics, I will explain the details of each Linen fabric. So please subscribe to my channel, and don’t miss the important fabric knowledge.

And now I will discuss the properties of Linen Fiber.

1. Length of linen Fiber:

Different kind of linen has a different length, look at this table:

Fiber NameLength of Fiber
Flax0.5-15 cm
Hemp0.5–4 cm
Ramie13-15 cm
Jute0.16-0.25 cm
Length of different fiber

Moisture Regain:

Moisture Regain of linen is 12-14%. So it is very easy to wear garments made from linen

Morphological Structure of the linen fiber:

It has the same crystalline structure as cotton. Fibers have a round structure and have longitudinal nodes when seen under a microscope. These nodes provide the necessary strength to the fiber.

Physical Properties:

Including Strength, Elasticity, and Abrasion resistance.

The strength of Linen fiber before deformation is high because of its crystalline structure and nodes. The elasticity of linen is very poor because the linen fiber crystalline area is highly oriented/ or straight.

Abrasion resistance of linen fiber is moderate and the nodes present on the fiber surface cause the abrasion.

Fiber Chemical Properties

  • Effect Acids: Linen withstands weak acids,  but is attacked by hot dilute acids or cold concentrated acids.
  • Effect of alkali: Flax has good resistance to alkaline solution for large amounts of gum and waxes.

The dyeability of linen is moderate.

These properties benefit from the advantages which linen fiber gives. It is an environmentally friendly fiber. The Strength is high and can be made into a long-lasting garment. After multiple washes, the Stiffness of fiber dies down and soft feel around the skin. Linen fiber is more comfortable in warm weather.

Linen fiber has widely ranged across home textiles, apparel textiles, and industrial products. Such as bed and bath fabrics (tablecloths, bath towels, dish towels, bedsheets); home and commercial furnishing items (wallpaper/wall coverings, upholstery, window treatments); apparel items (suits, dresses, skirts, shirts); and industrial products (luggage, canvases, sewing thread).

Linen is one of the good friends of our life. So, Be get personal with linen.

Well guys I think you have known some knowledge about linen fiber. If you have any suggestions please leave comments below. And If I have missed something please tell me, because textile is a sea of knowledge, I cannot cover all things in this short time. And also if you like my content please thumps up,  it will give me some extra motivation to bring informative and professional knowledge for you. In my next video, I will tell you about viscose fabric.

Thanks for reading whole the blog. See you next time, bye.

Md Mahedi Hasan
Md Mahedi Hasan

About the author

This is Mahedi Hasan, a Textile Engineer, as well as a textile content writer, and web designer. My department is Apparel Engineering. I have studied in B.Sc. in Textile Engineering from Textile Engineering College, Noakhali (TECN). I am passionate about content writing. That's why I established this website to enhance my Textile Blogging skills.

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