Mercerizing

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Mercerizing'

Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Mercerizing'


Mercerisation is a treatment for cotton fabric and thread that gives fabric a lustrous appearance. The process is applied to materials like cotton or hemp.

The process was devised in 1844 by John Mercer of Great Harwood, Lancashire, England, Great Grandfather of David Mercer, who treated cotton fibres with sodium hydroxide. The treatment caused the fibres to swell, which in Mercer's version of the process shrank the overall fabric size and made it stronger and easier to dye. The process did not become popular, however, until H. A. Lowe improved it into its modern form in 1890. By holding the cotton during treatment to prevent it from shrinking, Lowe found that the fibre gained a lustrous appearance.

The modern production method for mercerised cotton, also known as "pearl" or "pearle" cotton, gives cotton thread (or cotton-covered thread with a polyester core) a sodium hydroxide bath that is then neutralized with an acid bath. This treatment increases lustre, strength, affinity to dye, resistance to mildew, but also increases affinity to lint. Cotton with long staple fibre lengths responds best to mercerisation. Mercerised thread is commonly used to produce fine crochet.

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