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Cotton By-products

Cotton seeds are valuable by-products. The seeds are delinted by a similar process to ginning. Some linter is used to make candle wicks, string, cotton balls, cotton batting, paper, and cellulose products such as rayon, plastics, photographic film, and cellophane. The delinted seeds are crushed and the kernel is separated from the hull and squeezed. The cottonseed oil obtained from the kernels is used for cooking oil, shortening, soaps, and cosmetics. A semi-solid residue from the refining process is called soap stock or foots, and provides fatty acids for various industrial uses such as insulation materials, soaps, linoleum, oilcloth, waterproofing materials, and as a paint base. The hulls are used for fertilizer, plastics, and paper. A liquid made from the hulls called furfural is used in the chemical industry. The remaining mash is used for livestock feed.

See also Natural fibers.



Basra, Amarjit. Cotton Fibers: Developmental Biology, Quality Improvement, & Textile Processing. Food Products Press, 2001.

Jenkins, Johnie N., and Sukumar Saha, eds. Genetic Improvement of Cotton: Emerging Technologies. Science Publishers, Inc., 2001.

Lewington, Anna. Plants for People. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Stewart, J. M. Biotechnology in Cotton Research and Production. CABI Publishing, 2003.

Christine Miner Minderovic


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—The fruit of the cotton plant that holds the fiber and seeds.


—The main ingredient of plant tissue and fiber.

Cotton gin

—Machine (invented by Eli Whitney) that separates the cotton fiber from the seeds.


—The short, fuzzy fiber left on the seed after ginning.


—The lower part of the pistil where seeds develop.


—Small structures within the ovary that develop into seeds if fertilized.


—Fine powder made in the anthers of a flower that carries the male cells.


—Male reproductive organ of a flower that produces pollen.


—The part of the female organs of a plant flower (the pistil) upon which pollen lands in the first stage of fertilization.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Cosine to Cyano groupCotton - History, Cotton Plant, Growing, Harvesting, Processing, Processing, Cotton By-products - Harvesting