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Flax

Seed Flax

Seed flax grows best in a warm climate, but hot temperatures and drought can reduce the crop yield and oil content. The soil should be fertile and well weeded. To obtain the seed, the flax plants are allowed to over-ripen, which destroys the plant's value for its fiber as linen. Flax seed contains about 40% oil, and the seeds are crushed and pressed to remove this product. Linseed oil, which hardens by oxidation, is used to manufacture paints, varnishes, patent leather, linoleum, and oilcloth.

The remaining seed and hull wastes after pressing are used for livestock feed. Fiber can also be obtained from seed flax plants. This fiber is made into special papers.

See also Natural fibers.


Resources

Books

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

Periodicals

Akin, D.E. "Enzyme-Retting of Flax and Characterization of Processed Fibers." Journal Of Biotechnology 89, no. 2-3 (2001): 193-203.

"Nontraditionally Retted Flax for Dry Cotton Blend Spinning." Textiler Research Journal 71, no. 5 (2001): 375-380.


Christine Miner Minderovic

KEY TERMS

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Hackling

—A combing procedure to straighten flax fibers.

Linen

—Thread or cloth made from the long fibers of the flax plant.

Linseed oil

—Oil obtained from the seeds of the flax plant.

Retting

—A process whereby flax plants are moistened, allowing the stem covering to rot, and to break down the substances that hold the fiber together.

Rippling

—A manual method of removing seed pods from the flax stalks, by drawing the stalks through combs.

Scutching

—A process in which the flax fiber is beaten, separating it from the stem.

Shives

—Small pieces of flax stem obtained after putting the retted straw through a machine called a flax brake, which crushes the woody part of the stem without damaging the fiber.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Ferroelectric materials to Form and matterFlax - Fiber Flax, Seed Flax