Letter | Published:

Felting of Animal Fibres

Nature volume 159, page 640 (10 May 1947) | Download Citation



WHEN a mass of loose wool or fur is rubbed in presence of an aqueous solution of acid or alkali, a felt is produced because the surface scale structure of the fibres causes them to migrate in the direction of their root ends. In the preparation of rabbit fur for felting, it is customary to treat the tip ends of the fibres, before the skin is cut away, with a solution of mercuric nitrate in nitric acid. The process, known as 'carroting', has the effect of enhancing the felting power of the fibres, and similar results can be obtained with other oxidizing agents, such as hydrogen peroxide, in presence of suitable catalysts. In all cases, the essential reaction is disulphide-bond breakdown, which was believed to be beneficial1 because the tip ends of rabbit fibres are coarser than the roots. After treatment, the tips of the fibres are much less resistant to deformation, with the result that they are able to follow the finer root ends through entanglements which would otherwise have obstructed further movement and felting.

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  1. 1.

    , J. Text. Inst., 32, T83 (1941).

  2. 2.

    , B.P. 453, 700.

  3. 3.

    and , J. Soc. Dyers and Col., 61, 286 (1945).

  4. 4.

    , J. Soc. Dyers and Col., 60, 325 (1944).

  5. 5.

    and , Trans. Farad. Soc., 35, 246 (1939). and , J. Soc. Dyers and Col., 60, 335 (1944).

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  1. Textile Chemistry Laboratory, Department of Textile Industries, University, Leeds. March 8.

    • J. MENKART
    •  & J. B. SPEAKMAN


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