Tag Archives: cotton

Cotton gin

A Brief History of the Cotton Gin

Cotton gin

Planters and farmers in the late 1700s were struggling with ways to increase cotton production. Picking cotton was extremely labor intensive. Not only was it difficult, back-breaking work for the laborers, but production was slowed by the fact that it took such a long time to separate by hand the seedpods and the seeds from the cotton. One worker could only produce one pound a day of clean, deseeded cotton. This just wasn’t fast enough to keep up with the production needed.

Having heard of the woes the growers faced, a young Eli Whitney who had recently graduated from Yale University and was tutoring on a Georgia plantation decided he would try his hand at improving the cotton picking process. Eli Whitney was born in Westborough, Massachusetts in 1765. Early on in his life he took a keen interest in machinery.

Whitney’s father owned a woodworking shop. Whitney could often be found here taking apart clocks and pocket watches and then putting them back together again. By the age of fourteen, he had started his own nail and pin making business.

With his strong interest in machinery and mechanics, Eli Whitney began to experiment in 1792 to find a solution to help solve the cotton growers’ problems. In 1793 he arrived at the basic design of the cotton gin. The machine he made features a wooden cylinder with spikes that comb debris out from the cotton fibers. Whitney’s machine could clean 50 pounds of cotton a day. The cotton gin hugely impacted the cotton industry.

To give an idea of the significance of the cotton gin’s impact, in 1792 before the cotton gin was invented, 180,000 pounds of cotton were produced. By 1794, just a year after the cotton gin was in use, cotton production increased to 6 million pounds. The cotton gin created quite a dramatic increase.

It no took hundreds of man hours needed to clean newly picked cotton. The cotton cleaning process could now be fully automated thanks to Eli Whitney’s invention which revolutionized the cotton industry. The Southern states where cotton farming was a primary source of revenue found that the cotton gin made cotton production very profitable.

Due to the increased supply of cotton that was produced, the price of cotton cloth dropped substantially, making it much more affordable to the masses. Prior to the invention of the cotton gin, cotton cloth had been very expensive and thus not available to the masses. The cotton gin changed all this. Manufacturing boomed in the Northeastern United States as factories took the Southern grown cotton and converted it to cloth. Many fortunes were made as a result of the invention of the cotton gin.

Unfortunately for Eli Whitney, his luck at profiting from his invention was not as good. Whitney was unable to get an exclusive patent on his cotton gin until 1802, which was several years after his invention came to be used. By this time many imitators had entered into the marketplace and created their own versions of the cotton gin.


How Cotton is Grown


Cotton is grown around the world in approximately eighty countries. It’s interesting to learn just how cotton is grown. There are two primary methods for growing cotton, the no-till method or the tilling method. The no-till method is also referred to conservation tillage, as it helps to preserve the integrity of the land by preventing erosion.

Planning is required before cotton is grown. Careful thought and consideration should be given to the land selected for planting to increase chances for a successful crop. An irrigation plan needs to be in place. Seed and equipment need to be ready for planting.

The no-till method allows cotton seeds to be planted right through the litter atop the soil by using special farm equipment designed just for this purpose. The machines that plant the cotton are called planters. Specially designed ones make no till planting possible.

With the traditional tilling or plowing method, the farmer tills the carefully chosen land. When plowing the land, mounded rows are created that the seeds are deposited into. The problem with tilling the soil is that it leads to further soil erosion, which takes its toll on the environment over time.

The time to plant cotton varies depending on the planting zone the farmer lives in.
Cotton should be planted as early as possible in spring, but no sooner than the last chance of frost has passed.  Cotton should not be planted before the ground has started to warm up. As cotton has a long growing season, but needs sunny days to thrive, it is best to try to plant as early as possible.

Once the soil is prepared, the seeding is done with man made mechanical planters. These machines which are how cotton is grown can seed as many as 10 to 24 rows at a time.  Machinery like this saves the farmer much time and helps to increase cotton production.

The way that cotton is grown is that the machine planter creates a narrow trench in every row. The seed is dropped into the trench and covered back up with soil which is packed down by the planter. Seeds are spaced in a uniform fashion either clumped or placed individually.

Seedlings begin to appear typically about five days after planting has taken place. In about 2 months’ time, flower buds should begin to appear on the cotton plants. Approximately three weeks later, the blossoms should start to open up. At this time the flower petals begin to change color from a creamy white to yellow, then to pink and finally to dark red. After three days of remaining red, they will shrivel up and fall off, leaving behind green pods which are known as bolls.

Within each boll, the cotton fibers grow and push their way out. As the boll gets ready to be close to ripening, it turns brown. Eventually the expanding fibers break the boll apart and the cotton candy looking cotton comes bursting out. The crop is harvested by picking machines in the United States.

For more information on cotton visit:

image credit: flydime

Cotton Absorbency – How Does it Compare to Other Fabrics

Cotton is by far one of the most absorbent textiles ever produced. It can hold many times its weight in water. In fact, it is used in the fabrication of not only clothes, but other products that are used to absorb liquid, more so than any other material. It is the fibers that make up cotton that causes it to absorb water. Natural fabrics tend to be much more absorbent and more comfortable than synthetic fabrics. The looseness of the fibers of the natural fabric also allow for it to be more breathable, making it a better choice for your skin.

Cotton is much more absorbent than many other fabrics because of its molecular structure. The arrangement of the molecules in cotton creates an abundance of places for water to be attracted to. Other fabrics, especially synthetic ones, have fewer places for water molecules to bond to, therefore even though other fabrics will attract and hold some water, they do not have the capacity to absorb like cotton fibers.

Cotton is better than almost all fabrics at absorbency, although other natural fabrics like linen and wool are also absorbent. Nylon, polyester and acrylic are poor in terms of absorbency. They do not absorb moisture and are uncomfortable to wear when you get wet. Acetate, rayon and the newest fabric, lyocell, which is referred to as a rayon subcategory, all have good absorbency. Some of the literature on lyocell claims that it is even more absorbent than cotton.

If you are looking for an item of clothing that will absorb sweat from your body allowing you to stay cool and comfortable while exercising or in hot weather, cotton is a good choice. Some synthetic fabrics are likely to dry quickly and as thus are touted as good choices for layers while exercising. However, these clothes do not let your skin breathe properly and you run the risk of fungal infections and the like. If you are looking for softness, absorbency and the ability to breathe in your fabric of choice, natural cotton is definitely the way to go.

Does Chemicals Or Dye On Cotton Rub Off On Your Skin From Your Clothes?

Cotton is the most popular natural fabric. It is used in a variety of different items because it is so versatile and yet so comfortable. However, people are becoming increasingly concerned with keeping themselves away from things that are not completely all natural. There is even a concern about chemicals or dye on cotton rubbing off onto your skin from your clothes. Yet, does it really occur?

Typically you do not have to worry about dye transferring from your clothes to your skin. The only time is tends to is if the dye process was poorly done, as in the case of a very cheap item. Some very bright or dark colors may transfer a small amount of dye if they are not washed before they are first worn. Therefore it is very important to wash new clothes before wearing them.

Chemicals can and do transfer from cotton to your skin. Skin irritations and allergies are proof that chemicals transfer from cotton to your skin. Those who have sensitivities to certain soaps and fabric softeners suffer from breakouts and irritations when their cotton clothes is washed using these products because the chemicals that bother them rub off on their skin. Some people also find their skin is irritated if they wear a new item of clothing before washing it. This is typically because of some residual chemical used during production and another good reason to wash new clothes before wearing them.

Luckily there are several options that you have, if you are concerned about chemicals or dye rubbing off on your skin from your clothes. First, be sure to wash all new items before wearing them. Second, wash them using a mild and pure soap that is low in chemicals and does not have any additives like dyes, perfumes or fabric softeners. Third, do not use bleach on your clothes, it is a very harsh chemical and can be very irritating. Fourth, stop using fabric softener, because the way it makes clothes soft and static free is by coating the fibers of the material in chemicals.

If you truly want to avoid chemicals and dye in your cotton clothes, you can always opt for organic cotton as an excellent alternative. This type of cotton is grown without pesticides and other chemicals. It even grows in different naturally occurring colors and therefore you can get a variety of colors without the use of dyes at all.

If chemicals and dyes on your cotton clothes concern you, replace your T-shirt wardrobe with a variety of custom-made organic cotton T-shirts. You don’t need to give up cute tees in great designs and styles just because you are choosing organic. You can choose the natural colors you want in the styles you want. Then you can choose to have anything you want printed on the custom tees. You can flaunt the fact that you have chosen an organic tee, support a cause, make a clever remark or a silly one. The choice of how to personalize a T-shirt is endless.

Get your custom-made organic cotton T-shirts today and never again worry about the chemicals and dyes from regular cotton.

How the Cotton Gin Works

The cotton gin which was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793 was a revolutionary machine.
The term gin comes from the abbreviation for the word engine. The cotton gin changed the entire cotton growing industry. Prior to the cotton gin’s invention, workers had to pick out seed pods and seeds from the cotton by hand. This method was extremely tedious and unproductive. Each worker was only able to produce one pound of clean cotton a day this way.

Once the cotton gin came into service, production increased dramatically. A cotton gin could produce 55 pounds of clean cotton a day or 55 times that of a human worker. Such a dramatic increase in production had a huge impact on the industry, making cotton much more profitable to grow.

The cotton gin is actually a pretty simple machine. Cotton grows in what are known as bolls. First the cotton bolls are fed into the top of the machine. Inside the cotton gin there is a rotating wooden roller that has small spiky wire teeth hammered into it. The wooden cylinder is rotated by cranking it. When the cylinder rotates, the teeth snare the cotton fibers of the boll and pull the fiber strands through a grate. The slots in this grate are set too close together for cotton seeds to pass through. The fibers are stripped away from the seeds. Basically, the seeds are combed out of the cotton.

Cotton production rose significantly thanks to the cotton gin. In 1792 180,000 pounds of cotton were produced. Just two years later 6 million pounds were produced, thanks to the cotton gin. Eventually there came to be water and horse powered versions of the cotton gin which increased cotton yield even further.

Cotton cloth had been very expensive before the invention of the cotton gin. Afterwards, cotton cloth became the top selling textile in the world. Cotton was affordable and became the number one cash crop in the United States. The cotton gin really helped to change our nation, and the world, as it encouraged more cotton growth down South and factory growth in the Northeast and England.

Unfortunately Eli Whitney was not able to patent his design for several years after his initial invention. Many copied his design, resulting in Whitney not profiting from the cotton gin nearly as much as he could have. Planters bought gins to process cotton grown on the plantation. Factories were created to house gins and process the cotton.

Modern day cotton gins still operate with the same basic concept that Eli Whitney devised. However, additional services have been added to the original cotton gin design. Now gins can dry the cotton, moisturize it, sort it, clean it and bale it into bundles, getting the cotton completely ready for sale.

These steps have expedited the cotton trade for the modern grower. Nowadays the cotton gin is a one stop shop for cotton processing. Thanks to electric power and high velocity air blasting, fully automated modern cotton gins are able to produce 15 tons of cleaned cotton per hour.

A Very Brief History of Cotton

The history of cotton is ancient. Cotton has been grown for thousands of years. There is documentation that cotton was growing on the Earth before Christ was born.  Historians have been able to determine that cotton was growing on the Earth at least seven thousand years ago. The oldest location cotton has been found was in Mexico. Inside an ancient cave there were tiny bits of cotton bolls and of cotton cloth.

The history of cotton dates back to around 3000 BC in Pakistan. Archaeologists unearthed tiny cotton fragments there on digs. Historical documents from India mention cotton in writings dating as far back as 1500 BC.  The consensus for some time seems to have been that the cultivation of cotton began in India. As mentioned earlier, cotton has been found in other parts of the world, dating further back, but those areas are believed to have been sightings of wild cotton. Cotton does grow wild in some parts of the world.

The history of cotton in the United States dates back to the American Indians. There is documentation as far back as the 1500’s and the Coronado expedition to America that speaks of cotton crops. In 1556 Spanish settlers raised a crop of cotton in Florida. In 1607 the first cotton seed was planted by colonists along the James River in Virginia.

In the early 1700’s, it was against the law, to either import or manufacture cloth from cotton in England. This was during the height of the British Empire.  This law was put into effect to help protect the English wool industry.

While American colonists knew how to grow cotton, they lacked what they needed mechanically to maximize production. In 1790 Samuel Slater came to America. Slater had been a cotton mill worker in England. Upon his arrival, Slater constructed the first American cotton mill strictly from his memory of the mill he worked at back in England.

The cotton mill was a move in the right direction, but cotton was still so slow to clean. Production was limited as a result. Eli Whitney recognized this fact and saw a desperate need for a better way beyond hand cleaning to remove the cotton fibers from the seed.  In 1793, he invented the cotton gin. This invention sped up the separation process of removing the cotton from the seed so dramatically that it revolutionized the industry.

Prior to the cotton gin being invented, only one pound could be cleaned per day per worker. A cotton gin could clean 55 pounds of cotton per day. This increase in cotton production completely revolutionized the cotton industry worldwide and is easily one of the most important contributions to the history of cotton.
In 1850 an automated picking machine was invented. Shortly afterwards a stripper machine that could remove bolls and other trash from the plant before picking was introduced. These advancements continued to improve cotton production in a huge way, changing the history of cotton, making it an even more important cash crop worldwide.