Flax and Linen
Flax is a plant belonging to the Linaceae family. In France, this plant is cultivated in Normandy, Ile de France and Hauts-de-France for its textile fibers which produce a very light and good quality fabric. French flax is recognized for its quality because it is cultivated in an area with a very suitable climate, a good alternation between rain and sun which favors the growth of long stems of flax. France, the world's leading producer of flax, has experienced scutchers for several decades who transform the flax plant into dyed fiber and separate it from the seeds and shives.
Flax is a plant that respects the environment, firstly its cultivation requires almost no pesticide, then transformation is done naturally with little water, it is little polluting and produces little waste. The first stage of transformation takes place during the retting after having torn off the plant, it is quite simply deposited on the ground during weeks. Exposed to the sun and rain with the presence of sand which will allow the flax to retting and there will be separation of the textile fibers and the woody part of the stem.
The flax delivered in bale by the flax grower is sent to the scutching to separate the fibers from the seeds and the straws. Then the pieces of straw called shives are separated from the fibers, and finally the long fibers are separated from the short fibers called tow.
In flax, nothing is thrown away, all parts of the plant are used for various purposes after processing. Flax is mainly used in textiles, which contributes to the circular economy. The long fibers of dyed flax are transformed into yarn and fabric and are used in clothing. Flax fibers are highly valued in textiles because they are long and strong which makes the garment strong and it lasts longer compared to a cotton garment.
Short flax fibers have various uses. They are also used in textiles to make linens and are used extensively in stationery to make fine papers such as cigarette papers, art papers, decorative papers and bible papers. Flax tow is also used in the manufacture of rope, twine and several composite materials in other sectors including sports, leisure, automotive and construction.
The flax shives are the waste recovered from the central stem of the flax plant, they represent 50% of the whole plant. More than just waste, flax shives are used for their resistance as an alternative to wood flour and as particleboard. They are also used as bedding for horses and as fuel for boiler rooms.
As mentioned above, nothing is lost in flax, its seeds are increasingly used in human and animal food for their ratio of omega 3, fiber, protein and minerals. They are also used in the cosmetic industry, especially for face and hair masks.