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Flax and paper mills

Paper is a dry material made essentially from wood, flax, or hemp fibers (or recycled paper). It comes in thin sheets and is obtained after transformation of the paper pulp.  In the following we will only talk about paper made from flax and hemp fibers.

The manufacture of paper dates back more than two centuries, before paper was made mainly by recycling old cloth, rags, and rope. It was only later that vegetable fibers made their appearance in the paper industry; and flax and hemp papers started to be manufactured in France only from the 1300s.

Today, the world's production of flax and hemp is largely in Europe, with France producing more than eight million tons of paper and cardboard per year, with more than half of its production destined for packaging papers and nearly a quarter for graphic papers.

Among the fibers used in paper manufacturing, hemp and flax fibers are highly valued for their characteristics. More than half of the production of short flax and hemp fibers is used in the paper industry. They bring a particular fineness to the paper, a good resistance (can resist 3 centuries), they are among the rare fibers to be more solid wet than dry, they are easily cleaned, and they are recyclable (can be recycled 7 to 8 times). These fibers can be used separately or mixed to make paper.

The transformation of the fibers into paper goes through the pulp in mills.  To obtain this pulp, the fibers are first crushed and defibered in water to separate the woody parts of the fiber, then glue is added in small quantities before sieving the mixture. Then the sheets obtained are dried, pressed and finally put under press to obtain a smooth paper. This last step depends on the purpose of the paper, the art papers are not necessarily smooth.

Papers made from these fibers are not limited to wrapping papers and graphics, they are also found in books, bibles, filter papers and other special purpose papers. Flax and hemp papers are used in the manufacture of banknotes, these papers are appreciated because they are thin but strong double fold.

In the manufacture of cigarette paper these fibers are very popular, they give a fine paper, solid, very open and a good taste to the mouth. Almost all the French hemp is bought by the big cigarette industry to transform it into cigarettes or to import it to Russia, Pakistan... to market cigarettes in these countries.

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