KAPOK – AKA CEIBA OR SILK-COTTON
Largely unheard of
You may be aware of kapok as a filling material for cushions or futons. The light, hollow fibres are sometimes used for this purpose, as they are particularly warm and fluffy, are excellent at regulating moisture and do not clump or pill. These are also ideal properties for high-quality textiles.
Difficult to process
Unfortunately, kapok fibres don’t like to be spun. The reason for this is the fibre’s natural wax coating. This is partly responsible for its excellent properties, but up to now has defeated every spinning machine, which is why there was no kapok yarn until recently.
It does work!
Technical progress is also made in spinning mills and it is now possible to at least create a mixed yarn from kapok and cotton.
We are currently testing if this yarn is suitable for making baby wraps.
A genuine natural fibre.
Kapok cannot be cultivated industrially on plantations, which may be a reason why hardly any effort was made to overcome the technical difficulties in creating kapok yarn. The trees grow more or less randomly and their seed pods are collected rather than harvested. No investments are required. Ceiba trees do not need any fertiliser, pesticides or irrigation.
As the trees grow so randomly, it is difficult for large companies to work in this market. Instead, it is controlled by small cooperatives and the profits are mainly distributed amongst the people who collect the pods. This makes kapok a very democratic product, as the people who earn money by collecting the seed pods maintain the tress and thus (hopefully) the forests in which they grow.