Kapok fiber is a soft silky floss harvested from the pods of the kapok tree.The kapok is native to the New World and to Africa and was transported to Asia, where it is cultivated for its fiber, or floss.Kapok,also called Java cotton, ceiba, or Java kapok.
The hair-like fibers that surround the kapok seeds are best used as a stuffing,where they have several advantages over more commonly used materials. Kapok fibers on their own are not suitable for spinning into yarn, as they are too smooth, slippery and brittle. Kapok is also used as stuffing for pillows,soft toys, mattresses, and upholstery, as insulation material, and as a substitute for absorbent cotton in surgery.The fiber itself can last for many years even after your pillow shell wears out, and does not need to be washed, just aired in the sun to cleanse and re fluff. Kapok fibers are lustrous, yellowish brown and made of a mix of lignin and cellulose. Each fiber is about 2.5 cm long, has a wide lumen and thin walls covered with waterproof wax.
Characteristics of kapok Fibres
- The hollow core makes kapok very light, 8 times lighter than cotton by volume.
- Kapok can support as much as 30 times its weight in water. In the past, kapok was used to fill life jackets.
- The waxy coating helps repel water, and air bubbles are usually trapped in lumen, making kapok 5 times more buoyant than cork.
- The cell structure allows it to trap air making kapok a good fibre to use for insulation.
- Kapok resists clumping (i.e. it does not become lumpy) it also bounces back to the original shape after washing, a useful property when stuffing soft toys.
- It’s packs down firmly characteristic makes it useful to stuff meditation cushions.
- The waxy coating also makes kapok slippery, it therefore easily adjusts to shape, for example of the head on a pillow.
- kapok is a natural biodegradable fibre. It can be reused many times without developing mould or decaying.