Cotton or hemp that is mercerized is more lustrous in nature. The name comes from the man who came up with the process of merceraization,John Mercer in 1844. But it did not get popular until a H Lowe made it better in the year 1890. Cotton is mainly used in making of garments. Cotton fiber seeds are clustered together and grow in a boll shape. Each layer of fiber has cellulose content in it and about thirty layers are formed in cotton fiber. Cotton is spiral twisted coil bean shaped fiber. They give smooth and comfortable to wear. Mercerizing cotton results in increase of lustrous nature. Mercerized cotton is stronger and more durable. Mercerized cotton also has other features like less shrinkage and color fading after washing. By dipping cotton in caustic soda helps in increasing their strength and dying process of cotton becomes easier.
Dying mercerized cotton is easy and beautiful colors are found in different mercerized cotton materials which last longer. The yarn looks shiny by repeated washings and results in a stronger fabric than cotton fabric because the twist in cotton fabric is removed and made into straight cylindrical rod form. Cost of mercerized cotton is thrice that of unmercerized cotton. Testing mercerized cotton is done by washing a sample piece of mercerized cotton. Pure mercerized cotton gloss will not disappear on repeated wearing and washing.
Mercerized cotton is actually referred as pearl or pearle cotton. Mercerizing process is mainly to improve luster in cotton fabric. Cotton is dipped in sodium hydroxide chemical solution under tension and the fabric is washed. Tension improves lustrous nature of cotton fabric. This causes a chemical transformation of alpha -cellulose to beta cellulose. Swelling causes the cotton fibers to uncoil and become cylindrical, straight and circular like a tube. Due to swelling the cell material in cotton fiber are tightly compacted together and pores are expanded. This change in cotton fabric results in the increase of luster, strength and durability.