Flax: All about


Flax is a fiber that was the first plant fiber to be used by man for making textiles for humans. The Binomial name of Flax is Linum usitatissimum. The other common name of flax is linen. Canada, Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Bangladesh, the United States of America, India, Ukraine, Argentina and Italy are the main production area of flax.  Flax is used for various purposes. Due to extra strength and resistance to moisture, flax had been in use to make sail and tent canvas. Waste flax fibers are made into banknotes and so many. 

Flax: All about

History of Flax: 

Linen mummy clothes have been identified as more than 4500 years old. Evidence of biblical writings shows that spinning and weaving of flax were well-advanced thousands of years ago.

Chemical Composition of Flax:


Ratio (%)



Hemi-cellulose, pectin




Fat, Ash, Water


Types of Flax:

  1. Seed Flax
  2. Fiber Flax

Flax seeds are mainly of two types. Some come as yellow and others as golden flax seeds. Fiber flax is for the fiber in its stem. 

Characteristics of Flax Plant:

Flax is an annual plant. As a result, flax must be re-seeded every year. Cultivated flax plant grows from 3—4 feet. Flax flowers are pure blue, 1.5—2.5 cm in diameter, with five petals. Flax fruit is round and Flax leaves are glaucous green. Growth of flax takes 3—4 months. After flowering, the mature plant develops seed capsules. 

Structure of Flax Fiber:

  • Usually, 3―6 cells constitute the fiber cross-section
  • The diameter ranges of flax are from 40―80 µm 
  • Flax’s nodes indicate a change in the spiral direction of the fibrils.
  • There is maybe up to 800 nodes on a single flax fiber cell
  • Cross-markings can be seen on the flax fiber cells
  • Color is light blonde to grey blonde.

Flax Production Process:

Seven steps to follow to product flax. The steps are:

  1. Cutting
  2. Roughing Out
  3. Retting
  4. Drying
  5. Breaking
  6. Scutching
  7. Hackling
  8. Spinning
  9. Dyeing
Flax Production Process
Flax Production Process

Retting is of 4 types:

  1. Dam retting
  2. Dew retting
  3. Tank retting
  4. Chemical retting

Physical Properties

  • Length is 30 – 60 cm
  • The cross-sectional view is polygonal
  • Strength is approximately 57.4 cN/tex
  • Moisture regain ability is about 11-13% (12%
  • Specific Gravity is 1.54 
  • It is the best heat resistance fiber
  • It can be cottonize. 

How to Identify?

It can be identified in two ways. One is the burn test. If you burn this, you will find ash as powder and it will smell like burnt paper. Another way is to see the microscopic view whether it is polygonal or not. 


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