Mercerization is a process used to treat cotton fabric or yarn to improve its strength, appearance, and dye affinity. The process is named after its inventor, John Mercer, a British chemist, who discovered it in 1844.
In the mercerization process, cotton fabric or yarn is treated with a solution of sodium hydroxide (NaOH), also known as caustic soda. The NaOH causes the fibers to swell, which increases their strength and makes them more receptive to dye. The swollen fibers also develop a lustrous appearance and increased sheen. The process can be carried out on both woven and knitted cotton fabrics.
The mercerizing process typically involves passing the fabric or yarn through a series of caustic soda solutions, followed by rinsing and washing to remove the excess chemicals. The fabric is then stretched and dried to set the fibers in their new shape. The degree of mercerization can be controlled by adjusting the concentration and temperature of the caustic soda solution and the length of time the fabric is treated.
Overall, mercerization is a widely used process in the textile industry, as it enhances the appearance and performance of cotton fabrics and yarns, making them more durable, easier to dye, and more attractive to consumers.