How Toilet Paper is Made

Toilet paper is made from virgin wood fibers or from a combination of recycled paper pulp mixed in water with chemical sulfates to help it break down, starches that create wet strength and chemicals to make it white.

Virgin fiber toilet paper is made using softwood and hardwood trees. Softwood trees are Southern pines and Douglas. These have long fibers that give the paper strength. Hardwood trees like maple and oak have shorter fibers that make the paper soft. Virgin fiber toilet paper is made with a combination of approximately 70% hardwood and 30% softwood.

Making Toilet Paper

  1. Trees are debarked and chipped into small pieces.
  2. The wood chips are mixed with water and chemicals to make slurry.
  3. The slurry is sent to a pressure cooker called a digester.
  4. The slurry is cooked, evaporating the moisture leaving a batch of virgin cellulose fibers called pulp.
  5. The pulp is washed to remove the lignin which is the yellow adhesive that binds fibers together and cooking chemicals.
  6. The virgin fiber pulp goes through a bleaching process to remove color from the fiber. 
  7. The pulp is mixed with water to produce paper stock containing 99.5% water and 0.5% fiber.
  8. The paper stock is sprayed between moving mesh screens, which allow much of the water to drain.
  9. A wide sheet of matted fiber is sent through a large heated cylinder called a Yankee Dryer.
  10. The toilet paper is pressed and dried to a final moisture content of about 5%.
  11. The paper is creped to make it soft and wrinkled.
  12. During creping, the paper is scraped off the Yankee Dryer with a metal blade to make large wide sheets.
  13. The sheets a wound into large rolls and sent to converting machines.
  14. The toilet paper is unwound, slit and rewound onto long thin cardboard tubing, making a paper log.
  15. The paper logs are then cut into rolls and wrapped in packages.

Recycled paper is made from existing colored and white paper mixed together with water and chemicals and cooked in a pulper and made into slurry. It is rinsed, cleaned and whitened before going into the Yankee Cylinder paper making process.

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