How Toilet Paper Is Made

People use a lot of items for their daily needs and toilet paper is just one of them. For some, toilet paper is used for personal hygiene. However others use toilet paper to clean anything else – to wipe their noses when they have a cold, clean up water, juice or coffee spills on the table or floor, makeup removal, or some other small cleaning chores like wiping fingerprints of your keyboard and even wiping utensils before eating.

Have you ever wondered how toilet paper is manufactured and what is used to make it? For those who are at least curious, like I was, to know what toilet paper is made of or how it’s manufactured read on because this article will give you some clarity and peace of mind about it.

Toilet paper design schematics
Toilet paper design schematics | Photo Credit: S. Wheeler [Public domain]

Toilet Paper History

Toilet paper, which is considered a practical and ingenious creation, was first introduced to the public back in 1880. It was originally made with a coarser paper material and the first rolls released were not perforated. Toilet papers were initially sold in individual boxes. Also, consumers were quite uncomfortable purchasing toilet paper or feel a bit ashamed when caught red-handed having a roll in their shopping cart

Over the years, the demand, production, and acceptance of toilet paper have changed significantly. Almost every consumer has several rolls of toilet paper in their shopping carts. Manufacturers also increased production volume and made some changes as well to the product since the increase in demand surfaced. Manufacturers estimated that an average single toilet paper roll could last for five days.

Also, nowadays, toilet paper is perforated, have an increased number of sheets per roll and can be scented, colored or imprinted with a design or company logo.

See our list of 9 different types of toilet paper here.

What Materials Are Needed In Manufacturing Toilet Paper?

  • A mixture of softwood and hardwood trees
  • Water
  • Chemicals for fiber extraction
  • Bleaches (Example: Chlorine Dioxide)

Toilet paper is normally prepared from new or what is called “virgin” paper with combined softwood and hardwood trees. What are softwood and hardwood trees? A softwood tree contains long fibers that bind together so this will give the paper material strength. On the other hand, a hardwood tree has shorter fibers that allow the paper to become soft when made. Generally, most commercial toilet paper uses a combination of approximately 70% hardwood and 30% softwood.

Toilet paper making
Toilet paper making | Photo Credit: By Sammutawe – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Manufacturing Process for Toilet Paper

  1. The manufacturing process for toilet paper begins with the creation of a paper that comes from the trees. 
  2. The next step is debarking. It is a process where the outer layer of the tree is removed but there will still be as much wood left on the tree as possible.
  3. The debarked logs will be placed in machines to chip them into small uniform sizes, making it easy to crush the wood before they get divided into several batches.
  4. A batch of chipped wood will be mixed with added chemicals in a machine called digester, which is basically a huge pressure cooker. The process can approximately take 3 hours to completely evaporate the moisture in the wood but the result from it will be the fiber called pulp.
  5. The pulp is washed to remove the cooking chemicals before being bleached. It is a chemical process that has several stages where all of the colors from the fiber is removed. The residual lignin, which is an adhesive binding the fibers together, must be bleached in order to make the paper from the pulp white. Otherwise, the residual lignin will only turn the paper yellow over time if not removed.
  6. The pulp will now be mixed again with a lot of water in order to manufacture a mixture called paper stock. This mixture will consist of 99.5% water and 0.5% fiber.
  7. The paper stock is sprayed onto mesh screens to drain most of the water. This process will produce a sheet of matted fiber.
  8. The matted fiber is placed inside a massive heated cylinder to press and then dry the paper to around 5% final moisture content.
  9. The paper is now creped, which is a process to make the material very soft and have this slightly wrinkled appearance. During the creping process, the paper will be scraped off of the dryer with the use of a metal blade then wound on gigantic reels.
  10. The paper is loaded into machines that cut them into long strips and perforate into squares, unwind, slot and then rewind on a long and thin cardboard tubing to make a paper log.
  11. Lastly, the paper logs are cut into several rolls before wrapping them into packages.
Seventh Generation Toilet Paper, Bath Tissue, 100% Recycled Paper, 48 Rolls
Seventh Generation Toilet Paper, 100% Recycled Paper (Image: Amazon.com)

Creating Toilet Paper

Toilet paper
Toilet paper | Photo Credit: Alexas_Fotos

Another method to manufacture toilet paper is through recycling. Many advocates of saving and preserving the planet support this method of toilet paper production and poses less strain on the planet.

Manufacturers will now make use of oxygen, ozone, sodium hydroxide or peroxide in order to make the recycled paper white.

How on earth do you do that? Read further and find out how it’s done.

  1. Mix together different types of paper.
  2. Choose a solution that can remove the ink from the paper. A recycled paper must be washed first and ink-free before it is pulped.
  3. The toilet paper will then be ground and transformed into a paper that is soft and very thin.
  4. Lastly, the toilet paper will go through the bleaching process before it is scented.
Recycled toilet paper
Recycled toilet paper | Photo Credit: Pixabay

 

Most of the time, companies that produce toilet papers uphold the quality of their products to earn the consumers’ trust. Some of the things that must be carefully checked and tested when manufacturing toilet papers are the chemicals to be used in the pulping process, slurry temperature and the final material’s strength, moisture content, color, and texture.

Do you prefer virgin or recycled toilet paper? Share your thoughts in the comments below.