How is good toilet paper made? | Etiquette April 11, 2015 10:00 1 Comment

At Etiquette, we are huge fans of good toilet paper since it goes hand-in-hand (sorry) with our hygiene solution dispenser that creates your own moist wipe with the simple touch of a finger. 

empty toilet paper roll in bathroomToilet paper is a form of tissue paper which is a special lightweight paper that has become one of the most essential commodities of our every day lives. More than seven billion rolls of toilet paper are sold yearly in just the United States alone. Americans use an average of 23.6 rolls per capita per year.

 

 

 China recently surpassed the U.S. as the world's leading producer of paper. China has learned the ins and outs of the "forest products industry" and have surpassed the big league producers. Wisconsin is the leading U.S. state for paper production, but the Chinese now produce more paper in less than a month than Wisconsin produces in a year!

Near the end of this post, there is a video showing how toilet paper is made, but if you want to have a look now before reading on, Click here

What was used before toilet paper?

Before toilet paper became a relatively cheap commodity, wiping one's rear end without much more than one's hand and perhaps some grass, leaves, corn cobs or other plant materials, was the way to go. Most wealthy people wiped themselves with wool, lace or hemp.

Ancient Romans usually used a sponge on a stick that was kept in a pail of vinegar.

And in Biblical times, Jewish people apparently used small pebbles, often carried in a special bag, as well as dry grass and the smooth edges of broken pottery jugs. After the initial wipe with any of these objects, a cleansing would be performed with water.

To be frank, this is how many people use the Etiquette bathroom hygiene solution. Regular toilet paper is used initially, then a moist wipe is used from the Etiquette bathroom hygiene dispenser by dabbing the solution onto toilet paper.

What is toilet paper made from?

Did you know tissue paper products are generally made from three main types of starter materials:

  • Woodfree (or chemical) pulp
  • Wood-containing (or mechanical) pulp 
  • Recovered paper

Yup...

The process of making toilet paper starts by either producing the paper or using recovered (recycled) paper. Recycled paper can be made new again by shredding it up and placing it in hot water to make a paper pulp. Any ink in this giant pot of soggy paper pulp is removed by injecting air bubbles into the water. The air bubbles rise to the top of the pot and they carry any ink color with them to be skimmed off the top.

The paper can then be bleached making the pulp nice and white for new color to be applied. The mass of paper pulp is then compressed using rollers to remove all the moisture. After it is rolled out into a long sheet of toilet paper, it is laid out to dry.

The toilet paper is then embossed with a stamping process. The stamping increases the strength and appearance of the paper. Rolls of toilet paper can then be placed together to create two-ply and spun around a long cardboard tube. After the roll has reached the desired thickness, the paper is cut and glued down so it doesn't unravel. The long tube of toilet paper can then be cut into the 4 inch lengths we buy at the store.

Toilet paper can be one-, two- or three-ply, or even thicker, meaning that it is either a single sheet or multiple sheets placed back-to-back to make it thicker, softer, stronger and more absorbent. Toilet paper products can vary a lot in size, weight, roughness, softness, chemical residues, "finger-breakthrough" resistance, water-absorption, etc... Bottom line, not all toilet paper is the same.

Septic safe toilet paper is designed to break down more quickly, so it has shorter fibers than facial tissue or writing paper. Manufacturers try to reach an optimal balance between having the paper break down quickly (which requires shorter fibers) and its ability to hold up and get the job done (which requires longer fibers).

How can some toilet paper be made so soft?

The degree of milling of the wood pulp during the manufacturing process determines how soft the toilet paper will be. The softer, more fluffy and cushy toilet papers have a lot less actual wood pulp to make them that way. And some have no wood pulp. Soft toilet paper for the home generally uses a finer wood pulp than found in many rough commercial tissue products; These commercial products are also single-ply and that has its own set problems. Etiquette users know better than to use a single-ply rough toilet paper on their backsides.

The challenge for toilet paper manufacturers is to make a toilet tissue paper that is soft and fluffy, but can still get the job done. American consumers, in particular, like soft cushy bathroom tissue paper. Toilet paper companies have been in competition for years striving to make a product that is as free from larger, rougher fibers.

Low-grade institutional toilet paper is typically of the lowest grade of paper, has only one or two plies, is very coarse and may contain small amounts of embedded unbleached/unpulped paper. You do not want to use this cheap stuff with your fine Etiquette product. It would work if you layered it before applying the hygiene solution to the toilet paper, but why struggle? One of the benefits of Etiquette is the ease with which you can get a flushable biodegradable moist wipe without a lot of fuss and fumbling.

Different grades or quality of toilet paper

Quality is usually determined by the number of plies (stacked sheets), coarseness, and durability. 

Low-grade institutional toilet paper is typically of the lowest grade of paper, has only one or two plies, is very coarse. You do not want to use this cheap stuff with your fine Etiquette product. It would work if you made several layers before applying the hygiene solution to the toilet paper, but why struggle? One of the benefits of Etiquette is the ease with which you can get a flushable biodegradable moist wipe without a lot of fuss and fumbling.

Mid-grade two ply is somewhat textured to provide some softness and is somewhat stronger.

Premium toilet paper may have even have an added coat of lotion and/or wax with two to four plies of very finely pulped paper...nice.

The four most desired toilet paper qualities consumers are looking for are (in descending order):

  1. softness
  2. strength
  3. absorbency
  4. scent  

The two most common complaints among users are:

  1. not being soft and strong enough (you could have guessed that one from the list above). :-)
  2. ply separation
  3. bad perforations preventing it from tearing properly and easily where you want it to

Companies that sell unique specialty toilet paper

Most people recognize the names of the big companies in the toilet tissue market: Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Cascades and Georgia-Pacific LLC.

And there are some smaller specialty toilet paper makers that you may want to have a look at.

Two specialty toilet paper companies that sell toilet paper with pictures, designs and messages include:

1. Custom Printed Toilet Paper Rolls - This company is a great source for American Made - Custom Printed - Funny Toilet Paper. They have many stock designs ready for immediate shipping including political humor, funny designs, gag gifts, hilarious quotes & sayings, golfing, hunting & more. Their toilet paper is made in the USA on recycled paper that is septic safe. And of course, you cannot forget about the ink coming into contact with your potentially sensitive bottom. They state their designs are printed with inks that are safe to use. Each roll is individually shrink wrapped.

2. Just Toilet Paper.com - This company has so many different designs and messages on their toilet paper it's crazy.