Retting

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This is the process in flax production that weakens the fibers in the flax plant. Several retting methods are used:

  • Dew or Grass Retting. Small bundles of the uprooted flax plants are left outdoors for 3-5 weeks.
  • Pond Retting. Small bundles are left submerged for 4-8 days. Many books refer to an unpleasant stench as a side effect of this process.
  • Stream Retting. Small bundles are anchored in a body of moving water. This is the quickest and the cleanest of the processes.

Apparently efforts are underway to perfect a process using enzymes to replicate the dew process. Retting occurs in flax fiber production after ‘rippling’ and before ‘breaking.

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