What is toilet paper?
Toilet paper is a thin soft sanitary absorbent paper that is used to clean oneself after using the washroom. Below is an image of toilet paper roll:
When I was young, apparently I used to ask a lot of questions. You’ve seen those kids that continuously nag their seniors with stupid questions. Anyway, one of my questions I posed to everyone I met (at one point in my life) was how is toilet paper made.
Fast forward 20+ years, I am now an expert in home improvement gear and have answered thousands of questions related to home gear on this website. I am happy to share this full guide on how toilet paper is manufactured. You can also check out our expert guide to the heated toilet seats and the overall best toilets.
There are several brands but here are some of the most popular:
- Angel Soft.
- Caprice Green Toilet Paper.
- Charmin Ultra Soft.
- Charmin Ultra Strong.
- Green Forest Unscented Bathroom.
- Kirkland Signature.
Before going into details of how the paper you use in your toilet is made, let’s discuss its history.
Toilet Paper History
The Modern toilet paper has been traced to 1857 when an American inventor named Joseph Gayetty, who trumpeted his “medicated paper” as “the greatest necessity of the age!” No one was willing to pay for this medicated paper immediately as there were several free alternatives available for free. The“splinter-free” toilet paper did not hit water closets until the 1930s.
The history of toilet paper could be centuries old though.
If you turn back the dial in your time machine — about 1,300 years, you may get another perspective of toilet paper history. That’s because, as with the compass, gunpowder, movable type, and so many other innovations, Chinese inventors were centuries ahead of their Western counterparts. By the late sixth century, wealthy Chinese were using paper (also invented in China) to wipe, and by the 14th century, millions of toilet paper sheets (measuring 2 x 3 feet) were being made to clean the bottoms of the Imperial court.
China and the U.S. continue to dominate the market for toilet paper today. Collectively the U.S. spends more than $6 billion on bathroom tissue each year, and the average American uses 57 squares per day. Demand for toilet paper is also growing fast in China, which ranks second behind the U.S. in consumption, and, in recent years, the country has returned to its early days as a leading paper manufacturer.
China plays a major role in transforming high-quality office paper and newsprint into recycled paper products, including bathroom tissue, which means that newspaper and toilet paper remain closely linked today. In fact, one interesting byproduct of the shift to online media and the decline of print is more expensive, lower-quality recycled toilet paper.
Raw Materials, what is toilet paper made of and steps to make it:
The raw materials of toilet paper are basically trees. Oak, maple, and gum are used to make soft tissue paper. However, To make premium toilet papers, 30% of softwood is mixed with 70% of hardwood. Other raw materials include bleaches, water and tree breaking down materials.
Below is a video showing how toilet paper is made
Making toilet paper from the trees
Endless cardboard tubes are also produced in the factory; the endless tube is cut into lengths and then transported via conveyor belt to the toilet paper section to be attached to the paper. The long tubes have wide sheets of paper wound around them to the right length. When the roll is done, rolling stops and the paper is cut with a blade. This long roll is then moved on, and winding begins on the next roll.
The toilet paper is made following these 10 steps:
- Before the paper is obtained, a tree is stripped of its bark.
- The barks are chipped into small pieces.
- The wood chips are mixed with water and chemicals to make a slurry.
- The slurry is sent to a pressure cooker called a digester.
- The slurry is cooked, evaporating the moisture leaving a batch of virgin cellulose fibers called the pulp.
- The pulp is washed to remove the lignin which is the yellow adhesive that binds fibers together and cooking chemicals.
- The virgin fiber pulp goes through a bleaching process to remove the color from the fiber.
- The pulp is mixed with water to produce paper stock containing 99.5% water and 0.5% fiber.
- The paper stock is sprayed between moving mesh screens, which allow much of the water to drain.
- A wide sheet of matted fiber is sent through a large heated cylinder called a Yankee Dryer.
- The toilet paper is pressed and dried to a final moisture content of about 5%.
- The paper is creped to make it soft and wrinkled.
- During creping, the paper is scraped off the Yankee Dryer with a metal blade to make large wide sheets.
- The sheets a wound into large rolls and sent to converting machines.
- The toilet paper is unwound, slit and rewound onto long thin cardboard tubing, making a paper log.
- The paper logs are then cut into rolls and wrapped in packages.
Toilet Paper By-Products/Waste
The first waste product produced in the toilet paper making process, the bark removed from tree trunks, burns easily and is used to help power the paper mills. In addition, black liquor, the fluid removed from the pulp after cooking, is further evaporated to a thick combustible liquid that is also used to power the mill. This reduction process, in turn, yields a byproduct called tall oil that is widely used for many household products. About 95% of the cooking chemicals are recovered and reused.
But other problems associated with the industry are less easily solved. The production of virgin toilet paper has spawned two current controversies: the destruction of trees, and the use of chlorine dioxide to bleach the paper. While virgin paper processing does necessitate the destruction of trees, they are a readily renewable resource and paper companies maintain large forests to feed their supply. Despite this, some activists have proposed that toilet paper be manufactured only from recycled products and suggest that consumers boycott toilet paper made of new materials.
These activists object to new paper processing because it often uses chlorine bleaching, which produces dioxins, a family of chemicals considered environmental hazards, as a byproduct. Paper and pulp mills are the primary producers of dioxins, and manufacturers must carefully assess their effluvia to counteract the emission of dioxins. Increasingly, virgin paper makers use alternative bleaching methods that substitute oxygen, peroxide, and sodium hydroxide for chlorine. Some simply reduce the amount of chlorine used in the process. Others experiment with cooking the wood chips longer, removing more lignin earlier in the process, which requires less bleach. Better pulp washing also removes more lignin and reduces the amount of bleach needed for whitening.
Making Toilet paper using recycled materials
These following steps are to be followed if you want to make toilet paper using recycled paper:
- Large bales of recycled paper are put in a pulping machine.
- The paper is mixed with warm water, which forms a pulp.
- The pulp is put in an ink-removing process. Here, the pulp is injected with air, which makes ink rise to the top. Foam is removed making the pulp ink-free.
- Squeezing water out by passing the pulp through rollers.
- The pul puis cut using revolving knives.
- The pulp is dried by spreading it on a flat-screen.
- Embossing. Here, patterns are embossed on the paper to make it thick.
- Cardboard tubes are produced, cut and passed through a conveyor belt, where toilet paper is attached.
- Rolls are glued and then sliced into sizable pieces.
- The tissue rolls are then packaged and distributed.
Youtube Video on Toilet Paper Making Process
If you want to start a business of manufacturing toilet paper for retail sale, watch the production lines below:
Virgin pulp is the key ingredient of toilet paper in Canada.
Toilet paper is made from virgin paper that is produced from a combination of hardwood and softwood trees
Toilet paper is made by toilet paper manufacturing companies.
Kleenex Cottonelle Ultra Comfort Care.
Charmin Ultra Soft
Kleenex Cottonelle Ultra Comfort Care
Vinda toilet paper
Waitrose toilet paper
Seventh Generation bath tissue
Green Forest tissue
Alex Kiangi is a home improvement expert with experience dealing in toilet and cleaning gar such as dishwashers, toilets, toilet seats, among others. He is the editor here at Sleek Home HQ and with over 12 years of experience, he spends a lot of time sharing his insight on various blogs. He also runs a small home improvement consulting business that also does repairs in the Atlanta area. If you have any questions, you can reach Alex using his email, firstname.lastname@example.org