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What Make Cotton So Absorbant?

Cotton is most efficient at absorbing or soaking up water. Cotton is able to absorb up to 27 times its weight in liquid water. Cotton's absorbent properties occur due to a number of reasons, including its specific molecular structure and the structure of water.

Structure of Water Part of the reason that cotton is so absorbent lies in the reaction of the differing molecular structures of cotton and water, according to Cotton Inc. Water molecules are made up of one atom of oxygen joined to two atoms of hydrogen. Each oxygen atom has a negative charge, while the hydrogen atoms have a positive charge. This creates a magnetic or "dipolar" attraction that binds the atoms together into a water droplet and also allows water to bond with or attach to any adjacent molecules which contain an opposite charge, such as cotton molecules.

Structure of Cotton Unlike simpler water molecules, cotton is made up of more complex series of atoms, which are linked into what are called "polymer molecules." These polymer molecules link up in repetitive patterns or chains, creating pure cellulose, a substance which makes cotton absorbent.

One reason cellulose makes cotton absorbent is that it contains a negative charge, which helps attract "dipolar" water molecules and absorb them. Another reason is cotton's "hydrophilic properties."

Hydrophilic Properties The cellulose in cotton has what is referred to in chemistry as "hydrophilic properties," according to Cotton Inc. The word "hydrophilic" actually means water loving or water attracting (hydro is the Greek word for water and philic or philia means loving). A hydrophilic molecule, such as those that occur naturally in cotton cellulose, is the exact opposite of a "hydrophobic" or water repelling molecule. Hydrophobic molecules often are found in man-made fabrics that are oil or petroleum based, according. This makes them less likely to absorb moisture.

One reason cellulose makes cotton absorbent is that it contains a negative charge, which helps attract "dipolar" water molecules and absorb them. Another reason is cotton's "hydrophilic properties."

This is why cotton is great for towels, clothing, linens and rugs


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