How Are Paper Towels Made?

It’s easy to acknowledge paper towels are purchased from a store or distribution center. However, do you ever consider where paper towels come from? Despite the intricate manufacturing process of paper towels and paper products alike, most people don’t know the paper towel’s origin. In the content below, we explore the process of how paper towels are made.

Who Invented Paper Towels?

When considering the history of paper towels, we look to the Scott Brothers in 1879. In Philadelphia, brothers Irvin and Clarence Scott began manufacturing 1,000 sheet rolls of tissue and toilet paper at 10 cents a roll.

Initially, this paper towel product was intended for medical use. However, print ads helped increase awareness and reduce the embarrassment of needing such a product. Over time, the manufacturing label was named the Scott Paper Company. 

By 1931, Arthur Scott and the Scott Paper Company introduced paper kitchen towels to the nation and paper towel production grew exponentially. Therefore, after nearly a century of paper towels’ existence, you can see countless paper towel brands flooding the shelves at department and grocery stores.

What are Paper Towels Made Of?

Although most commonly know that paper products originate from trees, few know of the exact manufacturing process. To turn a tree into a paper towel, the wood and fiber crops must initially be turned into a pulp.

However, the paper pulp does not always have to be a direct product of a tree. Alternatively, manufacturing companies can avoid virgin pulp and instead utilize recycled paper pulp which results in reducing the number of trees being cut down. Furthermore, paper towel companies have explored other sustainable sources to create their products, including bamboo.

How are Paper Towels Made?

It can be hard to imagine that quilted, perforated paper towel sheets originate from trees. Are you curious about how paper towels are made? Below, we explore the three main steps to manufacturing paper towels.

Step 1: Make Pulp

Similar to manufacturing paper and other paper products, the first step is to harvest the inner materials, or fibers, from softwood trees. After safely cutting down the tree and removing the exterior bark from the wood, you carefully chip the wood into smaller pieces.

Then, you can easily strip the long, even fibers through a churning process. This process involves mixing both water and chemical additives to help dissolve the bonding wood fibers from one another. As a result, the fibers churn into pulp.

Step 2: Develop Pulp

After creating the natural pulp from the tree’s interior, you need to develop it further to manufacture products such as cardboard, toilet paper, printer paper, and paper towels. First, you must complete several bleaching and cleaning processes to remove various contaminates and unnecessary particles from the mixture.

To aid the process, manufacturers use screeners to sift the pulp into a fine consistency and filter out any remaining additives or impurities. Once more, manufacturers apply a bleaching solution to help whiten the finished product.

Then, the refined pulp runs through several machines designed to prepare the pulp’s consistency for paper production. Additionally, the machines incorporate a special resin product that reconnects the pulp’s fibers to one another.

Following this process, the pulp is rolled onto a flat surface into extremely thin layers in the shape of the paper towel. Manufacturers can then continue rolling the pulp solution while applying heat to help dry it.  

Step 3: Bond Pulp Together

Unlike printer paper or cardboard, the main utility factor of paper towels is their perforation and ability to absorb liquids, cleaning spills and other messes. Therefore, the paper used to create paper towels is not pressed together as hard as other paper products. This is how paper towels keep their gentle, softer texture.

As most paper towel products are two-ply, or have two layers, these layers are carefully bonded together to create a single sheet. This process is completed with the implementation of light, harmless glue or an alternative adhesive. Simultaneously, the paper towel is embossed to help trap small air pockets between the two layers. As a result, the paper towels effectively absorb water.

How Many Paper Towels are Made from One Tree?

Since paper towels are mass-produced, it is easier to first discuss how many trees make an entire ton (2,000 products) of paper towels. To make one ton of paper towels, it requires 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water. Furthermore, from one tree, you can manufacture approximately 118 paper towel rolls using 1,176.47 gallons of water.

However, not all paper towels require this, as manufacturers can create recycled paper towels. For those concerned about their environmental footprint, you can purchase fully recyclable paper towels or even cloth towels for your shop applications. Therefore, you may not need to cut down a single tree to effectively keep your shop sanitized and clean.

High-Quality Paper Towels for Your Shop at Discount Shop Towels

We understand that auto shops and manufacturing industries alike need reliable cleaning towels to ensure a sanitized and efficient workspace. At Discount Shop Towels, we are the leading shop towel supplier dedicated to supplying high-quality towels and shop products at fair costs.

Specializing in e-commerce retail, we work hard to provide the best prices available and a secure website so you can shop effortlessly and safely. Whether your company needs bulk orders or one-month supply quantities, our experts will guide you to the right products according to your shop’s needs.

To learn more or inquire about our other offered products, contact us today!


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