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Kapok fruit
Kapok fibers

Kapok (from Malay kapuk ), also called plant down , is the downy hollow fiber of the seeds of the kapok tree ( Ceiba pentandra ).

But also from various other wool tree plants ; Bombax TYPES ( bombax Ceiba , bombax costatum , bombax buonopozense u. A.) And Pseudobombax tomentosum , Eriotheca pubescens , speciosa Ceiba , pyramidal Ochroma , as well as other plants such as Funtumia africana , Cochlospermum fraseri or from the cotton Milkweed ( Gomphocarpus fruticosus are) similar Fibers obtained, but the quality of these fibers is poor. Lycopodiella cernua can also serve as a substitute , the dried plant is used here.

Akon fiber , which comes from various silk plants, is similar .

The natural fiber itself is smooth, transparent with a large lumen and a thin cell wall. The average length of the fiber is 19 mm, the average fiber width is 19 μm.


In contrast to many other natural fibers , the cellulose content of kapok fibers is relatively low at around 35%, other important components are xylan (22%) and lignin (21.5%). The high number of acetyl groups of 13% is also exceptional .

Because of the air inclusion of 80%, kapok fiber is considered to be the lightest natural hollow textile fiber in the world after poplar fluff . About 15% of it is mixed with hand-picked cotton (85%) to create a silky feel and thus convey a sense of well-being, which is increased by the natural heat and moisture regulation. The fibers have a fine wax coating , which on the one hand means that they cannot be easily spun, but on the other hand has the advantage that the hair cannot be wetted. However, this makes kapok easily flammable. The fire on the passenger ship Normandy was caused by inflamed life jackets with kapok filling.


For a long time, kapok fiber was not considered spinnable and was used to fill life jackets, lifebuoys, mattresses and as cushioning material. Nonwoven fabric made from Kapok was used as insulation material, for. B. used in the footfall sound insulation of parquet . Around 1912, the Chemnitz stock spinning mill succeeded in spinning pure , pretreated kapok fiber for the first time , but the process was uneconomical. In 2006 the Otto brothers succeeded in producing cotton / kapok blended yarns in a ratio of 85/15% using a spinning process developed in-house. B. to be processed into shirts . Due to their lipophilicity (affinity to fats) kapok fibers are also suitable for binding oil.


  • Amar K. Mohanty, Manjusri Misra, Lawrence T. Drzal, (Eds.): Natural fibers, biopolymers, and biocomposites. Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Ranton, FL 2005, ISBN 0-8493-1741-X .
  • Keko Hori, Maxima E. Flavier, Shigenori Kuga et al .: Excellent oil absorbent kapok [Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn.] Fiber: fiber structure, chemical characteristics, and application. In: Journal of Wood Science. 46 (5), 2000, pp. 401-404, doi : 10.1007 / BF00776404 .

Web links

Commons : Kapok  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. M. Brink, EG Achigan-Dako: Fibers. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 16, Prota, 2012, ISBN 978-92-9081-481-8 , pp. 75-83.
  2. ^ J. Merritt Matthews: The textile fibers. Springer, 1928, ISBN 978-3-642-89221-9 (reprint), p. 503.
  3. Useful Tropical Plants; Kapok , accessed May 10, 2018.
  4. Herbert M. Ulrich: Handbook of the chemical investigation of textile fibers. Second volume, Springer, 1956, pp. 199 f.
  5. OV Metzger: Our old colony Togo. Verlag J. Neumann, Neudamm 1941, p. 202.
  6. Oeko-Tex Standard 100plus: Sustainably successful spinning ( memento from December 26, 2015 in the Internet Archive ).