What Makes Paper Towels Absorbent?


Quick Answer

Paper towels are composed of cellulose fibers, which are created from tiny sugar molecules that are the key factor to making the paper towel absorbent. The sugar molecules in the paper towel do not make it edible. Humans lack the enzymes required to break down these sugar molecules, therefore, there is no nutritional value to a paper towel. The loosely woven fibers used to make the paper towel also play a large part in the absorbency offered.

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Full Answer

Paper towels, just like toilet paper, napkins and facial tissue are all paper products, but the manner in which a paper towel is manufactured and the materials used make the absorbency level much higher than the other paper products.

The loosely woven fibers allow liquid to travel between them for better absorbency level. Paper towels are made using a two-part manufacturing process. The first part of the process is called "creping," which uses a blade to open more areas on the towel by slicing through and disrupting the fiber-to-fiber bonds. The second part of the process is called "embossing", which alters the originally flat surface of the paper towel to one with more texture. The raised areas in the towel help aid liquids to travel through the opened areas of the towel, allowing it to absorb large amounts of liquid.

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