What Is Coconut Husk Fiber?

coconut-husk-fiber Credit: Indi Samarajiva/CC-BY-2.0

Coconut husk fiber, also called coir, is the fibrous material found between the hard interior shell and the outer shell of a coconut. Brown coir is made from ripe coconut, while white coir is taken from an unripe coconut fruit. Bristle coir is the longest variety of fibers and is manufactured from retted coconut husk through defibring.

The coir is airy, open and wiry in texture. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, coir is the most resistant and thickest of all commercial fibers. Brown or red coir is typically used as a material in making brushes, floor mats, mattresses, rugs, carpets and insulation panels. It is also high in lignin, which makes coir naturally resistant to burning. This discovery led to the adoption of coir as multi-use packaging.

Brown coir is also used in making car seat covers and as filling for sofas, settees and other seating furniture. It can be compressed into bricks to make floor tiles, which require soaking in water before application. White coir is extracted from immature coconut after soaking the husk for six months. It is naturally resistant to salt water and is used in making fishing nets and in the manufacturing of ropes and yarns.

Coir dust, also called pith or peat, is a byproduct of milling the coconut husk fiber. It can be used as a high-quality mulch and fertilizer as a substitute for peat moss in horticulture. Other coir waste products are used as potting soil, soil conditioner and excellent organic manure.