What Is Paper Used For?

Kate Ter Haar/CC-BY-2.0

Paper is used to make books, magazines and newspapers as well as paper money and photographic paper. It’s used to make writing paper, toys, boxes, wrapping paper, glassine, paper napkins, toilet paper, paper towels, facial tissue and paper plates. It’s also used for wax paper, parchment paper, filter paper, insulation, roofing felt, wallboard and gypsum board. Some further uses are envelopes, wrappers and butcher paper.

Paper has uses in the medical industry to make bandages and surgical dressings as well as surgical gowns. It is used to make many home decor items, including sturdy laminated kitchen countertops, flooring and wallpaper.

Rags used to be the main ingredient of paper for many years, but now most types of paper are made out of wood pulp. Some paper products are made from waste paper, while others are made from hemp or jute.

Pulpwood paper can be made from a mechanical or chemical process. The wood is stripped of bark, chipped, pulped and passed through various machines that may add chemicals like solutions of calcium bisulfite or caustic soda. Other machines remove water from the pulp and form the pulp into thin sheets. Heavy rollers then press out the rest of the water, and the sheets are dried on steam-heated cylinders.