Bast Fibres: Types, Properties and Uses

What is a Bast Fibre?
Fibres obtained from the inner, fibrous stems of plants (the phloem and xylem) are called bast fibres. These fibres are held together with sticky pectin, which is removed before the material is processed. Bast fibres are long, strong, and flexible fibres such as flax, hemp, jute, and ramie etc. These fibres have been used for thousands of years in the production of textiles and other products. Bast fibres are typically coarser than other types of plant fibres, such as cotton or wool, but they are also more durable and resistant to wear and tear. For bast fibre, pretreatment processes include retting, scouring and bleaching to remove natural impurities such as pectin.

Bast Fibres
Fig: Different types of Bast Fibres

Bast fibre is a kind of natural cellulosic fibre, and its textile products have very good air permeability, comfort and moisture-absorption properties. However, the impurity content of bast fibre is very high, and it also has very high crystallinity and orientation in the molecular structure. Therefore, if the pretreatment process is not conducted properly, a lower depth of shade will be obtained in the latter dyeing process. As a result, the requirements for pretreatment of bast fibre are very demanding, such that energy consumption and pollution are serious problems. There is a clear need to improve the pretreatment processes for bast fibre.

Bast fibres are known for their durability and resistance to wear and tear, making them ideal for use in products such as ropes, twines, and heavy-duty fabrics. In recent years, bast fibres have gained popularity as a sustainable alternative to synthetic fibres, as they are renewable and biodegradable. They also require less energy to produce compared to synthetic fibres, and are less likely to cause harm to the environment.

Types of Bast Fibres:
There are several types of bast fibres, including:

1. Flax: It is also called linen fibre. Flax is a plant species that produces fibres that are strong, fine, and lustrous. Flax fibres are commonly used to produce linen fabric, which is known for its breathability and coolness against the skin.

2. Hemp: Hemp is a versatile plant that is grown for its fibres, seeds, and oil. The fibres are strong and durable, and are often used to make ropes, twines, and heavy-duty fabrics.

3. Jute: Jute is a plant fibre that is native to South Asia and is grown for its long, soft fibres. Jute fibres are commonly used to produce burlap, sackcloth, and other rough textiles.

4. Ramie: Ramie is a strong and silky. Ramie fibres are commonly used to produce fine fabrics and linens, and are often blended with other fibres to improve their strength and durability.

5. Kenaf: Kenaf is a plant species that is native to Africa and is grown for its fibres, which are long, strong, and fibrous. Kenaf fibres are used in the production of ropes, twines, and paper.

6. Bamboo fibre: Bamboo is a fast-growing grass that is grown for its stems, which are used for their fibres. Bamboo fibres are soft, strong, and absorbent. Bamboo is also an environmentally friendly crop as it requires few inputs and has a low impact on the environment.

7. Sisal: Sisal is a plant species that is grown for its fibres, which are strong and durable. Sisal fibres are often used to produce ropes, twine, and floor coverings, and they are also used in the production of textiles and paper.

8. Abaca (Manila Hemp): Abaca is a plant fibre that is native to the Philippines and is grown for its fibres, which are long, strong, and durable. Abaca fibres are often used to produce ropes, twines, and paper. Abaca is also used in the production of high-quality, durable fabrics, such as tea bags and banknotes.

Without above these there are also less important bast fibres:

  • Bagasse
  • Raffia
  • PiƱa
  • Agave
  • Eucalyptus
  • Wisteria
  • Pineapple
  • Moonstripe
  • Ivory Coast
  • Kudzu
  • Mulberry
  • Phormium (New Zealand Flax)

Properties / Characteristics of Bast Fibres:
The properties of bast fibres can vary depending on the specific species and how the fibres are processed. Bast fibre has several characteristics / properties that make them unique compared to other natural fibres. Some of the most important properties of bast fibre include:

  1. Strength: Bast fibres are typically strong and durable, making them suitable for applications where high strength is required.
  2. Flexibility: These fibres are flexible, which makes them ideal for use in a variety of applications, such as ropes and twine.
  3. Absorbency: They are highly absorbent, which makes them useful for producing fabrics that are comfortable against the skin, such as linen.
  4. Biodegradability: Bast fibres are natural and biodegradable, making them an environmentally friendly alternative to synthetic fibres.
  5. Eco-friendliness: These fibres are often grown using sustainable practices, and they require fewer inputs than many other crops, making them a more environmentally friendly option.
  6. Versatility: Bast fibres can be processed into a wide range of products, including textiles, paper, ropes, twine, and more.
  7. Softness: Some bast fibres, such as bamboo, are soft and luxurious to the touch, making them ideal for use in clothing and bedding.
  8. Moisture resistance: Bast fibres are often naturally resistant to moisture and bacteria, making them useful for producing fabrics that are durable and hygienic.

Uses / Application of Bas Fibres:
Bast fibres are versatile materials with a range of applications due to their unique properties. Bast fibers are commonly used in textile production due to their unique properties and versatility. Here are some of the most common uses of bast fibres in textiles:

a) Textile production: Bast fibres are used to produce a wide range of textiles, such as clothing, bedding, towels, and more.

b) Paper production: Paper products, such as paper bags, paper towels, and stationery can be produced from bast fibers.

c) Rope and twine: These fibres are used to produce strong and durable ropes and twine for a variety of applications, including mooring ships and securing loads.

d) Composite materials: Bast fibres can be combined with other materials to form composite materials, such as reinforced plastics, which are used in a variety of applications, including the construction of boats and vehicles.

e) Home textiles: These are used to produce a range of home textiles, such as curtains, towels, floor mats, rug, carpets and tablecloths.

f) Personal care products: These can be produced from bast fibres, such as facial tissues and hygiene products.

g) Agriculture: Bast fibres are used in the agriculture sector, such as for mulch, animal bedding, and erosion control.

h) Environmental protection: They are used for soil conservation, such as for soil erosion control and slope stabilization.

i) Industrial textiles: Bast fibres, such as hemp, are used to produce industrial textiles, including canvas and tarpaulins.

j) Upholstery: These fibres, such as jute, are used to produce upholstery for furniture, such as chairs, sofas, and ottomans.


  1. Bast and Other Plant Fibres Edited by Robert R Franck
  2. A Novel Green Treatment for Textiles: Plasma Treatment as a Sustainable Technology By Chi-wai Kan
  3. Handbook of Textile Fiber Structure | Volume 2: Natural, Regenerated, Inorganic and Specialist Fibers Edited by S.J. Eichhorn, J.W.S. Hearle, M. Jaffe and T. Kikutani
  4. Principles of Spinning: Fibers and Blow Room Cotton Processing in Spinning by Ashok R. Khare

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