The raw material cotton

Facts and figures

Raw materialCotton
Country of originÄgypten, USA, Indien, Pakistan, Brasilien, China
Moisture transport~
Drying time~
Tensible strength~/-
Smell development~
Skin sensibility++

The raw material cotton

The cotton plant is part of the family of mallow plants. It is very demanding concerning climatic conditions: it needs a lot of sunshine and approx. 200 frost-free days in order to fully ripe into the fruit. In addition it needs more than 500 mm of rain per year for a tidy growth. Cotton grows as a one year's plant and becomes 1 to 2 meters high.

From the blooms develop walnut-sized seed vessels that contain 3-5 boxes which burst at the time of ripeness. Each box contains up to 10 grains with 1000 to 7000 seed fibers, the cotton fibers. Due to genetic engineering, better irrigation methods and the more extensive use of chemicals the cotton production doubled itself in the last 30 years. In 2007 on already 43 % of the world-wide cultivation areas genetically modified cotton is grown.

Harvesting cotton

When harvesting the capsules are picked manually or mechanically. In order to harvest mechanically the cotton fields are defoliated by using herbicides. By harvesting manually cotton with higher quality and fewer contaminations is gained. But the workers do not receive appropriate wages and usually it is women and children working on the fields.


After the harvest the cotton fibers are separated from the seeds and capsule residues. The fibers are bundled and brought into the spinnery. There the bundles are picked into pieces and cleaned, combed and merged into bonds. In the spinning machine these bonds are twined into yarn, which is then being coloured and weaved on the loom.


Refinement of cotton has the objective to revalue the surface and equip the fabric a way that it:

is crease-resistant and has a soft graspcan be coloured easier absorbs little humidity and dirtdoes not shrink and keeps a stable form is protected against mould and bacteria

All cotton textiles are chemically treated in many ways.

Cotton and chemicals

The extensive cotton industry strongly depends on chemicals, cotton is the agricultural product with the highest use of fertilizers and pesticides. Cotton fields are treated with pesticides between 10 and 25 times. Since many of the pests themselves are resistant to genetically modified cotton as well as to many pesticides, every year more and more chemicals have to be used – a never ending vicious circle.

From the harvest to the finished textile the cotton is treated by up to 27 different chemicals.

The chemicals used for cotton production damage not only the land, but also the health of the farmers involved. The small farmers yield the pesticides with a backpack sprayer, without any protection for themselves. Here it comes to many poisonings among the farmers and their families.

Chillaz and chemicals

Chillaz is using high-quality cotton from Egypt, which is very dry and consists of particularly long and soft fibers. Thus we can do without softeners as well as stabilizers. For colouring we trust on Dyestar. These products together with those of Bayer are the most expensive ones on the market, but Dyestar guarantees that the products are harmless for people suffering allergies.

Silicone emulsions are used for more than 90% of the high-quality cotton fibers, in order to make their grasp more pleasant. But the silicone sticks the fibers together and limits thereby the positive characteristics of cotton.

Chillaz combines its cotton fibers with high-quality Modal fibers. As a result we obtain a very soft grasp and we need fewer colouring.

Environmental problems

Not only the use of chemicals represents a problem of cotton production, but also the extensive water consumption. Comparing the production of cotton with those of TENCEL® for instance, the hundredfold quantity of water is needed for cotton. The consequences of all the factors mentioned are a sinking ground-water level, salting and a contamination of the land as well as a contamination of the groundwater with pesticides

Organic cotton

In controlled biological agricultural systems cotton is being cultivated following defined standards.

Biologic cotton production does not use synthetic fertilizers or cultivate genetically modified species. That protects the health of humans as well as of useful animals, the land and the diversity of the naturally growing cotton plants.

In order to prevent a single- edge use of the land, different fruits are cultivated in changing order. The cultivation in change with food plants such as corn favours not only a more rapid recovery of the land, it also prevents cotton parasites from proliferating. Intercropping with peanuts for example effects that more insectivorous animals find breeding possibilities and as a consequence it prevents pests from taking over.

Instead of chemical fertilizers bio farmers use agricultural waste such as for example cow dung or compost. Thereby the land is protected and high costs for chemical fertilizers are saved and the high-quality cotton receives better prices on the market.

Organic cotton - disadvantages

The conversion into biological cultivation is cost-intensive and longsome. It takes approximately 3 years, in which the produced cotton does not yet receive the higher price on the market. The treatment of bio cotton to textiles is about 40 % more expensive, which restrains the sales of the final products compared to those made from conventional cotton. And last but not least chemicals play an important role for textile refinement - also with bio cotton.

Cerification of bio cotton

Certifying the bio cotton guarantees the biological origin of the product and supports the payment of bio bonuses to those farmers who engage themselves in biological agriculture. With the certificate "biologically controlled" an independent organization confirms that the farmer corresponds to defined standards. The certified farmers are controlled regularly and they have to make recordings about their production methods.

Unfortunately more and more companies try to enrich themselves with so-called bio cotton. Since the world-wide demand for bio cotton constantly increases, it ever more comes to grey imported goods. Up to date the threefold quantity of the bio cotton cultivated is sold. It is extremely difficult for a company to examine whether the cotton bought is biologically grown.

Chillaz and bio cotton

Since we cannot ensure our customers at 100% that the used cotton is a product with biological origin, we keep at present still distance from bio cotton. For the future however we plan to find reliable partners who deliver certified bio cotton