The absorbency of a paper towel is measured by how much liquid it can hold and how fast it absorbs the liquid. Processes that affect absorbency are creping, embossing and ply.
Creping increases the strength and absorbency of a paper towel while decreasing the density and stiffness. The creping process creates pockets of space in the paper product by damaging the fiber bonds, according to "Handbook of Physical Testing of Paper."
Embossing on a paper towel is not merely decorative; it also increases its absorbency. Embossing entails "stamping" a pattern onto the towel during production. This creates raised sections that increase the absorbency of the towel.
Paper towels come in single ply and two-ply strength. Ply refers to the number of layers in the paper towel. Two-ply paper towels are bonded together using embossing and are thicker. This makes them more absorbent then single-ply paper towels.
Paper towels are tested for absorbency by the addition of drops of water. The experiment is timed and the amount of liquid is measured to conclude how much liquid a towel can hold and how fast it absorbs that liquid.
"Consumer Reports" tested 21 brands of paper towel to measure absorbency. A KABC-TV report summarized the findings, and it was determined that the best paper towels held up to three oz. of liquid and were the more expensive, premium brands.
- "Handbook of Physical Testing of Paper"; Richard E. Mark, Jens Borch, Charles Habeger; 1983
- ABC News/KABC: Which Paper Towels Really Get the Job Done?
- Sun Sentinel: Strength, Absorbency Keys To Paper Towels
- Embossing Technologies: Glossary of Terms
- Photo Credit water splash - bottle and water in a moment image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com Absorbent Paper image by Alfonso de TomÃ¡s from Fotolia.com
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