Wool – Uses, Botanical Source, Characters, and Chemical Constituents


Animal Wool, Sheep’s Wool

Biological source:

Wool consists of the hairs of the fleece of the sheep, Ovis aries Linn., family Bovideae.

Geographical source:

Wool is produced and exported by the U.S.A., Australia, Argentina, Russia and the British Isles.

Preparation of wool:

The hairs are cut from the sheep at appropriate intervals and dirts removed by beating on a sieve screen. The dirt-free hairs are then thoroughly cleansed by washing with soap and sodium carbonate. The wool is then bleached with sulphur dioxide or hydrogen peroxide, thoroughly washed and dried by hot air on wire netting.

Macroscopical and microscopical characters:

Wool occurs as a loose, soft mass of elastic, lustrous curly hairs. When pulled, a wad of wool separates out with considerable resistance due to the clinging nature of the hairs. The individual hairs are sub-cylindrical, more or less curved, 2 to 50 cm in length, 5 to 100 um in diameter. They are covered with imbricated flattened epithelial scales. A darker coloured narrow band is present along the central axis of the hairs. When treated with CUOXAM the fibres do not produce swellings, but stain blue. They are insoluble in 80 percent sulphuric acid.


Wool fibres are composed almost entirely of the protein keratin, which contains C, H, 0, N, and S.


Wool is used in the manufacture of dressings like flannel domette and crepe bandages. Wool fibres and their yarns are of immense commercial value for their use in the textile industries for manufacturing warm fabrics.

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