Sisal fibers are very long, with creamy, yellowish, greenish, brownish, or reddish color. They are coarse, strong, and durable and have the ability to stretch. The sisal fiber is resistant to bacterial damage and deterioration in saltwater. It is a good insulation too.
Sisal Fiber Extraction
The fiber must be extracted very soon after the leaf has been cut. The fiber would be damaged during the cleaning process, if the leaf dries. The process of extracting the fiber, which is called decortication, has 3 levels:
_ crushing the leaves
_ scraping away the fleshy pulp
_ cleaning the long fiber (with water or brush)
_ hanging the fibers in lines to dry
Uses of sisal fiber
High grade sisal fibers which are long are made into yarns either on their own or in blends with wool or acrylic for using in carpets. Medium grade fibers are used for making cordage, ropes and twine, in agriculture and industry; the sisal fibers are resistant to deterioration by salt water so they are used in marine environments. Low grade and shorter fibers are used in the paper industry because of the high content of cellulose and hemicellulose
One of the traditional uses for sisal is baler twine, as the fiber is long lasting and flexible. This use, however, has greatly decreased as the twine is being replaced by polypropylene and at the same time new harvesting technology uses much less twine. Sisal is still the best material for making dartboards.
Sisal is being used in composites instead of fiberglass to reinforce components if the automotive and aircraft industry. Sisal is also being used in the construction industry as cement reinforcement for low cost housing, as plaster reinforcement and for roofing materials, as well as insulation. Sisal is also great as a buffing cloth as it is strong enough to polish steel, and soft enough not to scratch it. Another use for sisal is as a geotextile in land reclamation, stabilization of slopes and road construction. It also makes good cat scratching posts.