How wool is scoured and combed into wool tops
In our latest video documentary episode 4, we go on a tour around the Fuhrmann scouring and combing mill in Trelew. Industrial Director of the mill, Horacio Duran, explains each step of how the greasy wool from the farm gets processed into wool tops.
The moment the wool arrives from the farm it is being weighed. In addition, a sample is taken from each bale in order to measure all the specifications of the wool such as fineness, yield and VM (short for vegetable matter). This is done in a laboratory certified by the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) in order to ensure measurements are being done in accordance with the industry standards.
The next step is to classify the wool into different qualities. This step is done by very skilled staff members. Even if most of the wool bought has already been sorted on the farm, at Fuhrmann we reclassify 100% of the wools purchased to be absolutely certain of the wool we put into our machines.
Once all wool is sorted the wool gets scoured, which means in other words, the wool gets washed in warm water and soap. At Fuhrmann this process is GOTS. The scouring process removes the dirt and grease which sits on top of the wool. The dirt is later used in pastures that will later feed sheep whilst the grease is purified into lanolin and used in cosmetics and other uses.
After scouring, the clean wool gets dried and heads on over to the next process called carding. Carding has two purposes: The first one is to open up the fibres to remove any remaining dirt and part of the vegetable matter like grass or seeds from the Patagonian grasslands. The second one is to get all fibres parallel to each other and into a continued thick thread. It also blends the wool so that uniformity of the whole lot is perfect.
To ensure all fibres are really parallel, the carded wool continues through 3 machines that continue the parallelizing process.
Next, the wool continues into the combing machines. Here the aim is to remove any leftover vegetable matter as well as any small knots. At this point, we may also blend the production of different combing machines in order to create the exact quality our customers need.
The combed wool looks like a continuous thread of thick wool yarn put together in the form of a so-called Bump. We store the bumps by putting them in bales. One bale holds 300 kilos full of comped wool bumps.
These bales are stored in our warehouse ready for export together with the IWTO test certificate providing detailed information about the quality of each bale of wool. As we store everything in our own warehouse we always know exactly where each bale of wool comes from, how it was processed and where it is at any given time. This helps our customers create their own traceable supply chain.