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Natural wax coating Researchers from Aalto University (Finland; www.aalto.fi) have developed a new way of making garments water-resistant, without using toxic chemicals. The treatment is non-toxic, and does not impair breathability. The coating uses carnauba wax from Brazilian palm-tree leaves. This wax is already used in medicines and foodstuffs, as well as the surface treatment of fruits and car waxes. During the processing, the wax is thawed and decomposed in water into wax particles that are anionic, just like cellulose. For the wax particles to adhere well to the cellulose surface, something cationic is needed as a buffer. In previous studies, a natural protein called polylysine was used for this. However, as doctoral student Nina Forsman points out, “polylysine is very expensive, so in our current study, it’s been substituted with a much cheaper, cationic starch that’s already commercially available.” Though cationic starch is not quite as effective as polylysine, two layers of the starch mixed with two wax particles are sufficient to make the textile waterproof. The wax coating can be applied to the textile by dipping, spraying or brushing onto the surface of the textile. In industrial-scale production, wax treatment…
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