Paper Towels Facts

Little-known Yet Fascinating Facts About the Useful Paper Towels

A disposable, thick tissue paper that helps to minimize the spread of germs, read on to know its interesting facts
ScienceStruck Staff
Last Updated: Aug 7, 2018
tissue holder
We are so used to paper towels in our kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms, that thinking of a life without these towels, is impossible. But who came up with these brilliant pieces of soft paper that are so versatile?
Invention of Paper Towels
The story of the paper towel goes back to the year 1907 when Philadelphia was suffering from bouts of an epidemic. It was then that a local school teacher observed that this epidemic was spreading like fire on a haystack because of the germs that thrived in cloth napkins that were repeatedly used and not disposed off.
So, he hit upon the idea of cutting out square bits of notebook paper which were of the softer variety and distributing it among the children. He then instructed his pupils to use those scraps of paper only once to either blow their noses or sneeze and then throw it away immediately, without using it twice or leaving it lying about.
Around the same time, Arthur Scott of the Scott Paper Company happened to have procured several parent scrolls of a variety of crêpe tissues, for the purpose of experimentation and one particular carload of these crêpe tissues was faulty.
The problem was that they were so thick and heavy that cutting them into smaller rolls of toilet paper was not viable and disposing off such a huge supply an even bigger issue. Thankfully, the notebook-paper-towel idea had reached his ears and he immediately got to work.
He instructed that these thick sheets must be punched and made into individual sheet towels and then sold it to people under the product name of "Sani-Towels" with the tagline "For use once by one user". He later rechristened these use-and-throw paper towels as ScotTissue Towels.
He later launched perforated paper towel kitchen rolls in the year 1931 and by 1933, ScotTissue was wooing the public by its "wet strength" or power to absorb and versatility. So, now you know that it was the simple and ingenious effort of a humble school teacher that led to the revolutionary discovery of what is a must-have in every household today!
Facts on Paper Towels
It was the revolutionary invention of the paper towel and wide availability of it that actually allowed numerous state legislative bodies to forbid by law the use of cloth towels which helped the spreading of multiple maladies. Scott Paper Company even publicized its paper towels as a tool to eliminate the rampant circulation of "social diseases".
Once the Sani-Towels became a rage among people, Scott cashed in on the success further by launching 13" x 18"-sized kitchen towels in 1931. With a base weight of 20 to 24 g/m2, paper towels are either made completely from 100% chemical pulp or 100% recycled fiber. In certain cases, paper towels are manufactured from a combination of both these components.
To make paper towels absolutely white, bleach is mixed with the paper pulp while the towels are being made. Colored paper towels (domestic and industrial) are also available in the market and were launched not more than 30 years ago.
These days, one can also purchase colorful and vibrant paper towels from the market. These towels usually have designs and patterns (flowers, diamonds or circles) imprinted on them in conspicuous colors. This process of imprinting of patterns serves two purposes - makes the product visually appealing and increases the absorbing power of the towels.
Paper towels are generally made of three layers of thin paper which boosts their absorbing powers, while the addition of some long fiber chemical pulp boosts the strength of the towels. You can either buy yourself stacks of folded individual paper towels or rolls of perforated towels that can be inserted into a holder and used in the kitchen or bathroom.
While the 14th Century Chinese emperors were the first ones to ask for 2 x 3 foot sheets to be made for using it as toilet paper, the kudos for manufacturing the first toilet paper in the U.S. is given to Joseph C. Gayetty from New York.
In 1857, "Gayetty's Medicated Paper" was made available in the market and Gayetty's name was imprinted on each of the flat sheets of toilet paper moistened with aloe vera.
The toilet paper rolls that we see today were largely marketed and popularized by two companies, namely, Albany Perforated Wrapping (A.P.W.) Paper Company in 1877 and to the Scott Paper company in 1890. The Scott Paper Company branded their product as Waldorf.
The first Waldorf rolls were not perforated and were dispensed from holders that had serrated teeth for cutting off the paper. Toilet paper rolls consist of two layers of paper towels placed one on top of the other. This layering is referred to as 2-ply. Also, toilet paper can actually be made from recycled paper or virgin paper.
Paper towels are usually segregated according to their principal quality which could be either absorbency, strength, thickness or weight. Statistics show that paper towel usage happens ⅓rd in public places (restaurants, hotels, public toilets, hospitals), whereas ⅔rds of it takes place at home.
Those paper towels which are made from recycled paper pulp is not only good because they lessen the power consumption by half, but also need the cutting down of lesser number of trees.
Also, different brands are known to be good for different purposes. For instance, while Viva is very smooth and soft which makes it ideal for nasal use in a cold, Sparkle paper towels are usually longer than others by at least two inches. Bounty soaks faster, Scott is a better absorber of oily liquids as well as a money saver if you buy the product in bulk.
GreenX tissue papers are of course made from recycled pulp, so that makes them a great choice automatically. Besides, GreenX papers are rather tough so they do not tear easily and thus can be used to absorb a great deal for a longer period of time.
Finally, Marcal tissues, "Earth-Friendly Paper Goods Company", also makes recycled towels which are great for cleaning glass panes and furniture. There are also many other brands available in the market, such as recycled Seventh Generation White, which you can choose from.
So, there you have all the paper towels facts that you need to know. Also a large number of trees are being cut everyday for this reason and a large amount of garbage is generated simultaneously. So, economize on the number of towels you use on a daily basis and do not waste it. Try to use recycled paper towels so that you also do your bit for the nature.