Jute VS Burlap
If you’ve been around natural fibres long enough, you’ve probably come across the terms jute and burlap. The two names are often used interchangeably, and most natural fibre enthusiasts don’t know when to use the term jute or Burlap given their striking physical similarities.
Even when buying products made from either material, it’s often difficult for buyers to determine whether the product is made from burlap or jute. The confusion between the two terms has been building up. It’s about time we tried to explain the differences and similarities between jute and burlap and make it easier for you to identify what you’re buying.
What is Jute?
Jute is a long, shiny and soft vegetable fibre often spun into a long course and strong threads. The fibre is produced from plants in the Corchorus genus and the Malvaceae family.
It is among the most abundant and affordable natural fibre in the world second only to cotton. The fibres are mainly composed of cellulose and lignin, which are plant materials. Industrially, jute is commonly called raw jute. The complete fibres often have an off-white to brown colour and can be up to four meters long. Because of its high cash value, jute is also called the golden fibre.
Characteristics of Jute
Jute has various unique characteristics, most of which it derives from the jute plants which it is made from. These characteristics include:
- Compared to traditional materials like cotton, jute is a coarse material.
- Jute tends to shed tiny fibres because it’s made from plant fibres.
- It’s common for jute fibres to have naturally occurring blemishes or imperfections.
- The fibre has a distinct earthy scent.
- Jute is not suitable for machine washing or drying.
Applications of Jute
Jute fibres have many applications. Some of the most common include:
- Making sacks and bags
- Making camp beds
- Horse covers
- The fibres can be weaved into ropes.
- Making mailbags
- Bedding foundations
- Handbags and other types of stiff bags
- Upholstery foundation
What is Burlap?
Burlap is not a fibre. It’s a fabric that is made using jute or hemp fibres. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why there’s often confusion between the two. Jute is the fibre that at times is used to make burlap which is a piece of fabric.
In cases where burlap is made from jute fibres, it shares the same characteristics with the jute fibres, which include the coarse feel and the earthy scent that are distinct from jute.
Applications of Burlap
The applications of burlap are more diverse because it is a fabric and can be used in many different ways. Burlap fabric can be used for:
- Making burlap pillowcases
- Camouflage nets
- Furniture upholstery
- Table linens
It’s evident that jute doesn’t compete with burlap or vice versa. Instead, burlap is a product of jute. However, it’s important to emphasise that burlap can also be made from other natural fibres like hemp fibres.
In cases where burlap is made from jute, then the products it proceeds to make are essentially made from jute as well.