Flax Processing

1 Rippling or Seed Removal

The object of this operation is to retrieve the flax seeds from the seed pod, either after pulling or before scutching. The seed -"flax seed" or "linseed" is used either as seed for next year's crop, or for the production of "linseed oil". After extraction of the linseed oil, a residue is left. This is "cattle cake" and because of its high protein content is a much sought after cattle food.
.Flax seed pods
Flax staw green and retted

2 Retting

Dew retting

Retting is a process during which, with the help of micro-organisms, the adhesive substances or pectins that bind the fibres together and the rest of the plant are partially decomposed. This operation precedes scutching . Several "retting" methods are used:

3 Scutching

Worker at the scutching machine
This is a mechanical operation which, by breaking and beating tha flax straw, separates the textile fibres in the sterm of the plant from the woody matter and the bark. The straw is first broken by feeding it between a pair of round toothed cylinders. The broken strw is then rubbed and beaten by turbine blades, which remove the short fibres (tow) and the waste woody matter (shiv or shive). The layer of fibre which is produced by the scutcher is then separated into "hands". Scutching therefore produces the following products:

No part of the flax plant is wasted. The seeds produce linseed oil and cattle cake ; the plant produces long and short fibres, and shiv.


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