What Are Diapers Made Of?

Have you ever wondered what diapers are made of? We’ll take a look at the materials used in diapers and how they work to absorb wetness and keep your baby dry.

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Materials

Most diapers are made out of a plastic called polyethylene, which is combined with other materials like rayon, nylon, and polyester. The materials in diapers are chosen for their absorbency, durability, and comfort. Let’s take a closer look at the materials that make up a diaper.

Pulp

Pulp, usually made from wood fiber, is the main absorbent layer in diapers. In the United States, most pulp comes from softwood trees like southern yellow pine. Hardwood pulp, like eucalyptus, is sometimes used in disposable diapers outside of the United States because it’s more absorbent than softwood pulp.

The wood chips used to make pulp are first cooked in a chemical solution to break down the cell walls. This process, called pulping, separates the fibers so they can be cleaned and formed into a new product.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications. It is produced via chain-growth polymerization from the monomer propylene. Polypropylene belongs to the group of polyolefins and is partially crystalline and non-polar. Its properties are similar to polyethylene, but it is slightly harder and has a lower melting point. Polypropylene is a versatile plastic with many applications, including packaging, textiles, stationary, components for automobiles, reusable containers for foods and liquids, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers and carpeting.

Super Absorbent Polymer

Super absorbent polymers (SAPs) are a type of polymer that can absorb and retain large amounts of liquid relative to their own weight. They are commonly used in disposable diapers, feminine hygiene products, and adult incontinence products because of their high absorption capacity. SAPs are also used in agriculture and horticulture to improve water retention in soil.

Manufacturing

Disposable diapers are primarily made of cellulose, polypropylene, and polyethylene. A few other materials are also used in small quantities, such as elastics and adhesives. The distribution of materials varies depending on the type of diaper.

Pulp

Pulp comes from wood fiber and is the main ingredient in both cloth and disposable diapers. It’s super absorbent, meaning it can hold a lot of liquid, and it’s also biodegradable.

The pulp used in cloth diapers is usually a mix of rayon and polyester. The rayon is made from wood pulp that’s been chemically treated so it’s more absorbent, while the polyester helps to keep the diapers from leaking. Disposable diapers also use pulp, but they add a gel-like substance called sodium polyacrylate, which can absorb up to 300 times its weight in liquids.

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is a soft, flexible plastic used to make many types of goods, including diapers. It is similar to polyethylene, but it is stronger and can be made into finer filaments. Polypropylene filaments are often used in textiles, carpets, and ropes because they do not absorb water and are resistant to rotting.

Super Absorbent Polymer

The main component of diapers that allows them to be so absorbent is called super absorbent polymer (SAP). This is a water-loving, or hydrophilic, substance that can absorb and hold hundreds of times its weight in water and other liquids. Super absorbent polymers are usually long chain polymers with a molecular structure that gives them a large number of pores. These pores hold the liquid in the form of a gel.

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