Everyone knows that cotton is used in clothing and other textiles, and many people have used cottonseed oil in cooking. But did you know cotton is used in many other daily items, like money and plastics? In fact, only about 65 percent of the world’s cotton production is used in fabrics or clothes, leaving 35 percent for a variety of other uses. Here are ten odd things you never knew were made of cotton:
Cottonseed oil is often used in soaps and cosmetics as a skin-conditioning agent. Its soft, natural fibers are gentle on skin and full of proteins, minerals and essential oils that protect skin from harsh elements.
Yes, dollar bills are made out of cotton. In fact, paper money is made up of 75 percent cotton and 25 percent linen, according to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. This means that if cotton prices rise, so does the cost of producing currency in the United States.
Cottonseed oil, once the main ingredient in Crisco shortening, is commonly used in margarine as well. The oil, high in polyunsaturated fats and vitamin E, can be a healthy alternative to butter.
Cotton can be used to make waterproof, humidity regulating tents that are even more durable than traditional polyester or nylon. Cotton-canvas tent blends are known to repel fire and water, while still being breathable and warm.
5. Fishing Nets
Fishing nets are commonly made from nylon and other polyamides, but historically they were made from fibrous plant materials, including cotton. Many fishing nets today are still made of cotton for environmental and decorative purposes, and are also great for catch and release fishing.
Recycled cotton has many uses, one of which is auto and home insulation. Cotton is reduced to its fibrous state and can then be used as insulation or stuffing.
7. Potato Chips
Many snack foods, including Utz potato chips, are cooked in cottonseed oil. It’s also used in mayonnaise, dressings, and many other commonly consumed foods. Most people never know they’re eating cottonseed oil because of its neutral flavor, which makes it a favorite among food producers.
Cotton is used in many bandages because of its absorbency and aeration. Cotton is pliable and can stretch to fit a range of patients, which is why it is used often in gauze and roll bandages.
9. Animal Feed
Animal feed products have been made of cottonseed for more than 200 years. Cottonseed hulls, cottonseed meal, and whole cottonseed are great natural protein, fiber, and energy sources for animals.
Cotton can be turned into nitrocellulose lacquer and used on cars, guitars, and airplanes to create a smooth finish. Nail polish is also often made of cotton lacquer, as it is not damaging to skin and dries quickly.
Who would have known that the plant found in your t-shirts and jeans had so many other uses? Cotton, because of its pliable fibers and adaptability, is a world resource used in everything from food to health care to cosmetics. Next time you’re reading an ingredient list or learning about a new product, check to see if cotton is included. It’s part of more than you think!