Machinery was invented for disintegrating the leaves and freeing the fibre, and at the same time experiments were made with the view of obtaining it by water-retting, and by means of alkaline solutions and other chemical agencies.
The various operations through which the crop passes from this point till flax ready for the market is produced are - (i) Pulling, (2) Rippling, (3) Retting, (4) Drying, (5) Rolling, (6) Scutching.
Retting or rotting is an operation of the greatest importance, and one in connexion with which in recent years numerous experiments have been made, and many projects and processes put forth, with the view of remedying the defects of the primitive system or altogether supplanting it.
From the earliest times two leading processes of retting have been practised, termed respectively water-retting and dew-retting; and as no method has yet been introduced which satisfactorily supersedes these operations, they will first be described.
If allowed to remain under water too long, the fibre is weakened by what is termed " over-retting," a condition which increases the amount of codilla in the scutching process; whilst " under-retting " leaves part of the gummy or resinous matter in the material, which hinders the subsequent process of manufacture.
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