Fibres used for finer fabrics and yarn include
Cotton used to make cotton
Flax is used to make linen. It is one of the strongest vegetable fibres.
Wools include
Sheep’s wool in a range of weights and qualities
Alpaca wool used to make high-end luxury fabrics.
Angora wool -The silky white wool of the Angora rabbit is very fine and soft, and used in high quality knitwear
Mohair also from the Angora goat.
Cashmere wool comes from cashmere goats and has great insulation properties without being bulky
Silk is strong and light weight.

Coarse Fibres for rope, string, sacking and industrial uses include:
Abaca -Once a favoured source of rope, abaca shows promise as an energy-saving replacement for glass fibres in automobiles
Coir -A coarse, short fibre extracted from the outer shell of coconuts, coir is found in ropes, mattresses, brushes, geotextiles and automobile seats. Can also be used in a brush rather like a bristle.
Jute -The strong threads made from jute fibre are used worldwide in sackcloth – and help sustain the livelihoods of millions of small farmers
Sisal -Too coarse for clothing, sisal is replacing glass fibres in composite materials used to make cars and furniture.
Copied from Natural Fibres

Hessian /ˈhɛsi.ən/, burlap in America and Canada,[1] or crocus in Jamaica,[2] is a woven fabric usually made from skin of the jute plant[3][4][5] or sisal fibres,[6] which may be combined with other vegetable fibres to make rope, nets, and similar products. Gunny cloth is similar in texture and construction.

Hessian, a dense woven fabric, has historically been produced as a coarse fabric, but more recently it is being used in a refined state known simply as jute as an eco-friendly material for bags, rugs and other products.


Natural fibre brushes come in many sizes – you can get everything from big bristly brushes for sweeping yards to cute scrubbers for your nails. They  can be used for sweeping, brushing, scrubbing and scouring.

If you don’t know your Piassava from your Pasodoble read the following:

Bassine is a coarse leaf fiber from palmyra palms. It is inexpensive and durable. It is used to make stiff sweeping brushes often used outdoors.
Natural Coco Fibre (COIR)  comes from the husk of the Coconut tree. It is softer than bassine so more liable to crush and splay. Makes a good soft sweeping brush.
Black Coco Fibre (DYED COCO) is coloured natural coco and has exactly the same properties.
Flagged Black Fibre is specially treated dyed coco fibre where the ends have been flagged or split. It sweeps better than plain coco fibre.

Bahia Piassava (BASS) is a stiff fibre harvested from trees. It is water resilient and doesnt distort. It comes from Bahia in Brazil.
Arenga (GUMATI ) Arenga fiber is harvested from the Arenga Pinnata Palm in Indonesia. Arenga is softer and finer than Bahia Paissava. It is very hard wearing and resilient
Tampico Fibre is from the lecheguilla plant (Agaves Sisalana, Agave Foreyodes) grown in Mexico. Good wearing and reasonable sweeping qualities, but is liable to crush. It is also very water absorbent, and non-electrostatic, so that the brushes remain dust free. The natural colour varies from green to yellowish-white although the fibre can also be black or brown as well as grey. The material is used extensively for making yard brooms, panel brushes, deck brushes, nail brushes and bath brushes.
Cereal root is the root of a species of grass, zacaton plant, which grows on the high plateaux of Mexico. The roots of the Zacaton are cut from the plant, washed clean from soil and transported to a preparation factory. Cereal root is a tought, elastic and water-resistant material which is used for vegetable brushes and washing-up brushes.
Union mixture is a mixture of white fibre and bassine. It´s a strong and water-resistant mixture which is used for vegetable brushes, deck brushes and scrubbing brushes

With thanks to Ravibrush  and  irishantverk for the above information

Animal Derived Bristles
The most commonly known uses for animal bristle and hairs are
Boars hair is used for hairbrushes.
Feathers for dusters
Paint brushes for decorating and art

But almost every other animal hair, feather or bristle can be used for something it seems.
Camel Hair Brushes
Goat Hair Brushes
Hog / China Bristle Brushes
Horse Hair Brushes
Ox Hair Brushes
Pony Hair Brushes
Red Sable Brushes
Sabeline Brushes
Squirrel Hair Brushes

Decorating Brushes
Paint brushes are made from either synthetic fibres or natural hairs. Natural hair brushes are usually Chinese Hog or badgers hair and are recommended for use with oil based paints as they flow more smoothly and actually paint on the surface rather than simply “spread” the paint about. Synthetic brushes, e.g. Nylon or Ployester can be used with all paints but their use with water based, emulsion paints, is more usual. Chinese hog bristles absorb water which makes using them with water based paints very difficult and getting a good finish is almost impossible. Other natural fibres used for good quality paint brushed are Camel hair brushes, Squirrel hair brushes and Sable hair brushes.

Synthetic Bristles

Polypropylen (PPN) PPN
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
Flagged PVC/PPN

Easy enough to spot when they are used alone but sometimes they are mixed with natural fibres. Do check carefully. Ask if any of the above have been used or look carefully at the bristles. Here is an scrub brush

Find reviews of natural fibre sweeping brushes here

2 thoughts on “Natural fibres & bristles

Leave a Reply