Coconut coir which is also known as coconut fiber is a natural fiber that is obtained from the external part of a coconut husk. In the past, people never understood the importance of coconut coir. The inside part of coconut was the only significant part while the entire husk was discarded as a waste material. In recent times, the value of coconut coir has been made familiar and is now a part of our lives. The two main types of coconut fiber are brown fiber (fully ripe coconut) or white fiber (not mature). Other categories include the bristle coir and the buffering coir. Therefore the color of the fiber depends on the ripening stage of the coconut at the time of extraction. Brown fiber is quite hard, usually soaked in water to soften it, and make it swell.
White fiber is suspended in a water body or water system and left for about ten months to give room for the breakdown of plant tissues on the fiber surfaces (broken down by micro-organisms). Once the fiber strands are loose, they are drawn separate by hand, dried and cleaned. Coconut coir is waterproof, durable and long-lasting. It is made useful in the fabrication process of many products and materials. It is also environmentally friendly (recyclable) since it is 100% natural. It was introduced into the commercial market of western countries in the early 19th century and has since acquired great applications. Across the globe, Sri Lanka and India are the most significant producers of coconut coir, producing up to 90% of the total fiber in the market. Sri Lanka is the most significant exporter of coconut coir in the world.
Simple Process Of Making Coconut Coir
Acquiring coconut coir is an extensive and time-consuming process. First separate coir from the coconut. Do this by soaking the husks in water then left to dry for an extended period (more than a year). After it is completely dried up, it forms bales. These are then chopped and undergo different processes to suit desired preferences. It can then be transported, sold and used for both domestic and industrial use.
Coconut coir is first and for most used to make ropes. Being resistant to damage by seawater, coconut fiber is used to make fishing nets and to accessorize boats. It is also used in the mattress industry to make mattresses for domestic use. Floor mats and carpets are also a product made from coconut fiber. They are very convenient since they are warm and comfortable to maintain. They are very popular in homes, hospitals, and offices. It is used as a shock absorbent in the transport sector, to transport goods safely to their final destination. Aside from this, coconut coir of good quality is used to make vehicle and railway seats. They are also used to make domestic brushes for home use. These brushes include brooms, hand brushes, and laundry brushes. They are long-lasting and provide great sweeps and cleaning.
In the agricultural sector, coconut coir is made useful in a variety of ways. First, it is a substrate (contains cellulose and lignin necessary for the thriving of mushrooms) in the germination of mushrooms. It also has a large number of beneficial fungus essential for the biological control of pathogenic plant fungi. It is also used in a terrarium to feed reptiles, arachnids and many more. Coconut coir can also act like traditional peat since it is absorbent like a sponge. It is also used to condition soil since it has a well- balanced nutrient content. Due to its porous nature, it is used on slippery floors to provide friction and to avoid unnecessary accidents. It can also be used to make household furniture. In this case, it is used as an accessory for furniture to make great finishes and quality pieces.
In the engineering sector, a couple of uses have been made possible by coconut coir. It has been used to develop long-lasting and desirable bulletproof vests. It is much economical and lighter. On the other hand, it is useful in the manufacture of motorcycle helmets. It is also helpful in a wide variety of car parts such as making floorboards, interior door covers and trunk liners of large and small vehicles. Aside from these, coconut coir is helpful as reinforcement in wall paneling systems. For house construction purposes, coconut coir can take the place of other construction materials such as bricks, blocks, tiles, and plywood. Lastly, coconut coir is used to stabilize slopes by providing firm support. Other uses include controlling gully erosion and filtration of road drains.
Pros And Cons Of Coconut Coir
Coconut coir has both positive and negative impacts. First, it is a suitable absorbent by nature and environmentally friendly. For plants growing in favorably high retention soils, they anchor well in coconut coir. It is safe for the environment despite the fact that it can take up to 20years to decompose. Another advantage is that it minimizes the comfort of harmful insects in gardens, therefore, making it an integrated pest management mechanism for farmers. On the contrary side, coconut coir is inert (lacks nutrients). Use of this fiber, therefore, calls for the need to add nutrients while using it for agricultural purposes. Additional supplements such as magnesium and calcium are necessary. It also requires frequent rehydration in use for agricultural purposes. Coconut coir is quite disadvantageous to farmers especially regarding energy and time factors.
In conclusion, coconut coir is an essential part of many domestic and industrial products. Coir is an extract from the hard outer part coconut, and it creates many value-added products. The fact that it is natural and friendly to the environment, more people ought to be encouraged to use coir-based products. A large number of people are yet to get a full understanding of the whole concept of coconut coir. More industries and households should maximize the use of coir-based products for the betterment of humanity and the environment as a whole. The advantages of coir are much more than the disadvantages, considering its natural properties.