Has cotton ever been made into commercial rope? The answer is yes and not just in the past but there are many manufacturers of this type of rope in business today. The different varieties include not only rope but twine and cordage. You can find both 100% cotton rope and blended cotton rope on the market. Just like in cotton cloth, the type you use is dependent on how it is to be used and where.
One of the distinguishing differences between the 100% cotton rope and cotton blended ropes is that the all natural ropes made of 100% cotton are biodegradable. This allows it to be used around livestock, household pets and children with no possibility of it posing any danger. The 100% cotton rope is also softer to the touch than the blended varieties. It can be found being used in tents and hammocks, in the lead rope for a longer synthetic ropes, in harnesses for animals and on awnings. It is also the most widely used type of rope for decorations and decorating with. One of the challenges with 100% cotton ropes is that it will mildew if allowed to remain wet over an extended period of time. To help solve this dilemma, there has been the development of a mildew treatment that can now be applied to the all cotton ropes which inhibits the growth of mildew. The tensile strength of this rope varies depending on it thickness. A 3/16” diameter 100% cotton rope can have a tensile strength up to 319. A ½” rope can have a tensile strength up to 1500.
If the 100% cotton rope is braided instead of having the three strands twisted together as in traditional rope, the tensile strength increases. A 3/16” diameter braided rope has a tensile strength of 525 and the ½” has a tensile strength of 2100.
You can also find blended Cotton Cable cord on the open market today. This is made with a combination of cotton and polyester. This blend has an increased strength over the 100% cotton rope and is used mainly today in the fishing and construction industries. Many will recognize it who have worked with masonry. This is the cord most brick layers use when placing a layer of bricks in a row so they are assembled in a straight line.
For comparison a polyester braided cord can have a tensile strength of 650 for a 3/16” line. This is higher than what a 100% cotton rope can handle, but there is a trade off. This type of rope is not biodegradable. It is also rougher in texture and is easier to cause a burn on the people that are handling it if the rope passes too quickly thru their grip. It is naturally mildew resistant because of the material it is made from. It is not safe to have small children or animals near it since they might place it in their mouths and begin to chew on it.