Readers, Department of Textiles
& Clothing, Lady Irwin College, Delhi University
The attainment of
puberty in women is signified by menarche, the age of onset of menstruation.
During menstruation, use of some kind of a protection in the form of a pad or
napkin is mandatory. The kind of sanitary protection practised during
menstruation can determine the hygiene status of a woman, which can affect her
reproductive health levels.
Many feminine hygiene
products are available in the Indian market, their cost ranging between Rs.
2.40 - 7.5 / napkin. With this cost profile, these products are being utilized
mostly by the upper middle and high-income group women. Also, the high product cost is a major deterrent in its utilization by the people of the low-income category.
A need was thus felt to develop a low cost technology for the manufacture of products for sanitary protection, utilizing textile waste materials with similar properties.
A sanitary napkin
basically comprises of three layers; top layer, absorbent layer and barrier
sheet. The absorbent layer is the key component of the napkin and the extent to
which this layer is able to absorb and retain the fluid determines the
efficiency of the napkin. This bulk layer of a napkin is a non woven web, made
of hydrophilic cellulosic staple fibers like wood pulp, cotton linters, viscose
etc (IS: 5405 1981). Most of the wood pulp used for the purpose is imported,
and therefore expensive, increasing the overall cost of a sanitary napkin.
Cotton is seen as a major fiber poised to replace wood pulp especially in the
feminine hygiene products where less bulky is preferred and thinner is
better. The high cost of cotton is the reason why it has not been able to
replace pulp (Egelsbach, 2002). Hence, the possibility of using cotton of the
low cost knitwear waste is most appropriate to achieve value at less cost. The
waste of the knitwear sector is typically from fully-fashioned garments or the
traditional cutnsew techniques. The cost of this cutting and sewing edge
waste varies from Rs.2 to 10 / Kg.
In the present study,
an attempt has been made to develop low cost sanitary napkins by utilizing
cotton fiber from knitwear waste. The process has been optimized and evaluation
of the final product was done with respect to performance, comfort and hygiene
parameters. The quality of the developed product was compared using specified
parameters with four major brands of sanitary napkins in the Indian markets.
Step I: Evaluation
of the Branded Sanitary Napkins Available In the Markets
16 varieties of sanitary napkins of 4 major brands i.e.,
Stayfree, Whisper, Kotex and Shapers were evaluated in terms of physical and
The cost profile of each brand and special features advertised
on their package cover were also compared. The Physical Parameters tested
The fibre analysis of the selected sanitary napkin was done
layer wise, using the standard AATCC test methods. Preliminary identification was
done using a light Microscope; the longitudinal view of the fibres was viewed
under the microscope. Chemical analysis of each layer was done to confirm the
nature of fibers. Solubility tests were conducted to identify the cellulosic
fibers and type of synthetic fibers. Melting Point process was used to identify
the type of Polyolefin fiber, viz. Polypropylene and Polyethylene.
Scanning Electron Micrographs (SEM) of the pulp fibers of regular
type napkins was prepared to ascertain the nature of cellulose fiber used.
2. Determination of pH
The pH of sanitary napkins was tested using the aqueous
extracts of the samples by the cold method. The IS: 5405-1981 specification for sanitary napkins,
specifies the test method for testing pH of a sanitary napkin.
3. Determination of Absorbency and ability to withstand
Pressure after Absorption
This test was conducted as per the IS: 5405-1981. The time
taken for the fluid to get completely absorbed by the napkin and the area of
the spread of the fluid was noted. The sides and back of the napkin were
observed for any fluid leaking through after placing a one Kg weight on it.