Conditioning Advice

Processing rope by soaking, boiling, steaming or baking damages integrity, and the first time you apply longitudinal tension to the rope you will hear it creaking and cracking. This is the sound of microtears as the filaments move and break.

Jute is photosensitive long after cropping. Photochemical changes to the middle lamella will reduce cohesion between cells in the filaments.

Excessive temperature also weakens jute, so it should be kept away from heat sources.

To conditioned your rope, we recommend you tumble dry, first to remove loose fibres, and then using an oil-wax ‘butter’ mixed with a ratio of 7:3. Jojoba oil and beeswax are popular. Tsubaki oil may also be used. We advise avoiding oils that become rancid.

The best temperature setting is enough to blend the butter into the rope without being too hot. Rope ends must be secure to prevent unravelling. Avoid putting the rope in a bag, as this will not allow loose fibre to escape.

Blend your butter by gently melting in a pan and pour into a strong glass to cool. The oil–wax blend determines the feel of the rope in handling. Too much oil makes the mix penetrate too deep, making the rope heavier and greasy. Too much wax makes the rope sticky and difficult to work with. Butter should be used sparingly and added as a lump to the loose rope in the final drying cycle. Only use 2 to 3gm of butter per kg of rope.

As loose fibres come out of the rope, they may clog the tumble dryer filter, and it should be cleaned between cycles. 2 x 30-minute cycles remove most loose fibre.

After tumbling, the ropes will be tangled and covered in loose fibres. Avoid wearing dark clothing. Do not pull aggressively on the ropes. Lay the bundle on a surface that is easy to vacuum and gently coax each rope free. Hang over a spar and jerk each line to remove excess loose fibres.

Singe remaining hairs through a clean blue flame at approx. 40cm per second. If slower, it risks scorching. Be aware loose fibre can easily ignite.

Wipe the ropes with a jojoba oil laden cloth. Be careful not to apply too much. Rope should be wiped once in both directions for balance. Hang over a spar for 24 hours to let the oil soak in. Conditioning is a repeatable process.

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