At the manufacturing mills, bales of pulp are fed into a machine called a "hydrapulper," which resembles a giant electric blender. The hydrapulper, using giant rotating blades, separates the individual fibers in the pulp. Water is then added to form a mixture called "stock."
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Additional water is then added to the stock to make a dilute mixture, which is more than 99 percent water. The cellulose fibers in the water are then thoroughly separated in refiners before entering the process known as "forming." During the high-speed forming process, the fibers are molded into a sheet in less than a fraction of a second.
The next process is drying. A continuous mesh belt (resembling a window screen) carries the sheet from the forming section to the drying section. In the drying section, the sheet passes around a large honeycomb cylinder where hot air is forced through the fibers to dry the sheet. In just a few seconds the sheet travels the entire length of the paper machine (which is the size of a football field) and is dried to 95 percent fiber and only 5 percent water. Typically, much of the water used in the process is recycled. Water not reused is treated to remove contaminants prior to discharge. Careful controls and monitoring ensure that the water leaving the mill meets or exceeds water quality standards. A felt belt carries the sheet from the forming section to the drying section. In the drying section, the sheet is pressed onto the steam-heated drying cylinder and then scraped off the cylinder after it has been dried. The sheet is then wound into large rolls, called "parent rolls," which can be more than 50,000 feet long.
In the final process of the manufacturing process, known as "converting," the parent rolls are made into the Kleenex® facial tissue that consumers use every day in their homes. In the first stage of converting, the large rolls are placed on a machine called a "rewinder," where they are wound into smaller diameter rolls, called "logs." These logs are perforated to create individual sheets, then cut into appropriate lengths to create individual clips.
Finally, the clips go through a packaging process where they are inserted into boxes, so they can be shipped to retailers. See our infographic on how our facial tissues are made for more details.