The first few times we purchased greasy (raw wool as it comes off the sheep), Bollman Industries scoured (cleaned) our wool. As the size of our purchases has grown, we have been able to switch over to scouring by Chargeurs (click to visit company website), who has equipment more suited to our type of wool, but mostly requires much larger volumes than we had first purchased.
After we purchase the wool from the Ranchers, it must be cleaned. Raw wool, also known as greasy wool in the trade, contains significant amounts of dirt and vegetable matter and, more importantly, lanolin.
Scouring removes all the undesirable material, which is a very large percentage (by weight) of greasy wool. Lanolin can comprise 10% of the weight, and vegetable matter and other debris as much as 40% of the weight of raw wool.
Chargeurs and Bollman are the only two commercial-sized scourers still operating in the USA. We first visited Chargeurs in South Carolina in 2010, not long after we had decided to make clothing. Even at the time, we realized how remarkable it was that Diego Paullier, manager of the huge Chargeurs plant, spent hours with us ... touring the installation, explaining and demonstrating how everything worked, and why.
It's taken 10 years, but I hope now that we have grown large enough to work with Chargeurs, Diego's time all those years ago seems worthwhile. Debby and I are surprised he even remembers ... maybe he thought we were crazy?!
In 2020, Debby and I visited Diego again, as we were finally working with him. At the time, we had no reason to suspect how much we would be relying on Diego's team to rescue us from the problems created by Hurricane Ida and the Flood of 2021! Nobody was hurt in the flood, and compared to many others, our troubles were very trivial. After some excitement and a very-unplanned trip to South Carolina, Chargeurs got the fiber for Batch 7 and Batch 8 back on track with only minimal loss.
Batch 9 will bring us to a new level of interaction with Chargeurs. Because Batch 9 is about 43,000 pounds (19,500 kg) greasy, it large enough for Chargeurs to do custom combing for us. I have only just created the combing page as a placeholder from which to build.
27 July 2022 --- Ralph