By Jessica Domel

Take a drive through Texas this time of year and you’re bound to find a field or two of white, fluffy cotton.

It’s an economic staple in Texas, and we’re the top cotton-producing state!

Cotton undergoes an amazing transformation to get from fields to our homes.

First, it’s not just used for our favorite fabric.

Cottonseed can be processed into a meal that cattle like to eat.

It can also be used to create a cooking oil. Like potato chips or mayonnaise? Check the ingredients label. Chances are, it has cottonseed oil in it.

Although there are many uses for cotton, it’s perhaps best known for its use in clothing items like T-shirts and blue jeans.

It takes quite a transformation to turn a white, fluffy cotton boll into a soft pair of jeans.

First, the cotton must be stripped or picked out of the field. Both machines, although different, remove the cotton from its woody-like plant in the field.

It’s then rolled into a round bale like hay or it’s formed into a large, loaf-like module to make transporting large quantities of cotton easier.

When cotton modules or bales arrive at a cotton gin, they’re taken apart. The cotton is then dried and cleaned. Cottonseed and the fiber are then mechanically separated.

The seed is then sent on to be processed into oil or meal and used in foods, cosmetics and more.

The fiber then takes an extra journey to a mill where it can be woven into the cloth used to make our sheets, towels and other products.

Fabrics then head to warehouses, shipping companies, textile manufacturers and eventually to retailers where you’ll buy your new favorite shirt.

Did you know: one bale of cotton can make:

  • 215 jeans
  • 249 bed sheets
  • 690 Terry bath towels or
  • 1,256 pillow cases.

Texas cotton makes quite a transformation from the fluffy bolls in the field to our favorite clothing, but it’s a process that’s well worth the wait.