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A kitchen roll (or kitchen paper) is an absorbent towel made from tissue paper instead of cloth. Unlike cloth towels, paper towels are disposable and intended to be used only once. Paper towels soak up water because they are loosely woven which enables water to travel between the fibers, even against gravity (capillary effect). Paper towels can be individually packed (as stacks of folded towels or held coiled) or come in rolls. Paper towels have similar purposes to conventional towels, such as drying hands, wiping windows and other surfaces, dusting and cleaning up spills.
In 1907, the Scott Paper Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, introduced paper tissues to help prevent the spread of colds from cloth towels in restrooms. Popular belief is that this was partly accidental and was the solution to a railroad car full of long paper rolls meant for toilet paper that were unsuitable to cut into rolls of toilet paper. In 1919, William E. Corbin, Henry Chase, and Harold Titus began experimenting with paper towels in the Research and Development building of the Brown Company in Berlin, New Hampshire. By 1922, Corbin perfected their product and began mass-producing it at the Cascade Mill on the Berlin/Gorham line. This product was called Nibroc Paper Towels (Corbin spelled backwards). In 1931, the Scott Paper Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, introduced their paper towel rolls for kitchens; they are now the leading manufacturer of paper towels.
Paper is made from either virgin or recycled paper pulp which is extracted from wood or fiber crops. They are sometimes bleached during the production process to lighten the paper's coloration. It is not uncommon for rolls of paper towels to include intricate colored images on each square (such as flowers or teddy bears). Resin size is used to improve the wet strength. Paper towels are packed individually and sold as stacks, or are held on a continuous roll, and come in two distinct classes: domestic and institutional. Many companies produce paper towels. Some of which include, but are not limited to: Charmin, Bounty, Seventh Generation, Scott, and Viva, among many others.
Tissue products in North American, including paper towels, can be divided into "consumer" and "commercial" markets, with household consumer usage accounting for approximately two thirds of total North American consumption. Commercial usage, or otherwise any use outside of the North American household, accounts for one third of North American consumption. The growth in commercial use of paper towels can be attributed to the migration from folded towels (in public bathrooms, for example) to roll towel dispensers, which reduces the amount of paper towels used by each patron.
Within the forest products industry, paper towels are a major part of the "tissue market", second only to toilet paper. Consumption of paper towels and other tissue products is highest in the United States of America at approximately 24 kilograms (53 lb) per capita and year (total approx. 7.8 thousand tonnes (7,700 long tons; 8,600 short tons) per year), 50% higher than in Europe and nearly 500% higher than in Latin America.
Paper towels are a global product with rising production and consumption. Being second in tissue consumption only to toilet paper (36% vs. 45% in the U.S.), the proliferation of the mostly non-recyclable paper towels has the same globally adverse effects on the environment as indicated in the tissue article. However, paper towels made from recycled paper do exist, and are sold at many outlets. Other better alternatives are still conventional towels or - for hand drying - hand dryers. Though paper towels are more efficient, after only ten seconds, paper towels achieve 90% dryness. Hot air dryers, on the other hand, take 40 seconds to achieve a similar dryness.
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Media related to paper towels at Wikimedia Commons