Toilet paper is an essential household product that most of us use multiple times a day without much thought. However, not all toilet paper is created equal. The texture, strength, absorbency, environmental impact, and price can vary widely between different types of toilet paper. Two of the oldest and most well-known varieties of premium toilet paper are bone and linen. Both American Standard Bone and Linen toilet papers have luxurious reputations and historical pedigrees, but they have distinct compositions and characteristics.
In this article, we will dive into the key differences between bone and linen toilet paper to help you determine which is better suited for your household. We will explore the manufacturing process, components, pros and cons, and typical pricing for each type. We’ll also directly compare them on important factors like texture, absorbency, strength, and environmental friendliness. By the end, you’ll have a clear sense of which variety offers the right blend of qualities for your needs and preferences.
Here is an in-depth comparison table contrasting American Standard Bone and Linen toilet paper:
|Feature||Bone Toilet Paper||Linen Toilet Paper|
|Main Composition||40% cattle bone fragments, 60% cotton linters||90% flax plant fibers, 10% cotton linters|
|Texture||Smooth, rigid, and papery. Does not pill or lint.||Soft, cushy, and delicate. Can occasionally pill.|
|Absorbency||Low absorbency. Feels dry to the touch.||Highly absorbent and porous. Can fall apart when very wet.|
|Strength||Extremely durable when wet. Resists tearing or shredding.||Strong when dry but lacks wet strength. Can disintegrate when damp.|
|Environmental Impact||Relies on cattle industry byproducts. Higher waste production.||Made from renewable flax plants. Lower ecological footprint.|
|Septic/Plumbing Safety||Not recommended for septic systems. Bone fragments take long to decompose.||Septic safe. Breaks down rapidly when wet. Won’t clog pipes.|
|Appearance||Crisp, elegant, industrial aesthetic.||Soft, upscale delicate aesthetic. Tan/beige color.|
|Price||Around $1-2 per regular roll. Very expensive.||Similarly priced to bone toilet paper, $1-2 per standard roll.|
|Key Benefits||Strength and longevity. Decorative appearance.||Softness, absorbency, sustainability. Gentle on skin.|
|Best Uses||Households with no septic system. Formal, elegant decor.||Eco-friendly homes. Gentle for kids/elderly.|
|Price||Check Latest Price||Check Latest Price|
Brief History of Toilet Paper
Before diving specifically into bone and linen toilet paper, it’s helpful to understand the general history of this household necessity. Toilet paper as we know it today is a relatively modern invention, but people have employed various methods of cleansing after toileting for millennia. Royalty and aristocracy in many ancient cultures are known to have used soft fabrics, lace, wool, or water to clean themselves.
The first recorded precursor to modern toilet paper was in 6th century China, when the emperor at the time ordered the manufacturing of a two-foot sheet of paper for his personal hygiene. Paper as a cleaning material offered obvious advantages over reusable fabrics. However, paper did not gain widespread use for that purpose for many more centuries.
Toilet paper rolls first started appearing in the mid-1800s, but remained a luxury item until the early 1900s. It took innovations in manufacturing and pulp materials to make it affordable and available to the masses. Since then, toilet paper has advanced rapidly to meet modern standards of softness, absorbency, durability, and sustainability.
Brands like American Standard have been around since the late 1800s. Their Bone and Linen toilet papers were some of the original luxury models available, and they remain popular prestige options today. Now let’s examine what makes each of these varieties unique.
What is Bone Toilet Paper?
Bone toilet paper contains a percentage of actual cattle bone chips or fragments in the paper pulp along with cotton or other plant fibers. The bone gives it a distinct rigid and smooth texture.
Composition and Manufacturing Process
The bone pulp for these premium toilet papers typically comes from cattle raised for the beef industry. The bones are cleaned, boiled down into bone chips, and bleached. The bone fragments are then mixed with cotton linters or wood pulp and processed on paper machines into rolls.
Bone chips comprise up to 40% of the total materials in the final paper. The percentage varies by brand. The higher the bone content, the crisper and more textured the paper feels. The bone also increases the acidity of the paper versus wood or cotton-based papers.
Pros of Bone Toilet Paper
There are several potential advantages to choosing toilet paper with a bone content:
- Texture – The bone fibers create a smooth, rigid texture that does not pill or lint like pure cotton/wood papers. This provides a luxurious feel.
- Strength – The added bone makes the paper extremely sturdy and resistant to tearing or shredding when wet. A little goes a long way.
- Absorbency – The bone pulp does not absorb moisture. so the paper feels dry to the touch. It will not disintegrate when wet.
- No cardboard tube – Most bone toilet paper is wrapped around a plastic or metal core rather than a cardboard tube for increased longevity.
- Prestige – It is seen as a premium, decorative, and opulent product.
Cons of Bone Toilet Paper
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages to bone-based toilet paper as well:
- Price – It is significantly more expensive than regular toilet paper, running 2-4 times the cost.
- Limited environmental sustainability – Relies heavily on cattle industry byproducts rather than recycled materials. Produces more waste.
- Not as soft – The bone fibers do not yield the same smooth, cushy feel as cotton-based papers. Texture is more papery and rigid.
- Specialty product – Difficult to find in many normal stores. Primarily sold in high-end markets and pharmacies.
- Can damage septic systems – The bone fragments do not dissolve as quickly as other natural fibers and can clog plumbing over time.
As you can see, bone toilet paper has some very desirable qualities, but also some downsides to consider carefully before purchasing. Next we’ll examine linen paper in the same way.
What is Linen Toilet Paper?
Linen toilet paper is composed primarily of fibers extracted from the flax plant. Flax stalk fibers produce linen fabric, while broken flax fragments make up linen paper pulp.
Composition and Manufacturing Process
Flax plants are harvested and soaked in water to begin separating the fibers from the stalks in a process called retting. The fibers are then combed out and spun into linen threads for fabric. The remaining broken bits of stalk are gathered as the ” tow” to be processed into linen paper.
The flax tow is washed, bleached, and ground up. It is combined with cotton linters and fed into the paper machine to produce rolls of linen toilet paper. The resulting paper is lightweight, smooth, and porous.
Pros of Linen Toilet Paper
Linen toilet paper offers many positive attributes:
- Soft and absorbent – Linen fibers yield a very soft, cushiony paper that quickly absorbs moisture. The porous texture helps it disintegrate when wet.
- Strength – The long linen fibers make the paper quite strong while dry despite the soft feel. It holds up well to use.
- Sustainability – Made from a fast-growing crop that requires few chemical inputs to grow and harvest. The material would otherwise go to waste.
- Septic safe – Linen paper breaks down rapidly when wet and will not clog plumbing or septic tanks.
- Attractive appearance – The off-white or tan color and delicate texture provide an upscale, decorative look.
Cons of Linen Toilet Paper
The disadvantages of linen toilet paper include:
- Price – Like bone paper, it costs significantly more than regular toilet paper. The convenience comes at a premium.
- Limited absorbency when wet – Though absorbent at first, it tends to fall apart when thoroughly wet.
- Messy – The cushy soft pieces sometimes stick to the skin rather than fully dissolving in the toilet.
- Availability issues – As a specialty item, it can be hard to find in regular grocery stores. The supply chain is smaller.
- May pill over time – The loose linen fibers can pill or shed slightly with friction.
- No plastic core – Forgoes the convenience of the cardboard tube for an elegant look.
Linen toilet paper offers exceptional softness and sustainability, though at a price. Now that we’ve examined bone and linen papers separately, let’s directly compare them.
Direct Comparison between Bone and Linen Toilet Paper
Here we’ll pit bone and linen varieties head to head in key categories to highlight the differences:
- Bone – Rigid, smooth, and papery. Does not pill or lint. Wipes cleanly.
- Linen – Soft, cushy, and delicate. Gentle on skin. Can occasionally pill or shed a bit.
- Bone – Does not absorb liquid well. Feels dry to the touch.
- Linen – Very absorbent thanks to porous fibers. Can fall apart when drenched.
- Bone – Extremely durable when wet. Resists tearing or shredding.
- Linen – Strong when dry but lacks wet strength. Can disintegrate when very damp.
- Bone – Relies heavily on cattle industry waste products. Higher waste production.
- Linen – Made from fast-growing flax plants. Easier on environment overall.
- Bone – Around $1-2 per regular roll. Very expensive compared to regular toilet paper.
- Linen – Similarly priced to bone at $1-2 per standard roll. Carries premium price tag.
As you can see, bone offers strength and rigidity, while linen provides softness and sustainability. But which one should you actually choose? Let’s explore that question.
Which One Should You Choose?
With all of their differences laid out, here are some key factors to help determine if bone or linen toilet paper is right for your home.
Factors to Consider
- Budget – Linen and bone cost about the same, so price won’t dictate a choice between the two. But they are quite expensive compared to regular toilet paper.
- Toilet/septic limitations – Linen paper is safer for temperamental plumbing and septic systems. Bone fragments take longer to dissolve.
- Texture preference – Do you want soft & fluffy or smooth & sturdy? This may dictate linen vs bone.
- Environmental concerns – Linen has a smaller ecological footprint than bone-based papers.
- Aesthetic tastes – Bone looks more industrial, while linen looks delicate and upscale.
- Absorbency needs – Linen excels at absorption, bone does not. Important for messes.
Here are some quick tips on which option may suit different situations best:
- For softness and septic safety, choose linen.
- For sturdiness and decorative flair, go for bone.
- If earth-friendly is a priority, linen is the better pick.
- In damp bathrooms, bone will hold up better when wet.
- For household with kids, linen is likely the more practical buy.
Think carefully about the benefits that matter most to your household. In many cases, linen toilet paper may provide the best overall blend of softness, strength, sustainability, and absorbency that users seek. But bone toilet paper offers unmatched decorative presence and durability. Weigh your priorities and smells to determine which variety suits your needs.
Is bone toilet paper better for the environment than regular toilet paper?
No, bone toilet paper is generally worse for the environment than toilet paper made from recycled paper or sustainably-sourced trees. It relies on cattle industry waste products and produces more non-biodegradable waste.
Does linen toilet paper clog toilets more easily?
No, linen toilet paper is very septic-safe and breaks down quickly when wet. It is less likely to clog toilets than conventional toilet paper. Bone toilet paper has more potential to clog due to indigestible bone fragments.
Is bone toilet paper safe for septic systems?
Bone toilet paper is generally not recommended for septic systems. The bone fragments take a very long time to fully decompose and can accumulate over years of flushing, leading to clogged drains and septic tank damage. Linen is safer.
Why is linen toilet paper often beige rather than white?
Linen fiber has an off-white, tan color naturally. Bleaching the pulp weakens the fibers, so most linen toilet paper retains some of the original beige hue for strength. Fully bleached white linen toilet paper is available but less common.
Does the texture of bone toilet paper soften at all when wet?
No, bone toilet paper retains its trademark rigid, papery texture even when thoroughly soaked. The bone fragments do not absorb any moisture, so the wet and dry feel are virtually identical. It remains sturdy when wet.
American Standard Bone and Linen toilet papers provide two classic options for premium toilet paper. While both carry higher price tags than regular varieties, they also offer tangible advantages in terms of strength, softness, appearance, and longevity. Linen toilet paper is better for absorbency, plumbing, and environmental impact. But bone toilet paper excels at providing a crisp, sturdy texture that holds up even when soaked.
Carefully consider which qualities are most important for your household before investing in one of these specialty varieties. And as with any change, moderation is advised when transitioning toilet paper types to see how your plumbing handles the switch. With a little thought and experimentation, you can find the right balance of softness, strength, sustainability, and decor that fits your family’s needs and budget.