Brushing Up Your Knowledge

Nessentials brushes are made of domestic German and European woods, bristles, hairs, or plant fibers, as they have been for decades. Different natural materials are used to suit various purposes. Synthetic fibers or plastics are rarely used, only for special requirements.

The body of the brush can be made from different types of domestic woods. Beech, oak, pear, ash, and above all, olive wood (for personal hygiene and cooking ) are the main woods used. Depending on the end use, the woods are worked in their natural state then oiled, or waxed. Thermowood is our special treated ash wood, that is practically immune to mould and rot..

These are the fibers which make up the brush head. Depending on the application, we use the following materials:

Bristles from animal hair
Bristle The ‘hairs’ from the domestic pig or the wild boar are called bristles. Bristles are significantly thicker and therefore harder at the root than at the tip, so that depending on the requirement, hard or soft brushes can be made, depending on whether the lower or upper part of the bristles is used.

Horse hair
Horse hair is a significant material for the brush maker. Hairs from the tail and the mane are used. The strong hairs from the horse’s tail are very suitable for the manufacturing of brushes for cleaning cobwebs, for brooms, and for hand brushes. The soft hairs from the mane are ideal, among other things, for shoe polishing brushes.

Badger hair
The classic bristle for shaving brushes is badger hair. It has rounded tips, so it cannot irritate or damage the sensitive skin on the face. Its fineness and density ensure a firm, substantial foam. Only the top quality crest hair from the badger’s back is used in our brushes.

Goat hairr
The hair of the Chinese long-haired goat is by far the softest material in our brushes. Its very fine and dense hairs are used in dusting brushes, in cosmetic brushes, and also in hairbrushes for babies.
Before manufacture, all natural hairs and brushes are cleaned, scoured, and combed in a costly multi-stage process. We call this treatment ‘finishing’.

Bristles from natural fibers

Tampico fiber
Tampico fiber is obtained from the leaf ribs of a type of agave which grows on the high plains of Mexico. It has a high degree of shape retention, and is used for scrubbing brushes, washing brushes, and anywhere high heat resistance is required.

Palmyra fiber/ Union
Palmyra fiber comes from the leaf ribs of palmyra palms which are found in India and Sri Lanka. The core from the stem of this palm provides the starch-containing foodstuff, sago. Palmyra fiber is, like all plant fibers, wet-resistant and is used mainly for street-sweeping brooms. However it is usually blended with other plant fibers to make union fiber, a mixture which is used above all for vegetable scrubbing brushes, mops, and scrubbers because of its hardness and resilience.

Arenga is obtained from the leaf fibers of the Asian sugar palm. Its natural color is dark grey to black. Arenga is finer and softer than other palm fibers, but is nevertheless tough and elastic. Thanks to its lack of sensitivity to wetness, it is ideal for brushes for outdoor use.

Sisal/ Tampico Fiber
Sisal derives from the leaf fibers of the Mexican sisal palm. Its resistance makes it ideal for the manufacture of mats and massage gloves. Usually it is not used for the bristles of brushes.

Coir is obtained from the fruit of the coconut palm. The fibers lie between the external leathery shell and the actual coconut. They can grow up to 30 cm in length, and are used as bristles for brooms, brushes, and hand brushes. As braided cords, coconut fibers are also made into mats.

Rice straw
The name ‚rice straw‘ is somewhat misleading, as the plant from which it is obtained has nothing to do with rice. ‘Rice straw’ comes from sorghum, a type of cereal which is native to an area from the sub-tropics to the Balkans. Sorghum straw for the manufacture of ‘rice straw’ is obtained from the upper part of the entire plant, including the panicle. In Germany, the ‘rice straw broom’ became known in the 1960s thanks to guest workers who emigrated from the Balkan countries.

Rice root
In just the same way as rice straw, the name ‘rice root’ is incorrect for this particular fiber. The material for rice root brushes does not come from a rice plant, but instead from a grass type called zatacon, which grows as a wild plant in the Mexican highlands. The incorrect name probably derives from the Spanish word ‘raiz’, which means ‘root’. In fact the extremely tough plant fiber comes from the finely corrugated roots of this plant, and is used for very hard scouring brushes.


This is how the manual assembly of the inserted hairs is done:
The wooden body of the hand sweeper is a two-piece design: the cover has no holes, and the underside, into which the broom insert is pulled, has tapered holes. The brush maker also needs a special wire and, of course, the material for the broom insert – shown here is soft goat hair.

First, the wire is guided through the start hole and a loop is made for the first bundle of the goat hair. The insert material is always held in a wire noose. The right amount of material must always be taken, so that the bunch automatically pulls tightly into the tapered hole. Too much, and the bunch won’t fit in the hole; too little, and the material will fall out. This results in a pattern on the back of the wooden body that looks like a fabric seam. The wire nooses are always inserted in a specific order. In this way the entire surface of the insert can be covered using a single piece of wire. When each row is completed the insert material is cut off to form an even edge.

When all of the drill holes are filled and the insert is completed, the wire end is more or less sewn so that it can’t come open. The cover is screwed on and the brush is ready