01-28-2013, 12:50 AM
#1
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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When it's a domesticated pig. That's as far as I have got trying to uncover the source of the bristles used in 'boar' brushes. What I'd like to know is how they are harvested from the piggies and then sorted.

Does anyone know?

I guess the term 'boar' is used to distinguish them from badger or synthetics, but as far as I am aware, the term 'boar' is not quite correct.

Just saying, like. Euro

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 01-28-2013, 12:57 AM
#2
  • tgutc
  • Senior Member
  • Michigan
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I would be interested in knowing how boar hair is harvested too. I would imagine a wild boar hair is very different from a "pig" hair.

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 01-28-2013, 04:50 AM
#3
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You asked, and here it is...



"Bristle tufts are made of the sharp, tough, cylindrical bristles from hogs or boars. As with other natural fiber brushes, the region where the bristles hail from results in their name as well as their quality, sort of like wines from Europe. Shanghai, Hankow and Chunking are a few of these regions in China, with Chunking being the region where these boars run, a cold environment producing bristles that are sturdy and long. Once they are plucked, the bristles are gathered and sent to brush makers for processing. Then they are bleached, boiled, straightened and interlocked to create amazing brushes."

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 01-28-2013, 07:25 AM
#4
  • Songwind
  • Soap Slinger & Scuttle Pusher
  • Burnsville, MN
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Technically, non-castrated male swine, domesticated or wild, are boars.

So you're probably right, a lot of the bristles probably come from barrows (the steer of the pig world), but I don't blame them for not getting into that much detail. For one thing, how many people know what "barrow" means in that context?

And boar sounds better than "pig hair brush," doesn't it? Smile

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 01-28-2013, 01:25 PM
#5
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I'm surprised that you know what a barrow is. Tongue Only reason I figured it out was because you said it's the steer of the pig world.

Also, it sounds like barren, so they must share the same root, therefore....

Anyway, they're sorted based on length and % of tops. How they determine the % of tops, I don't know. And length isn't important, it's only important if you need really long bristles. Apparently they can be quite long. 100mm or so. Can't recall off the top of my head, so could be off.

Then they're processed and that's what determines the final grade.

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 01-28-2013, 01:29 PM
#6
  • Songwind
  • Soap Slinger & Scuttle Pusher
  • Burnsville, MN
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As I have gotten older, I have learned to double check any information I think I have that's old or peripheral. Which is where I learned what a barrow was, as I double checked the definition of boar before spouting off. Smile

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 01-28-2013, 02:58 PM
#7
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(01-28-2013, 01:29 PM)Songwind Wrote: As I have gotten older, I have learned to double check any information I think I have that's old or peripheral. Which is where I learned what a barrow was, as I double checked the definition of boar before spouting off. Smile

Thanks for doing the research for me!

I did not know and did not care enough to find out. Tongue I've always used the term pig and boar more or less interchangeably. Wild pig, wild boar... same thing to me. Cool

Oddly enough I did always call the domesticated pinkish pigs, pigs and never associated boar with them. Boar always did have that wild, undomesticated look in my mind's eye.

Unsure how the hair is actually plucked. I could ask, but I probably don't want to know the answer.

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 01-28-2013, 04:01 PM
#8
  • Johnny
  • Super Moderator
  • Wausau, Wisconsin, USA
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All part of the rendering process.

First comes the goodies: Beacon, sausage, ham, etc.
Then comes the leather for the pigskin shoes/boots and other leather products. I would imagine the plucking/shaving takes place before this process.

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 01-29-2013, 07:06 AM
#9
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(01-28-2013, 01:25 PM)asharperrazor Wrote: Apparently they can be quite long. 100mm or so. Can't recall off the top of my head, so could be off.
You mean you used to have boar bristles on the top of your head? Amazing! Biggrin

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 01-29-2013, 09:23 AM
#10
  • Leon
  • Active Member
  • Porto, Portugal
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(01-28-2013, 12:57 AM)tgutc Wrote: I would be interested in knowing how boar hair is harvested too. I would imagine a wild boar hair is very different from a "pig" hair.

I can't imagine a set of thick wild boar hairs be of any use as a shaving brush.

As a broom yes, as a shaving brush, probably no. Biggrin

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 02-02-2013, 09:09 PM
#11
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(01-28-2013, 12:57 AM)tgutc Wrote: I would be interested in knowing how boar hair is harvested too. I would imagine a wild boar hair is very different from a "pig" hair.

In answer to the second question, based on my research: wild boar hair is black.

In answer to the first question, the answer is oddly enough found in a reference GD Carrington used in his synthetic brushes article series. The article by Purdy, the paintbrush maker.

http://www.nrha.org/Vendorfiles/vendor18...edge07.pdf

Bristle, after it is pulled from the skin of slaughtered swine, must undergo a series of operations to convert the raw
and matted stock onto a product which can be used in a brush. This “dressing” of bristle is one, which has been
handed down from master to apprentice since the Middle Ages. Despite modern industrial advances the processing
of bristle remains a completely manual operation.

After the hog is killed, boiling water is poured over the carcass to loosen the bristle. It is then either scraped off the
skin with a metal scraper or plucked by hand. Only a small quantity of bristle is obtained from each hog 6
(approximately 1-1 ½ pounds). After being dried in the sun for several days, it is sold to the dressing houses where
the following operations are preformed on the raw stock:
1. Selecting. When the bristle reaches the dressing house it is dirty; colors and quantities are mixed together. The
first step in dressing is to remove the short, soft hair and foreign matter from the crude bristle.
2. Rough Sorting. Next, the bristle is roughly sorted by color and quality. It is then segregated into short,
medium and long sizes, by color and quality, and tied into small bundles.
3. Washing. The bundles of crude stock are then soaked in water for several days. During this process fat and
skin attached to the butts of the bristle are separated and can easily be removed. The bristle is then dried in the
sun or near a warm stove.
4. Combining. The dried bundles are then “combed” in order to remove the soft hair and to straighten and align
all remaining bristle.
5. Drawing. The process by which the bristle is “drawn” to quarter inch lengths is a very exacting and important
step in the dressing of bristle. One small combed and dried bundle is held in the hand of the “drawer” with the
flag ends facing outward. With the other hand, and the assistance of a sharp knife, bristle of the same length is
drawn from the bundle. Drawn bristle of similar lengths is gathered together and given to the “finisher”.
6. Finishing. The “finisher” ties a string around the butt ends of the bristle, and carefully trims the few protruding
flag ends to make all the bristle of each bundle uniform in length.
7. Packaging. The bundles are individually wrapped in paper and packed in wooden cases for export. The quality
of the dressing is determined on the basis of the following criteria:
1. Solidity. This is a trade name referring to the ratio of the weight of bristle of a specified length in each bundle
to the weight of the bundle. Thus, in a bundle specified as 3 inches, if 75 per cent of the bristle measured
between 2 ¾ and 3 inches, the material is said to be 75 per cent solid. The term “top” refers to that quantity
between 2 ¾ and 3 inches. Thus the same bundle may also be said to have 75 per cent “top.” It follows that the
more or the greater the “top” the more valuable is the dressed product.
2. Cleanliness. The absence of dirt, moth eggs and other foreign matter.
3. Purity. Absence of soft hair or other types of animal fibers, i.e. horsehair.

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 02-02-2013, 10:12 PM
#12
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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Wow, this is fantastic information! Thanks Lee, just fabulous!

Labour intensive, huh? The bristle sorting process? I have more respect than ever now for my bristle brushes and their manufacture.

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 02-03-2013, 12:24 AM
#13
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Yes, quite interesting. I wonder how labor intensive the badger hair sorting is as well. Considering that boar hair is a fraction of the price of dressed and sorted badger hair....

What I'm really interested in is the part about dressing the bristles being passed down from master to apprentice.

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 02-03-2013, 01:20 AM
#14
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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I have the distinct feeling that badger hair brushes will be a thing of the past some day soon. Not sure why I feel that. Seems all good products seem to vanish at some point.

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 02-03-2013, 09:20 AM
#15
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(02-02-2013, 09:09 PM)asharperrazor Wrote:
(01-28-2013, 12:57 AM)tgutc Wrote: I would be interested in knowing how boar hair is harvested too. I would imagine a wild boar hair is very different from a "pig" hair.

In answer to the second question, based on my research: wild boar hair is black.

In answer to the first question, the answer is oddly enough found in a reference GD Carrington used in his synthetic brushes article series. The article by Purdy, the paintbrush maker.

http://www.nrha.org/Vendorfiles/vendor18...edge07.pdf

Bristle, after it is pulled from the skin of slaughtered swine, must undergo a series of operations to convert the raw
and matted stock onto a product which can be used in a brush. This “dressing” of bristle is one, which has been
handed down from master to apprentice since the Middle Ages. Despite modern industrial advances the processing
of bristle remains a completely manual operation.

After the hog is killed, boiling water is poured over the carcass to loosen the bristle. It is then either scraped off the
skin with a metal scraper or plucked by hand. Only a small quantity of bristle is obtained from each hog 6
(approximately 1-1 ½ pounds). After being dried in the sun for several days, it is sold to the dressing houses where
the following operations are preformed on the raw stock:
1. Selecting. When the bristle reaches the dressing house it is dirty; colors and quantities are mixed together. The
first step in dressing is to remove the short, soft hair and foreign matter from the crude bristle.
2. Rough Sorting. Next, the bristle is roughly sorted by color and quality. It is then segregated into short,
medium and long sizes, by color and quality, and tied into small bundles.
3. Washing. The bundles of crude stock are then soaked in water for several days. During this process fat and
skin attached to the butts of the bristle are separated and can easily be removed. The bristle is then dried in the
sun or near a warm stove.
4. Combining. The dried bundles are then “combed” in order to remove the soft hair and to straighten and align
all remaining bristle.
5. Drawing. The process by which the bristle is “drawn” to quarter inch lengths is a very exacting and important
step in the dressing of bristle. One small combed and dried bundle is held in the hand of the “drawer” with the
flag ends facing outward. With the other hand, and the assistance of a sharp knife, bristle of the same length is
drawn from the bundle. Drawn bristle of similar lengths is gathered together and given to the “finisher”.
6. Finishing. The “finisher” ties a string around the butt ends of the bristle, and carefully trims the few protruding
flag ends to make all the bristle of each bundle uniform in length.
7. Packaging. The bundles are individually wrapped in paper and packed in wooden cases for export. The quality
of the dressing is determined on the basis of the following criteria:
1. Solidity. This is a trade name referring to the ratio of the weight of bristle of a specified length in each bundle
to the weight of the bundle. Thus, in a bundle specified as 3 inches, if 75 per cent of the bristle measured
between 2 ¾ and 3 inches, the material is said to be 75 per cent solid. The term “top” refers to that quantity
between 2 ¾ and 3 inches. Thus the same bundle may also be said to have 75 per cent “top.” It follows that the
more or the greater the “top” the more valuable is the dressed product.
2. Cleanliness. The absence of dirt, moth eggs and other foreign matter.
3. Purity. Absence of soft hair or other types of animal fibers, i.e. horsehair.

I have scalded many hogs in my lifetime. We used a scalding box to lower them into and then scraped them clean. Then the best part was when my grandmother made "Cracklins" which is deep fried pork rind.
I wish I knew the hair could be used! Most of our hogs were Hamps and Yorks but in later years we had Chester whites and Duroc. The Duroc have red hair which might make an interesting brush? It seems to me the Chester Whites were the closest color wise to what we have in Boar brushes. But I can tell you that their hair is about the consistency of fine piano wire when we scraped them. There must be a severe softening step along the way!

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 02-03-2013, 12:38 PM
#16
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(02-03-2013, 09:20 AM)Nickadermis Wrote: I have scalded many hogs in my lifetime. We used a scalding box to lower them into and then scraped them clean. Then the best part was when my grandmother made "Cracklins" which is deep fried pork rind.
I wish I knew the hair could be used! Most of our hogs were Hamps and Yorks but in later years we had Chester whites and Duroc. The Duroc have red hair which might make an interesting brush? It seems to me the Chester Whites were the closest color wise to what we have in Boar brushes. But I can tell you that their hair is about the consistency of fine piano wire when we scraped them. There must be a severe softening step along the way!

That is very interesting information!

I am very interested in what species hair we use. I know the wild pig hair is very bad. Not too sure what it looks like, but I think it's black.

I am sure that the species of pig and age must have something to do with the thickness of the individual shafts.

In that article, it states that even though America slaughters millions of pigs, we must import the hair because: 1) no American wants to sort through piggy hair, and 2) American pigs are slaughtered in their "teenage" years and raised solely for meat, therefore the hairs don't grow long and thick enough to use for brushes.

As for the additional processing, the hairs are steamed or boiled and then made straight.

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 02-03-2013, 07:08 PM
#17
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(02-03-2013, 12:38 PM)asharperrazor Wrote: That is very interesting information!

I am very interested in what species hair we use. I know the wild pig hair is very bad. Not too sure what it looks like, but I think it's black.

I am sure that the species of pig and age must have something to do with the thickness of the individual shafts.

In that article, it states that even though America slaughters millions of pigs, we must import the hair because: 1) no American wants to sort through piggy hair, and 2) American pigs are slaughtered in their "teenage" years and raised solely for meat, therefore the hairs don't grow long and thick enough to use for brushes.

As for the additional processing, the hairs are steamed or boiled and then made straight.

Yes, Wild Boar means many different things in many different parts of the world. Here in the lower 48 states it refers to feral hogs that have escaped to nature so they vary greatly in their genetic make up.
The Hamps and Yorks we raised were usually black and white. The Hamps were black with a white band around the front shoulders. The Chester whites were all white. I can remember crating up a few hundred of them in the 80's and air freighting them to China via Flying Tigers. I used to help them build crates for animals and odd shaped large items and load them on their aircraft here in Kansas City.

We still slaughter a couple of hogs a year but we tend to skin them as opposed to scald them these days. I don't care for the supermarket never seen the light of day pork so my Grandfather still raises a few a year outdoors and they just follow the cattle around until they get to 200-250 pounds.
I think I will see if he can get a hold of a couple of Whites and let them mature. I would be curious as to the quality of hair.
The Whites are not as large as some of the older varieties but could get to 800-900lbs I suppose. I had a Hamp as a pet that got to 1200 lbs but they are extremely rare today.

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 02-03-2013, 08:19 PM
#18
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This thread makes me think $10-$30 for a boar is quite a bargain.

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 02-04-2013, 04:34 AM
#19
  • Shaun
  • Senior Member
  • St Peters, NSW, Australia
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(02-03-2013, 08:19 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: This thread makes me think $10-$30 for a boar is quite a bargain.

Exactly what I was thinking. I just hope the ethics side of things are relatively intact, working conditions, humane treatment, etc. Yes, I concur, the Semogues are a real bargain

I also like pork, but sparingly; I will only eat organic free range, blah blah. No-light-of-day pig is no way to treat an animal, in my book, but each to their own.

This has really turned out such an interesting and informative thread, hasn't it?

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 02-04-2013, 08:24 AM
#20
  • Songwind
  • Soap Slinger & Scuttle Pusher
  • Burnsville, MN
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(02-03-2013, 08:19 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: This thread makes me think $10-$30 for a boar is quite a bargain.

Boar bristles get used in a wider array of brushes than badger, so that probably helps keep the costs down, because the volume is much higher. I'm guessing Sally Beauty sells more boar bristle hair brushes than all the shave brushes put together.

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