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What Does Oakum Mean?

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Lakshmipriya Nair Profile
Oakum is the name of a loose hemp or jute fibre. It is used for caulking the seams on the decks and sides of wooden ships when impregnated with tar. It makes the decks and sides watertight. Oakum is made from old and condemned ropes which have been picked apart. It is also used in a bell and spigot pipe and fittings.

Thus it is extensively used in shipbuilding. It's picking and preparation has been a common penal occupation in prisons and workhouses. In the modern days oakum is made from virgin hemp fibres. White oakum is made out of untarred materials. The tar used in preparing oakum is very different from the tar used in roads and streets. This tar is obtained from the sap of pine trees and is therefore known as pine tar or Stockholm tar.

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