The Chemistry of Ropes


Ropes are a very useful tool in the cowboy world. They help in doing things out in the open instead of having to bring things into use the chutes. I choose to do them because i was interested in seeing the role of chemistry that was involved with them. Giving myself a better all around understanding of them. If ropes did not exist there would be a lot more work involved in doctoring and catching animals. Alsao they are a great source of entertainment. One can never be bored with rope in hand.

Composition of ...


    • made from Diamine and Dicarboxylic acid
    • Most common forms nylon 66 (polyhexamethylene adipamide) and nylon 6 (Polycaprolactam, a cyclic nylon intermediate)
    • Nylon 6 [NH-(CH2)-CO-]n
    • Nylon 66 -[-NH9(CH2)6-NHOC(CH2)4CO-]-n
    • semi crystalline polymers


    • composed of at least 85% by weight of an ester and dihydric alcohol and terephthalic acid
    • -polyester refers to the linkage of several monomers( esters)
    • -Esters are formed when alcohol reacts with carboxylic acid
    • 2 forms currently produced 1. polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and 2.poly-1,4, cyclohexylene dimethylene (PCDT)
    • smooth fiber
    • -fibers are approximately 35% crystalline and 65% amorphous

Talc (Talcum Powder)

    • softest mineral on earth
    • fairly common
    • Chemical formula-Mg3Si4O10(OH)2


    • made of polymers. vast majority based on chains of carbon with oxygen sulfur and nitrogen
    • synthetic/ semi synthetic organics
  • typically organic polymers with high molecular mass

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

    • Diamine- [(R1) NH (R2) NH3]+(CH/COO).
    • Dicarboxylic Acid- HO2C(CH2)nCO2H

Chemistry's Role


      • made by combining correct polymers forming a condensation polymerization reaction
      • condensation polymerisation- a carboxylic acid and alcohol react water molecule is removed and ester is formed
      • Ester- organic compound made by replacing the hydrogen of an acid by an alkyl


      • Naturally occurring (leather)
      • not tanned and all meat and fat are removed let dry
      • the friction is reduced between the nylon and this by talcum powder

Ropes (Final Product)

      • man made
      • no chemistry is involved in this stage
      • consists of weaving together the strands of nylon already created tightly
    • then coating with some talcum powder

Background Research

Ropes come in many different lengths and are made of many different things. Depending on what you do and what kind of saddle you have you choose your rope. When you have a slick horn ( a horn that has mule hide or other various things) you will want a longer rope. This is also a lot more forgiving on the livestock that you are around due to the fact it allows for some slip( gives some rope so that it doesn't jerk the animal). This combination is used more often in ranching than in Competitive ropings. In that case they use a rubber horn. It grabs the nylon of the rope and doesn't really allow for that slip. So they tend to choose a short rope( 30-35 feet). The choice and kind of equipment is only half of good roping. Just as in everything there is a technique to it. You want to keep your loop open using the correct arm motion. Different ropes help with that but it is something that takes a lot of practice.


patent info



Talc(Talcum Powder)



Dicarboxylic Acid

About the Author

Sean Jones is a junior at billings senior high. He plays football. But his real passion is horses and roping and all that comes with that. He enjoys greatly learning how chemistry is involved in his everyday life. He plans to get his CDL out of high school and continue his horse business.