AbstractThe effects of a double polyelectrolyte adsorption of poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH) and xylan (Xyl) on a recycled unbleached softwood kraft pulp were studied. The kinetics of PAH adsorption on this pulp was analyzed by building adsorption isotherms and by estimating the surface nitrogen adsorbed through the X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) technique. It was found that at pH 7.5, 0.01N NaCl, and short adsorption time, PAH is mainly adsorbed on the fiber surface. Adsorption isotherms of xylan on untreated and on previously PAH-treated pulps at different ionic strengths were built, and the effects of the amount of PAH on xylan adsorption were considered. It was found that when ionic strength was lower than 0.01N NaCl, a PAH pretreatment was necessary to achieve high levels of xylan adsorption at room temperature and short adsorption times. Nevertheless, when ionic strength was 0.1N NaCl, 0.3% xylan on pulp could be directly adsorbed on untreated pulp. Finally, it is shown that the dual-polyelectrolyte adsorption on this pulp is a feasible technique for improving paper tensile strength.