AbstractThe effect of hardwood admixture (15-25% birch or aspen) in kraft cooking on the strength properties of the fully bleached pulp was investigated. Results obtained from both lab- and mill-processed ECF bleached pulps showed that adding 15-25% birch or aspen to the production of fully bleached softwood kraft pulp had a minor effect on the strength properties. No significant effect was observed for the hardwood admixture on the apparent density over a wide range of breaking length. Under the conditions studied, the results showed that pulping of mixed softwood/hardwood chips (chip blending) resulted in overall better strength properties than the pulp blending at a given freeness. It was hypothesized that the softwood fibers would be cooked to a higher kappa number in the cooking of mixed softwood/hardwood chips for the same target kappa number, thus having higher fiber strength due to higher pulp viscosity and preservation of the hemicellulose. This was supported by the results from zero-span tensile strength of the long fiber fraction of the samples from chip blending and pulp blending. The implication is that some softwood kraft pulp mills can add up to 25% of hardwood chips to the kraft cooking of softwood chips without significantly affecting the overall pulp strength properties.