jute fibers were pulped using a novel caustic soda and ethanol-alkali (EtOH-NaOH) pulping process with the aim of minimizing problems associated with conventional chemical pulping. The effects of reaction conditions on the pulp yield, degree of delignification and selected physical properties were evaluated. The results indicate that adding ethanol to the conventional soda process was effective for improving both delignification and the physical properties of jute pulps. It was found that the delignification proceeded more rapidly and more selectively with ethanol-alkali than with alkali alone, giving higher yields at a given kappa number. Strength properties were markedly improved. The greatest values for burst (5.8 kPa m(2) g(-1)) and tensile strength (68 N m g(-1)) were obtained at 175degreesC and 2.5 h reaction time. (C) 2003 Society of Chemical Industry.