How to Determine if a Fabric is Synthetic or Natural


There are many variations of fabric here in Singapore and if you have an allergic reaction to synthetic ones, it is crucial that you know how to distinguish a natural from an artificial one. It is hard to tell if it is natural or synthetic especially with the many variations from cotton to silk, linen, polyester to wool but there is a way that you can identify it even if you are not a fabric expert.

Have you ever heard about a fabric burn test? This is your way of knowing whether the fabric is natural or not by looking how it burns and how it smells. You have to take necessary precautions though as you will light the edge of the fabric using a lighter or match. Let it burn the fabric for at least one second or two before analysing the results.

How it burns or how it smells will determine whether a fabric is natural or not. Here are few pointers:

  • If it is 100% cotton: When you burn 100% cotton, it will turn into ash. It will be delicate and after touching it, will turn to dust. The material should burn quickly and the smell should be that of a burning leaf or paper.
  • If it is 100% silk: Silk is also from a natural material but unlike cotton, it is not from a plant. If you burn it, you will notice it burning quickly and when it is touched, it will turn to dust. The smell is that of a burning hair.

  • If it is 100% wool: In terms of the burnt material and smell, 100% wool takes after the silk – it crumbles when touched and smells like burnt hair. The only difference is that it takes longer to burn and ash is not that fine.
  • If it is 100% linen: Linen is same with cotton that comes from a plant. The only difference is it burns slower plus the ash will crumble just by a touch.

Now that you know how to identify natural, it is time that you consider synthetic materials. The challenge here is that synthetic materials are hard to distinguish by feel and look but if you submit it to burn test, it will show. When ignited, synthetic materials will burn like plastic and smells like it too. It will coil backwards when it is burned.

You are now aware of fabrics. You have to share this and make it known.

Written by Editor

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