Updated: Jun 1, 2020
When sourcing deadstock and remnants there are often no labels to determine the fibre content of the fabric. A simple method for determining the fabric type is burn testing. This is the method of selecting a two centimetre square portion of fabric and lighting the edge and monitoring how the section burns. The colour of the flame, the smell, the colour of the smoke, the feel of the ash determines the material content. Each fibre gives off key characteristics.
The fabric burns fast and it tends to singe the fabric, the fame is yellow and when it burns it smell similar to burn paper. The ash is light and grey in colour.
Holds similar characteristics to cotton when burnt, yellow flame, slightly slower to burn, less afterglow and the smell is closer to leaves and wood, and the ash is light and grey.
Made from wood pulp, rayon burn fast, has a bright yellow flame, no afterglow and the ash is light and grey.
When silk is burnt it curls in the flame and burns slowly and doesn’t stay lit, it tends to smoulder. The smell is similar to burning hair and small black beads can be seen after it is burnt.
The fibres curl away from the flame, it’s slow to light and doesn’t stay lit. When burning it smells similar to hair, the ash is dark and has some beads in the ash.
Photo by Trisha Downing on Unsplash