What Makes Wool So Special?
Buying wool supports raising sheep for their fleece rather than food. Every year a new fleece grows on the sheep's back, and may be removed without harm to the animal.
Using wool products supports local farmers throughout the world, especially those letting their sheep graze on pesticide free pastures. Wool is a sustainable resource. Most Australian Merino wool is produced organically or with low use of harmful chemicals. The processing of wool requires very little environmental impact compared to other natural fibers or man-made fibers.
Dust mites don't like wool. They prefer hot humid environments that are more common in synthetic or down products. Dust mites are the major cause of allergy and asthma suffering.
When subjected to flames, wool most likely just smolders and extinguishes itself. That's why fire fighters wear wool uniforms and natural bedding manufacturers use wool in their products to meet fire codes. Merino wool has the highest natural fire resistance of all commonly encountered textile fibres.
Merino wool is renowned for its warmth but it has also been worn for centuries by Bedouin tribes of the Sinai desert where there is extreme heat. Merino keeps you warm when you’re cold, and cool when you’re hot. Wool fabrics reduce the rate of heat transfer to the environment because they offer superior insulation to most textiles. You can wear wool from the coldest temperatures up to 80+ degrees and be comfortable.
Does Not Itch
The fibers of Merino wool are so fine that they do not itch. A human hair is five times larger in diameter than Merino wool fiber. Merino wool can be used to make next-to-skin apparel and even bed sheets. Australian Merino is graded by the diameter of the fiber. The finest of all is classified as extra-fine Merino and must be 19.5µm or less. One study showed that nearly 100 percent of those tested found no discomfort whatsoever when wearing clothing made from extra-fine Merino.
Wool fabric production has recently evolved to allow for machine washing and durability. Modern production methods allow for machine washable wool yars to be knit into very lightweight next-to-skin products and woven to produce washable suites.
While the core of the Merino fibre is capable of absorbing up to a third of its dry weight in moisture, the surface or Merino fibers has a waxy coating that repels liquids. This surface layer is not easily removed by washing or processing. Water droplets on the surface of Merino will bead and roll off instead of being absorbed into the fabric.
Wool is an excellent insulator and has one of the highest insulation to weight ratios of any natural or man-made fiber. New developments in spinning technology have produced wool fabric that is 30% lighter than was possible before.
Merino’s wool can be bent 20,000 times before breaking. By comparison, a cotton fibre will break after 3,000 times and silk after just 2,000. This means Merino garments not only last longer, but also retain their appearance for a longer period.
Wool holds dyes better than many other natural fibers. Wool also is available in a variety of natural earth tones that require no added dyes.
Wool fibers have a natural water wicking property that prevents moisture from being retained in the fabric. Besides keeping the skin dry, this quality also naturally inhibits mildew. Wool also has natural anti-microbial properties because bacteria tend to be attracted to smooth positively charged surfaces like those of synthetic fibres rather than the scaly, neutrally charged surface of the Merino fibre. Hospital studies have shown that bacterial colonies are common in cotton sheets while not present on Merino blankets subjected to the same environmental conditions.
Diminishes Body Odor
Most synthetic fibers acutally increase body odor because they create a breeding ground for bacteria. Sweat itself has no odour, but over time bacteria develop and create unpleasant odours. Merino wool reduces the opportunity for odours to develop because it quickly absorbs sweat and evaporats it into the air. Unlike synthetic fabrics, wool does not retain odors and will freshen just from airing out. In addition, the outer layer of wool fibers have a high concentration of fatty acids, which have anti-bacterial properties. The internal layers of wool fiber actually bind with acidic, basic and sulphurous odours that are components of body odour.
Insulates When Wet
The inner core of wool fibers can absorb 35% of its own weight in moisture. Not until wool is saturated with 60% of its own weight will it feel wet to the touch. Because of this, even wool is moderately damp, the insulating air pockets are still intact. Furthermore, the wicking properties of wool fibers draw moisture away from the skin helping to keep the body warm.
The thin waxy coating on Merino wool fibers makes wool water resistant. This allows time for liquid spills to be wiped from a Merino fabric before they can cause permanent staining. Even if they are not wiped before drying, wool is less prone to stain than many other fabrics. Wool also has a very low degree of dry-soil pick-up compared to most other fibres. One method for cleaning wool clothing is to simply brush the fabric. This is effective because of wools ability to easily release soil.