Silk: why is it dubbed as the “queen of fibers”?

Silk is a widely used textile in the world with diverseuses which depend on its source andproduction method.Silk is produced naturally through domesticated silkworms like Bombyx Mori species and the genus of Antheraea. But since these natural fibers have some weaknesses,a synthetic counterpart was made to address them.

Pros and Cons of Silk

Silk has a low density which makes it lightweight, soft, and smooth to use. Hence, it is breathable. Silk has high absorbency which can reduce its shelf life when it is exposed to sweat, water, sun, and soap.
Silk is hypoallergenic due to the presence of sericin, which repels common allergens like mildew, dust, and tiny insects, which helps in preserving its quality for a long period. Silk is expensivedue to its complex production process.
Silk has good elasticity and drape ability responsible for its graceful appearance. This is due to its high resistance against deformation. It is prone to staining, hence, its color changes to yellow.
Silk has good thermal insulation due to the holes in between the interlaced threads which are occupied by tiny air pockets that act as insulators. Hence, it regulates the body temperature during different weather. It requires an expensive dry cleaning processto remove dirt.
Silk is lustrous due to the fibroin proteins which make up the thread. The triangulated shape of the molecules refracts light which gives the fabric a different color and shade when subjected to light. It needs special care like using a mild fabric condition to retain its quality.
Silk has a good affinity to dye making coloring and design printing possible. Prone to wrinkling
Silk is the most durable natural fiber due to the fibroin’s triangular-shaped molecular structure and its gum-like coating—sericin.

Criteria for Identifying an Artificial Silk from the Natural Fiber

Listed below are the criteria for judging the authenticity of the silk.

Cost Expensive Cheaper
Color Shimmery color Matte color
(by burning a strand)
It burns slowly without melting and it emits a burning-hair smell. Smells like burning paper or plastic
Flame Color
(during burning a strand)
The flame is colorless. Not colorless
Friction Test
(heat produced by rubbing it together)
It gets warmer when there is more friction. The temperature stays almost the same after rubbing it together.

The most effective way of testing the genuineness of the silk is through a ring test. It is done by pulling the silk through the hole of the ring. If it runs smoothly, then it is real silk. Otherwise, it is not.

Uses of Silks

Silk can be used in two ways—as consumer apparel and for industrial applications. The silk that is used as apparel can be weaved into different types of fashion typessuch as scarves, shirts, blouses, lingerie, underwear, and eveningwear like silk pajamas men. It can also be used as curtains, decorative pillows, and wall hangings. For industrial purposes, it is commonly used for parachutes (specifically the canopy) and surgical sutures.

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