Skip to content

Quick identification of three fibers in industrial yarns

The most common types of industrial yarns are natural fibers or synthetic fibers (or a mixture of both). Both types have pros and cons. Natural fibers come from plants and animals, while synthetic fibers are made from chemical compounds, and each is valued in the sewing industry for different reasons.

Natural Fibers and Synthetic Fibers

  • Natural Fibers: Natural fibers are fibers that are made out of natural materials that come from plants, animals, or minerals. The raw, natural materials are spun into threads and yarns that are then woven or knit into natural fabrics. There are two general categories of natural fibers: animal-based and plant-based. Animal-based natural fibers include silk and wool, while plant-based natural fibers include cotton, linen, and jute.
  • Synthetic Fibers: Synthetic fibers are made of synthetic materials, usually formed through chemical processes. The fibers are generally extracted during the chemical process using a spinneret, which is a device that takes polymers to form fibers. The textile industry began creating synthetic fibers as cheaper and more easily mass-produced alternatives to natural fibers.

Quick identification of three fibers in industrial yarns

When we have some samples of sewing thread in our hands and are not sure what fiber it is made of, we can use the burn test, which is a simple and effective way of identifying yarn or sewing thread.

Natural Plant-Based Fibers

Expose natural fibers like cotton and rayon to a flame, and they won’t shrink back. These materials will burn rapidly with a yellowish flame and leave behind soft ash. As they burn, they give off a smell like burning paper or leaves.

Synthetic Fibers

These fibers have a tendency to shrink back and melt when exposed to flame. They will drip melted polymer when burning:

  • Polyester, once ignited, will give off a heavy black smoke that has a sweet, chemical-like odor. Once the flame is removed or extinguished, a very hard black bead will remain on the unburnt material.
  • Nylon will give off a white smoke that has a strong, almost celery-like smell. When the flame is removed from burning nylon, it will typically leave a hard yellowish, gray bead.

Works Cited: Can You Identify Industrial Yarns & Fiber Threads?