How easily cotton burns

Mixtures of substances : Flammable textiles pose a risk to children

This is shown by a current fire test of textiles carried out by Stiftung Warentest. 44 T-shirts, shirts, pullovers, fleece jackets, jeans, sportswear and carnival costumes were flame-burned for ten seconds. The result is not surprising: whether cotton or polyester - no fabric is fire-resistant. A good half of all textiles have melted and almost always dripped off hot. The testers rated the fire risk of 40 textiles as high to very high, and only four as low.

The testers emphasized that neither price nor brand influence the burning behavior of a garment. The substance and its composition are decisive for the course of the fire. As a rule of thumb, the lighter the fabric, the faster it can burn. It took less than twelve seconds for light clothing items to be covered by the fire in the investigation - a shirt from S. Oliver, a jacket from H&M and a shirt from Tom Tailor. The test also shows exceptions to the rule: a heavy polyacrylic jacket burned just as quickly as a light sweater made of the same material.

Large differences were found in the burning behavior of cotton and synthetic fabrics such as polyester. Pure cotton items usually burned significantly to strongly, and the flames almost always spread quickly to very quickly. Pure polyester, on the other hand, burned more slowly, including the fleece jackets, tracksuits and princess costumes in the test. However, polyester melted and often dripped hot. The danger: falling parts can spread the fire. This was not the case with cotton clothing.

Mixtures of cotton and polyester turned out to be doubly risky, as they show both reactions - strong burning and hot droplets. Clothing made of polyacrylic, polyacrylic blends and wool blends also poses a double risk of fire. The testers therefore advise avoiding such mixtures of substances when shopping and choosing close-fitting clothing for children.

The course of a clothes fire is of course difficult to predict because you often wear more than a single item of clothing. While scientists, according to laboratory experiments, classify polyester as safer than cotton, combustion medicine specialists see polyester and similar substances as more dangerous. With light fabrics made of cotton and viscose, the burn can spread quickly. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, cause limited but deeper damage to the skin. Tsp

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