What are natural fibers made of

Animal fibers

While vegetable fibers consist mainly of cellulose, animal and human hair are made up of protein compounds.

The most important animal fiber is the wool from sheep, goats and other animals. Their structure allows them to hold on to significant amounts of air. Because such a layer of air acts like an insulating layer, wool is particularly good at keeping you warm compared to other fabrics. It is breathable and does not cool down even when it is damp. Because of its natural fat layer and the structure of the fibers, wool hardly absorbs odors and dirt. In order to improve its wearing and care properties, wool is often processed together with cotton or man-made fibers.

The properties of wool fibers differ depending on which animal they come from:
  • Virgin wool is obtained by shearing adult sheep, the wool of the merino sheep is considered to be the finest.
  • The wool of lambs is very fine and soft. As Lambswool the wool of those lambs that are younger than six months and have been sheared for the first time is marketed.
  • alpaca is the soft down wool of the sheep camelar alpaca, which belongs to the llamas. The animals living in the highlands of South America are shorn every two years. Their wool is very light and has a soft sheen.
  • As Angora wool known hair of the angora rabbit is soft, silky, shiny, very fine and very light. They are obtained both by combing out and by shearing. Animal welfare organizations criticize angora rabbit breeding because, contrary to their sociable and active nature, the animals are usually kept in narrow wire cages so that the fur does not get dirty.
  • The particularly soft, silky, shiny and light product comes from the cashmere goat, which is native to Central Asia cashmere (or cashmere). The wool is only obtained after shedding the winter fur by collecting or combing it out.
  • mohair is the hair of the angora goat. The animals are sheared like sheep. Your hair can be processed like sheep's wool, but cannot be matted.

A very special fiber of animal origin is silk. It arises from the thread from which the caterpillars of certain species of butterflies spin the cocoon to pupate. Each cocoon consists of just a single thread, which can be between 1,000 and 4,000 meters long. While the so-called Mulberry silk is the thread of the farmed mulberry moth, will Wild silk Obtained from the cocoons of the wild tussah butterflies.

The cocoons of the animals are first treated with hot air or hot steam in order to kill the butterfly pupae inside. During the subsequent bath in boiling water, the glue that gives the cocoon its stability is loosened. The silk thread is then rolled up lengthways.

Like other fibers, silk can be dyed. It keeps you warm and cool at the same time. However, silk is sensitive to mechanical loads, high temperatures and intense light. Deodorant sprays, perfumes and sweat leave clear stains.

A particularly rare and unique type of silk was produced in the Mediterranean for a long time. Shell silk arises from the fibers with which the "noble pen shell" (Pinna nobilis) anchors itself to seaweed. The precious fabrics made from these threads have a golden shimmer and cannot be dyed. The noble pen shell is under nature protection today.