Today we re-blog a piece on lanolization from the Twig & Horn blog. Enjoy!
Properties of wool
Wool is truly the wonder-fiber, with properties that even the most advanced (if you’d like to call them that) synthetic fabrics should be jealous of.
- Repels Moisture. Wool’s inner layers attract water, while its outer layers repel it, meaning wool can get wet and still keep you insulated and feeling dry.
- Resists Wrinkles and Retains Shape. If you’re a knitter you probably already know this, but you may not know why: wool fiber is actually made up of tiny spring-like coils that are remarkably resilient. You can stretch, pinch, fold, etc., but when you release the tension your garment will bounce back much better than most other fibers. Be careful though, when wet, the fibers are weaker and more prone to wrinkling and misshaping.
- Durability. Wool is one of the most durable fibers out there. Wool fiber can be bent back on itself more than 20,000 times without breaking. Compare that to 3,000 for cotton, and 2,000 for silk. The elasticity of wool also makes it resistant to tearing.
- Fire Resistant. Moisture content in wool fiber means that wool will char but will not combust up to very high temperatures.
- Takes Dye Well. Wool absorbs many types of dyes deeply and uniformly without the need for chemical fixing agents.
- Resists Soiling and Odors. Mac Bishop, founder of menswear line Wool & Prince, which specializes in wool shirting, tested his first wool shirt for 100 days without washing. The results were 100 laundry-less days and a wrinkle and odor-free shirt (Read more). Wool accomplishes this amazing feat through breathability, a complex chemical structure that locks in odors until washing, and—bringing us to our next item—not providing a fertile environment for bacteria.
- Non Allergenic and Antibacterial. While many people claim to have wool allergies, for many they are mistaking an allergy for sensitivity to coarser wool fibers, which can be itchy. In fact, wool very rarely causes allergic reactions and does not promote growth of bacteria, which is part of its secret to remaining fresh and clean through many wears.
- Sun Protective. Wool has naturally high UV protection.
- Natural Insulating Properties Conform to Surroundings. In other words, wool keeps you warm when it’s cool, and can help you keep cool when it’s hot. How does it pull this off? Through a combination of breathability and the creation of micro-air pockets between the fabric and your skin.
Why is lanolin important?
Lanolin is a wax that sheep use to protect their wool and skin from the elements including weather and bacteria. Lanolin helps to keep wool’s unique moisture handling capabilities intact, will help ensure that any lingering moisture will not lead to microbe and fungal growth, and will protect the fiber from degradation over time and repeated use.
This little secret is well-known to parents using cloth diapers, where wool is truly put to the test. But lanolizing needn’t be saved for just cloth diapers! The performance of your own garments will benefit immensely from lanolizing.
Lanolin is actually quite similar in nature to the oils produced by human skin, and is used extensively—and to great affect—in moisturizers and other skin-care products.
But why lanolize if lanolin is naturally in the wool?
The processing, spinning, and dyeing of wool strips it of much of its lanolin. And, if your wool is super-wash, it has gone through even harsher chemical treatments that generally leave it dry and lifeless. Furthermore, dry-cleaning or washing with regular or even gentle detergents also strips away lanolin from your wool.
Twig & Horn Wool Soap and Wool Soap Bar are packed with lanolin. They gently cleanse your wool garments while also replenishing the natural lanolin that keeps your wool functioning the way it was intended to (and extra soft and squishy). To read more on how to wash and soak your garments with our Wool Soap, go here.
This article originally appeared on the Twig & Horn blog.