bamboo forest

Bamboo and rayon from bamboo: know the difference

In the textile industry, bamboo and rayon from bamboo are two distinct fabrics that share the same raw material but substantially differ in their manufacturing process.  Bamboo in its natural raw state: Bamboos are a group of woody perennial evergreen plants in the Bambusoideae subfamily of the grass family Poaceae. There are over 1600 species found in diverse climates from cold mountains to hot tropical regions, some of which can reach up to 35 meters (115 feet). About 40 million hectares of the earth is covered with bamboo, mostly in Asia. Each cane reaches maturity in two to five years, with one of the fastest growth rate of over 12 inches per day. It doesn’t require replanting after harvest because its vast root network continually sprouts new shoots, all the while pulling in sunlight and greenhouse gases while converting them to new growth.   The extensive root system of bamboo holds soil together, prevents soil erosion, and retains water in the watershed.  Bamboo produces a huge biomass, both above and below ground. Planted in large groves, it can store four times the CO2 as a stand of trees of similar size, and it releases 35% more oxygen. Bamboo tree is tremendously strong and pest resistant. It contains anti-bacterial substances as the tree trunk uses it in order to protect itself against insect attacks and fungus. Bamboo can therefore be grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. All these factors combined with the low water consumption, make bamboo a uniquely sustainable raw material for textiles. Bamboo in textiles: Because bamboo in its natural raw state has no content in fibers as opposed to cotton for instance, different technologies developed in recent years have allowed bamboo to be transformed in fibers suitable as textile components.  For this reason, fibers that make up bamboo textiles are considered regenerated fibers, that is man-made fibers artificially created using natural building blocks such as cellulose as opposed to fibers made entirely by nature such as cotton. There are two ways to process bamboo into a textile: mechanically or chemically. 1 Mechanically-produced bamboo  This process, which is similar to the one used to produce linen fabric from flax or hemp, consists in mechanically crushing the woody part of the bamboo and and then applying natural enzymes to break the bamboo cell walls, creating a mushy mass. The natural fibers can then be mechanically combed out and spun into yarn.   Being considerably expensive and time-consuming, very little bamboo fabrics are produced this way. Such bamboo fibers are identified as “bamboo” on garment labels.  2 Chemically-processed bamboo  This process for producing bamboo fibers is by far the most commonly used in the textile industry and shares similarities with the manufacturing process of other types of rayon, from different raw materials other than bamboo such as wood pulp and cotton. In fact, “rayon” is the generic name for any man-made fiber made from cellulose, a natural polymer that makes up the living cells in all plants.  There are several chemical and manufacturing techniques to make rayon, but the most common method is the viscose process.  In the viscose process, the cellulose is extracted by taking the woody part of the bamboo, crushing it and treating it with chemicals to convert it into a substance about the color and consistency of honey, called viscose. Viscose is known as a “regenerated cellulose” fiber since as it is reconstituted from cellulose.   Viscose is forced through fine holes, directly into a chemical bath where it hardens into fine strands.  When washed and bleached these strands become rayon yarn.  Most rayon made today uses this viscose process and the resulting bamboo fibers are legally required in Canada to be identified on garment labels, by one of the following denominations: "rayon from bamboo" or "viscose from bamboo”. As you have probably guessed it, our double-touch viscose from bamboo belongs to this category of fabric. Rayon/Viscose from bamboo benefits We mentioned these already here but it is worth mentioning them again: Luxurious silky-soft feeling and look Excellent moisture-wicking properties Fast drying Thermal regulating Odor prevention Good degree of resistance to mildew and bacteria Hypoallergenic