Cotton vs Bamboo Viscose
We have been getting lots of questions in from people asking about why we use Oeko-Tex standard Cotton, and what it is? Why don’t we use ‘bamboo’ viscose fabric? So we thought we would write this so you guys can understand more about fibres and fabrics allowing you to make a more informed decision on what is important prior to making your purchase.
What is cotton?
Cotton is a natural fiber that comes from the seedpod of the cotton plant. It is used to make many fabrics, one of which is muslin.
What is Bamboo Viscose?
Bamboo viscose, or bamboo as you see here in the UK is actually viscose rayon. Viscose is quite contradictory as it is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fibre - this means it’s not natural like cotton, wool or silks and not truly synthetic like nylon or polyester but falls into a category in between.
As some types of viscose rayon is regenerated from bamboo plants people tend to think these are natural fibres but viscose rayon fibre is not natural. Quite recently the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took action on this and made product manufactures remove this labeling. Read more about it here.
One of the largest muslin brands Aden & Anais now label their muslins with the new FTC guidelines: Viscose made from Bamboo.
How is cotton fabric made?
Cotton is bought in bales, the textile mills take the raw bales of cotton and process them in stages until they produce yarn. This is done by twisting the fibres into threads using a weaving or knitting techniques. The yarn is then woven or knitted to produce cloth.
How is bamboo viscose fabric made?
Viscose is made from the ‘cellulose’ or wood pulp from bamboo. This cellulose material is then dissolved in a chemical solution to produce a pulpy honey like substance, which is then spun into fibres that can then be made into threads and fabric. Using this method chemical solvents are used to dissolve the bamboo into a pulp. These chemicals include carbon disulfide, sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), and sulfuric acid. While bamboo, can be used as a source material to create viscose rayon, there’s no trace of the original plant in the finished rayon product. You can read more about that here: https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/how-avoid-bamboozling-your-customers
What does Oeko-Tex standard Cotton mean?
The International Oeko-Tex Association is made up of textile representatives from Europe and Japan that create standards and are responsible for the independent tests for harmful substances. The Oeko-Tex criteria provides a rigid, scientifically founded evaluation standard for the human ecological safety of textiles. Raw materials, intermediate and the end products are tested and certified at all stages of processing throughout the production process. You can read more about that here.