Every day we learn something amazing about wool, the facts that could be listed are nearly endless as we research and learn more about one of natures near perfect fibers. For Earth day I thought I would share a few of my favorites!
As anyone who has stayed dry with a wool sweater will tell you, wool repels water, but did you know that raw unprocessed fleeces can absorb oil? After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster researchers got to work to try and find better ways to control oil spills, and Tecnomeccanica Biellese, an engineering firm that focuses on machinery for the woolens industry, carried out experiments using greasy wool to see how good the fleece was at gathering oil. The answer is amazing! Coarse wool, the fibers that often go to rugs and insulation can absorb 10 times their own weight in heavy oil! Not only can that but the oil can then be squeezed out and the wool used yet again! Tecnomeccanica Biellese is actively designing methods to put this new method of spill cleaning in practice with designs that could handle small and large oil spills.
Wool is the traditional fiber for cloth diapers due to its amazing reactions to water. There is an estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year. Cloth diapers are a wonderful solution to help the environment. Wool fibers have two layers the outer is hydrophobic, repelling water, while the inner is hydroscopic, attracting water. A wool diaper cover is therefore able to cover a wet diaper keeping the moisture in. Felted diaper covers that are treated with lanolin, sheep’s natural grease often found in moisturizing cosmetics, is water resistant, air permeable and moderately antibacterial, resisting a buildup of odor unlike cotton. Studies have shown that the production of wool cloth has a lower environmental impact than disposable diapers as well! Assuming that the consumer uses smart methods for reusable items interesting in the study? Click Here!
Wool can be used for older human’s undergarments. Initial studies of woolen underwear have found it prevented heat and sweat rashes because it more readily absorbs the moisture than other fibers. So think twice before saying no to those wool long johns!
Wool is biodegradable! This means that when wool has been worn to death and is tattered and ready to be disposed of it can return to the soil. Wool will decompose releasing valuable nutrients into the ground, when wool is disposed of it takes about a full year to degrade, this allow wool to be used as weed control mats that that inhibit weed growth then decompose giving nutrients for growth of living plants. This same idea has been used for erosion control, wool mulch mats are used for stabilizing slope and creating protection for new seeds, the longer time to decompose allows for plants to have a strong root foundation into the soil without moving. If you do need to toss out a woolen good cannot be re-purposed, wool will degrade in landfills as compared with synthetic products.
Wool is wonder of the natural wool! This Earth day think about exploring one of the world’s natural fibers, even if it just to cuddle under a warm woolen blanket tonight!