Artificial Yarn (Part 2): Rayon from Bamboo

Another popular artificial yarn is anything with bamboo in it. After reading about the technology for chemically manufactured bamboo fiber using hydrolysis alkalization and multi-phase bleaching technology, … let’s just say I was very surprised.

According to the bloggers at OrganicClothing,

Growing bamboo is a wonderfully beneficial plant for the planet and most is naturally organic bamboo. The manufacturing processes where bamboo the plant is transformed into bamboo the fabric are where the sustainability and eco-friendly luster of bamboo is tarnished because of the heavy chemicals, some of which are toxic, that are often required.

Most bamboo fabric that is the current eco-fashion rage is chemically manufactured by “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems. … This is basically the same process used to make rayon from wood or cotton waste byproducts. Because of the potential health risks and damage to the environment surrounding the manufacturing facilities, textile manufacturing processes for bamboo or other regenerated fibers using hydrolysis alkalization with multi-phase bleaching are not considered sustainable or environmentally supportable.

(For specifics on the general process for chemically manufacturing bamboo fiber, refer to the OrganicClothing blog, also source for picture at top of page.)

This leaves many fiber crafters who try to limit their environmental “footprint” feeling either guilty or defensive. We need to remind ourselves that it is practically impossible to conform with all one’s ideals. We do the best we can!


About sweatyknitter

Fiber art devotee, author, and amateur artisan bread baker.
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4 Responses to Artificial Yarn (Part 2): Rayon from Bamboo

  1. That’s probably the best we all can do and should strive to emulate. 🙂


  2. Inthink both the environmental issues surrounding how things we use in our daily lives AND any resultant ethical dilemma are all minefields. 🙂


  3. ethgran says:

    Being and Old Thing I am just tickled to be able to have so many choices in yarn. I am a careful recycler, and have always been sparing when using just about everything, from paper to soap. I don’t drink a lot of soda or water out of plastic and so on. I was raised to be conservative with stuff – not really a environmentalist – just the way I is. ;o} Although I do love and respect nature and am careful not to spoil it.


  4. It sounds a bit like the paper towel/hand dryer argument, it just depends on who’s backing the research! That first paragraph doesn’t make a lot of sense and I’m sure the second contradicts it, too many big words for me to be sure! I’ve used bamboo simply because it’s been good value and ideal for warmer climes, when my budget allows I will reintroduce ethics. I’m sure it’s a minefield. 🙂


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