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Lyocell: the ecological fabric

Lyocell: the ecological fabric

Lyocell, also called tencel, is the artificial cellulosic fiber considered most compatible with the environment. There are certainly still discussions about it and research is progressing, however it is worth knowing where it comes from and what characteristics it has.

The Lyocell it is obtained from eucalyptus wood pulp and is one of the raw materials used in the textile industry, we find it in the clothing sector, but also used to obtain technical fabrics or for furnishings. Less common but still possible uses are in the production of paper with special characteristics, synthetic leather and hygiene products, filters and garments for the protection of workers.

The first company to produce the lyocell was Courtaulds Fibers Inc. in 1988, marketing it only four years later under the name of tencel. As the rumor passed, of the extraordinary nature of this fiber, and the Austrian began to produce it Lenzing AG. His trade name became Lenzing Lyocell.

Lyocell: what is it

The Lyocell belongs to the family of synthetic and artificial fibers made with biodegradable materials, a category that must be properly separated and enhanced with respect to synthetic fibers derived from petroleum. It is derived from eucalyptus trees and it is estimated that with only half an acre of trees it is possible to obtain a ton of Lyocell fiber: a minimum quantity compared to that required by cotton which needs at least 5 times as much soil, of good quality, of course.

Regarding the consumption of water, on the one hand we know that eucalyptus trees do not need irrigation, but we cannot pretend that it is not needed when it comes to treating the pulp of this wood to transform it into Lyocell. The total bill is 154.7 liters of water per kilo of fiber, still much less than even the organic cotton that comes to us from California.

During the production process of our very green fiber, the cellulose is crushed and dissolved in NMMO-monohydrate (N-methylmorpholine-N-Oxide-monohydrate), precisely due to the fact that during production very low level chemicals are used such as just mentioned, Lyocell has obtained the certificate with the European eco-label Oeko Tex 100.

In general to date the Tencel it is made, from the point of view of treatment, in Austria, United Kingdom, and also in the United States, but the trees indispensable to have it, the eucalyptus, come from South Africa.

Lyocell: characteristics

Excellent resistance, good breathability and moisture absorption are the main features of the Lyocell that already at first glance, and to the layman like me, something different appears clearly. Cotton has a rough and irregular texture while the fiber deriving from eucalyptus is smooth and elastic.

As for the resistance, we can speak of an excellent performance up to 40 ° C. So far, no problem, if you get close to 60 ° C, “shrinkage” of around 5% can occur. To the touch it is soft and smooth, with fluid drapery and versatility. THE colors are intense and rich thanks to the high absorption capacity of the fibers. This splendor requires treatments that can risk compromising the Lyocell quality with the appearance of pilling, definitely unaesthetic.

Among the advantages we have also mentioned a higher moisture absorption than other similarly used materials: various chordate which in our case the base is eucalyptus wood, capable of absorbing moisture in a natural way. The Tencel that we get from it does nothing but exploit the already intrinsic quality by differentiating itself from cotton which absorbs on average 50% less. In addition to absorbing moisture, the Lyocell it is also hypoallergenic because it can filter bacteria and other pollutants.

Lyocell: washing

In general clothes and how much like made of Lyocell it can be washed in the washing machine and then dried, what is often advised is to treat these garments as if they were a cotton or cotton-polyester blend. It is preferable to rinse with cold water and dry at a temperature that is not too high, but if we let a dress of Lyocell in the air, let's not complain if it becomes a little stiff.

There is no need to iron it, then, but if you really want to: iron at a low temperature and without steam. High temperatures can damage the Lyocell while the steam can leave stains. It is best to forego ironing and leave the dress in question hanging in a warm, humid environment such as a bathroom until it dries.

As for products such as bleach, it can happen that they interact with the dye leaving stains, even the stain remover can damage if passed to a still wet fabric. When we put away our clothes Tencel fiber in the closet, we do not use plastic bags or bags, or similar containers, because it is like delivering them to moths and molds that can safely damage them. They need to be in a cool, well-ventilated area.

Lyocell: opinions

On the green nature of Lyocell there is someone who has his doubts. And in this case, he points his finger at the considerable input of energy that occurs in the conversion process. When the pulp of the eucalyptus is transformed into a soft fiber that can be used for weaving, being woody, it requires a lot of effort, more than in the case of cotton. With bamboo, however, it must be said that it is even worse fiber obtained in that case is considered natural semi-synthetic.

When you have the pulp of eucalyptus between the hands, it is reduced into a cellulose viscose and then extruded in a spinneret, there are obtained long fibers which are then woven to form the Lyocell. During the entire processing, the only chemical substance used is the solvent which is also non-toxic, and it is also possible to reuse 99% of the substance in a closed cycle process.

In this way, beyond the opinions, theimpact on the environment and, in general, the resulting polluting fumes and water are so scarce that even the most critical agree that they are practically harmless. Also on the issue of being biodegradable, for the Lyocell, there are those who grumble. What turns out is that it is to be considered biodegradable because it is one cellulosic fiber: Even if it does not decompose completely in a landfill, this fiber can decompose in just 8 days in certain environments.

Lyocell running band

Now that we know everything about the Lyocell, or at least we could get an idea of ​​it, here are some items that we can wear if we are convinced of its "honesty". For example, at € 27 there is one running headband, it is for the neck but multifunctional. You can indulge yourself with your imagination, not much with colors because there is black, or at most blue.

Lyocell cushion

Reminding us that it is also hypoallergenic and very hygienic, the Lyocell, Having a pillow of this material, 80 x 80 cm is a great luck. At your fingertips and in your wallet since on line for about 50 euros we find for example a pillow of 70% duvet and white feathers and 30% lyocell for a total weight of 1100 grams. To the touch it is stiff, the pillowcase is 100% cotton and washable at 60 °.

Lyocell women's T-shirt

The simplest thing to try the Lyocell on our skin, round and round, is one simple and clear t-shirt. With around twenty euros you can find women's shoes, in light blue or blue and in various sizes, short sleeves, without collar. Before redoing the whole wardrobe in eucalyptus fiber it is good to experiment if we like it to the touch, sight and on us.

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