Burn Test to Determine Fiber Content of Fabric

When you are unsure of the fiber content of a fabric the easiest way to find out what it is,  is to do a burn test.

First, gather a few supplies:

  • Leather gloves to protect your hands,
  • Tweezers or a pair of pliers to hold the fabric,
  • A lighter or matches
  • Most importantly, a bowl of water in case the fabric goes up in flames.

Next, burn the fabric and note what happens.

Generally, natural cellulose fibers will burn quickly and smell a lot like burning paper. Natural protein fibers won’t catch fire quickly—rather it will char—and will smell like burning hair. Synthetic fibers tend to melt when they come in contact with a flame and will leave a bead of plastic behind.

Watch this video for a full demonstration


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