Sometimes, care labels on garments can tell you the type of fabric and how to care for it. However, often these labels are not available. It is therefore necessary that you learn hot to identify fabrics using simple scientific experiments and tests.
Simple scientific experiments and tests for textile fibres include:
- appearance and handle.
- microscopic appearance.
- strength test.
- burning test.
1. Appearance and handle: This is not a definite test. This is because a number of fabric can have similar appearance and handle.
Examine the fabric closely and feel its texture with your fingers.
2. Microscopic test: This is a test to study the structure of the fibre under a microscope.
- pull a fibre from the fabric.
- mount the fibre on a slide with coverslip.
- examine specimen under low power. Repeat under high power.
- note whether fibres are rounded or flat. Observe other properties such as makings on the fibre.
3. Strength test: This is a test of both the wet and dry strengths of fibres.
- draw two yarns or threads from the length-wise grain of the fabric.
- wet one thoroughly in water.
- hold the dry yarn between the first finger and thumb of each hand and pull.
- repeat the pulling with the wet yarn.
- note the strength of each. Find out if the wet yarn is weaker, stronger or the same as the dry one.
4. Burning test:
- draw a yarn, or several yarns (threads) from the fabric.
- hold the yarns in flame of lighted candle, match or gas burner and withdraw rapidly.
Observe the following:
a) whether the yarn:
- continues to burn out of the flame
- shrinks from the flames and melts
- melts and burns.
b) Smell the fumes. The smell could be of burning paper, hair, vinegar, burnt meat, boiling celery.
c) Observe the nature of the ash. The colour can be light and powdery, or a bead. If is a bead, press it between the fingers when cold. Note whether it crushes or remains hard.