Wool is defined as any protein fiber that can be removed from an animal and spun into a yarn. Wool is a popular choice for suits and formal attire and is available in many weights and textures. Learning more about the benefits of wool can help you make more informed decisions on the clothes that you choose to make or buy.
Wool fiber consists of an inner core of protein that is covered and protected by overlapping scales. The scales are hard, which increases the durability of the fiber. The wool fiber itself is strong and elastic. It tends to be wavy or crimped depending on the animal that it came from. Wool naturally contains lanolin, which is a type of grease that repels water.
Wool is known for its durability and flexibility. When worn against the skin, it wicks away perspiration and allows it to evaporate. This makes wool a great favorite for people who will be working in hot environments. Due to the lanolin and scales on the wool, it is resistant to stains. It is also a good insulator and will keep heat close to the body.
Though sheep's wool is the most common type of wool, there are several different types, all with individual benefits. Alpaca wool has a luster in the fibers, and tends to be silky and significantly lighter than wool from sheep. The Angora goat produces mohair wool, which is lightweight but still very durable. Angora wool comes from Angora rabbits. Angora wool is very soft and has the best heat-retaining properties of all natural wool. Cashmere comes from Kashmir goats, and is considered a luxury fiber for its delicacy and weight. Camelhair wool is produced by camels, and is known for its golden-brown color, soft texture and lustrous shine.
In order to make the benefits of wool last, it is important to take care of garments made from wool. Wool cannot be bleached, and it should not be placed in the dryer because it might shrink. Similarly, wool is very attractive to moths, who will chew holes in it. To keep your wool looking its best, only use a mild detergent on it, as stronger detergents will cause wool to lose its soft luster.
One common misconception about wool is that it is always scratchy. The truth is that wool can become scratchy if the wool fibers become dried out from dyeing and bleaching. Garments made out of natural wool are very soft. It is inappropriate care or production that removes this benefit from wool.
- Camel image by Mladenov from Fotolia.com