Flammability of Fabrics

Flammabilityof Fabrics

Flammabilityof Fabrics

Fabricsburn, but some of them are more combustible than For instance, wool,which is more difficult to catch fire, and burns with a low flamevelocity does not burn more readily like the untreated natural fiberssuch as linen, cotton, and silk (Binggeli,Greichen &amp McGowan, 2011).Burn tests are very helpful since they are used in determining thecomposition of a fabric, that is, if the composition of a fabric ismade up of synthetic or natural fibers (Godsey,2013).This paper will analyze characteristics such as the color of theflame, odor, and color of the ash obtained from burning severalfabrics. It will also address to detail the most flammable blend andreasons behind it and discuss whether the color and pattern of ablend has an effect on flammability of a blend.

Burningtests are not full proof, and the characteristics deducted from thistest are affected by a several factors. For example, if a fabric hasa composition of blends of fibers, identifying the characteristics ofeach of the fibers can be difficult (Mallick,2012).Burning together two or three different fibers in one yard may alsobe difficult to distinguish. In such cases, the burning attributes aswell as the odor exhibited may be that of several fibers and thismakes the analysis of the results difficult. Generally, it has beenestablished that if a fabric burns to produce some soft ash, and theodor is that of a burning paper or hair, then the fiber is natural.Additionally, cellulosic fibers, for instance, rayon, linen, andcotton burn rapidly producing a yellow flame (Rosace,Migani, Guido &amp Colleoni, 2015).When the flame goes off, there is usually an afterglow, leavingbehind some soft gray ash. For the case of synthetic fibers, theytend to both burn and melt, and shrink away from the flame. It hasbeen established that synthetic fibers burn with a chemical, vinegar,or acrid-like odor, leaving behind a plastic bead. Some of theburning tests carried out are tabulated in figure one (Rosace et al.,2015).


65%polyester and 36% cotton

30%cotton and 30% polyester and 40% Rayon

97%Rayon and 30% spandex

88%cotton and 12% metallic

53%linen and 47% Rayon

88%polyester and 15% wool

82%nylon and 18% spandex


Sevensmall samples of yarns from different fabrics were pulled and twistedtogether into a bundle. One end of the bundle, the blend, was heldusing tweezers over some sheet of aluminum foil to protect theworking area. This ensued that on ignition, the sample would bedropped into the foil without damaging the working area.

Automaticlighters were used as flame.



Color of smoke


Ash or residue

65% polyester and 36% cotton



hard cream-colored bead

30% cotton and 30% polyester and 40% Rayon


Odor of burning hair

feathery, gray ash

97% Rayon and 30% spandex


Odor of burning hair

feathery, gray ash

88% cotton and 12% metallic


Odor of burning hair

feathery, gray ash

53% linen and 47% Rayon


Odor of burning hair

feathery, gray ash

88% polyester and 15% wool



hard cream-colored bead

82% nylon and 18% spandex



hard cream-colored bead


Whichis the most flammable blend and why?

Fromthe experiment, it was observed that the most flammable blend wasthat composed of 97% Rayon and 30% spandex. According to Beroes(2014),a fabric whose yarn twist is loose, loose knit, loose weave, and witha small diameter of the fiber ignites readily. These characteristicsenables a fabric to burn rapidly and ignite quickly. Particularly, agarment that burns rapidly is extremely hazardous because rescue timeis little or probably even no time. According to Beroes(2014),the ease with a fabric ignites, and the rapidity of the rate ofburning for different materials, starting with the most flammable isas follows

  1. Rayon

  2. Polyester/cotton blends

  3. Cotton

  4. Acetate

  5. Nylon

  6. Polyester

  7. Nomex

  8. Kevlar

  9. Silk

  10. Wool

Fibersthat are exposed and produce a cuddly feeling can ignite easily andcause flames to spread in all directions in a very short time span.This is because these fibers have individual fibers that are exposedand can rapidly be gasified by a very small source of heat and ignitequickly (Kamath,2011).The analogy behind illustrating this is the principle which describesthat it is way much easier to ignite a shaving wood than it is inlighting a log. Additionally, a single fiber has small mass, and thisrequires a small amount of heat energy to elevate its temperature(Müssig&amp Wiley InterScience, 2011).This means that little energy is required to reach gasificationtemperature. Besides the low mass, its relatively high surface areaalso makes it easier for it to be heated to a high temperaturerapidly (Schmidt,Bach &amp Schollmeyer, 2012).Therefore, the transfer of heat energy into the fiber is with ease,hence raising the temperature rapidly. This is the explanation behindwhy a surface flash of flame sweeps rapidly across heavily nappedsurfaces (Hansen&amp Frame, 2012).

Doescolor and pattern affect flammability?

Weightand pattern of the fabric will at large extent affect the ease withwhich a fiber material will ignite and burn but color does not(Nielson,2012).The same fiber, but used in different kinds of fabric with differentpatterns will burn at different rates. This is because, if a certainpattern allows more air circulation, then more oxygen is availablefor burning. For this reason, fabric materials with a tight weave arerecommended (Nielson,2012).Fabrics that are heavy and tight tend to burn more slowly compared toloose weave, light fabrics of the same material.


Thepaper has analyzed the characteristics, for instance, the color ofthe flame, the odor, and color of the ash obtained from burningseveral fabrics. The paper has also addressed to detail the mostflammable blend and reasons behind it. Finally, the paper has alsodiscussed whether the color and pattern of a blend has an effect onflammability of a blend. It was also noted that burning tests are notfull proof, and the characteristics deducted from these tests areaffected by a several factors.


Beroes,C. S. (2014).&nbspThedangerous flammable fabrics: Burning ourselves, our children and oursenior citizens.Bloomington, IN.: Authorhouse.

Binggeli,C., Greichen, P., &amp McGowan, M. (2011).&nbspInteriorgraphic standards.Hoboken: John Wiley &amp Sons.

Godsey,L. (2013).&nbspInteriordesign: Materials and specifications.New York : Fairchild Books

Hansen,J. G. R., &amp Frame, B. J. (2012). Flame penetration and burntesting of fire blanket materials.&nbspFireand Materials,&nbsp32(8),457-483.

Kamath,M. G. (2011). Flame Retardant Mattress Pads.&nbspDoctoralDissertations,56.

Mallick,P. K. (2012).&nbspFiber-reinforcedcomposites: materials, manufacturing, and design.CRC press.

Müssig,J., &amp Wiley InterScience (Online service). (2011).&nbspIndustrialapplication of natural fibres: Structure, properties, and technicalapplications.Chichester, West Sussex, U.K: Wiley.

Nielson,K. J. (2012).&nbspInteriortextiles: Fabrics, applications, &amp historical styles.Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley &amp Sons.

Rosace,G., Migani, V., Guido, E., &amp Colleoni, C. (2015). Flame retardantfinishing for textiles. In&nbspFlameretardants&nbsp(pp.209-246). New York, N.Y: Springer International Publishing.

Schmidt,A., Bach, E., &amp Schollmeyer, E. (2012). Damage to natural andsynthetic fibers treated in supercritical carbon dioxide at 300 barand temperatures up to 160 C.&nbspTextileresearch journal,&nbsp72(11),1023-1032.