What Type of Household Fabric Is Most Flammable?

Written by rich quayshaun
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No household fabric is flame-resistant, however, certain fabric materials are more flammable than others. Cellulosic materials -- cotton, linen, rayon and lyocel -- are the most flammable fabrics because they are lighter in texture and have more oxygen circulating through them. Oxygen is the source of fuel for fires and makes ignition both easier and more vigorous.

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Cotton and Linen

Cotton and linen are the two most flammable household fabrics. They are easy to ignite due to their light, airy texture and they burn the fastest of all fabrics because they do not melt or draw away from fires. When cotton and linen burn, the fire is usually yellow with red embers and the smoke is a light colour.

Rayon and Lyocel

Rayon and lyocel are the second most flammable household fabric. Rayon and lyocel are manufactured cellulose fabrics, meaning they burn slightly different from cotton and linen, which are natural cellulose fabrics. Rayon and lyocel burn with yellow fires, red embers and light-coloured smoke, similar to that of cotton and linen. However, unlike cotton and linen, rayon and lyocel tend to shrink as they burn, so they might become stuck to the skin if the material is in the form of clothing.

Designs Affect on Flammability

While cotton, linen, rayon and lyocel might be the most flammable materials, not all of them ignite the same. The knitting and weight of the fabric design effects the flammability of the material. If a fabric is heavy and tightly-knitted, it is more resistant to fire than a fabric light and loose-knitted of the same material. Lighter and loose-knitted fabrics are exposed to more oxygen, giving more fuel for a fire. Therefore, summer clothing is more flammable than winter clothing.

Decreasing Material Flammability

While flammable fabrics cannot be made completely flame-resistant, the flammability can be lowered dramatically. Spraying a chemical flame retardant on household fabrics lowers flammability, and should especially be sprayed on curtains and furniture. If sprayed on clothes, special maintenance on those fabrics is required to keep the flame-retardant on it. Check tags for specific instructions, or use directions on the flame-retardant if tags do not specify.

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