When dyeing with natural colour, the selection of the fabric is a key step, Natural dyes only work with natural fibre. this means fibre made using a natural source, like a part of a plant or animal fur. But if you have at home a piece of fabric that you want to dye, and you don't remember the material that is made of, what do you do?
Here I'm going to explain a simple way to differentiate a natural fabric from a synthetical one.
How to differentiate a natural fibre from a synthetic?
You are going to need:
A piece of fabric, of which you want to know its composition.
A ceramic plate ( to put the ashes)
A glass of water for safety reason
Take the fabric and cut a small piece of it, like 5 cm.
Take the piece of fabric with the tweezers and with the lighter, burn a small part of the fabric
See how the fabric burns and what it smells like.
Natural fabric will
-Produce a lot of smoke
-Burn to ashes
-Smell of burnt paper (Cellulose fibre) or hair (proteinic fibre)
Synthetic fabric will
-Burn slowly or turn itself off ( depend on the fire safety regulation in your country)
-Produce little smoke or very back smoke
-Became sticky when burning
-Smell like plastic
Let say for example that you have a linen fabric when you burn the fabric it will:
Burn fast, you will see a light yellow flame that advances quickly in the fabric.
this flame will produce a grey or white smoke but never a black or dark smoke, and will produce a lot more in comparison with a piece of synthetic fabric.
the smoke will have a strong smell of burning paper
the when you touch very carefully the fabric after burn the burnt part will turn into ashes.
( be very careful because it may be still hot, especially with synthetic fabric)
And if the fabric is synthetic you will notice that the fabric will:
Burn slowly or turn itself down ( depending on the fire safety regulations in your country)
the flame will produce a black smoke like the one you see in the picture above this smoke will have a strong smell of burned plastic. When the flame if gone the burning fabric will turn sticky and when it dries it will become a hard black ball.
That is all, as you can see this is a very easy and cheap way to know if a fabric is natural or synthetical. When I was studying fashion design in the university I always carried a lighter when I go to buy fabrics; you can always ask for a small sample to test the composition of the fabric.
If you want to see the fabric while they burn, in order to undestand better, check this video:
Let me know your result, I will love to see your experiments; please tag me on my Instagram @casacaribeitalia.