...bamboo fiber is a type of rayon made out of the largest and fastest growing grass in the world? Its ability to grow an average of 12-17 inches a day without pesticides and chemical fertilizers makes it a very sustainable source of raw cellulose material. It is easily harvested from family farms where it often is already growing naturally thereby extending the ability of small farmers to support themselves. Once it has been cut it quickly re-grows and can be harvested again, often in just a matter of weeks.
Bamboo Rayons have pretty decent strength for that type of fabric, which is commonly made even better by mixing it with some good old cotton. This is what we did with our new Bamboo Cotton blend baby layette items. Then it has the best properties of both fabrics. Bamboo and bamboo blends also take Fiber Reactive dyes like a champ! If it is bleached white (like our baby clothes), it is fantastic for tie dye!
Bamboo fibers are very absorbent, 3-4 times more so then cotton, which means that fabrics made from these fibers have amazing wicking properties which can help you stay feeling dry and cool in warm weather. This is due to the high number of micro-capillary spaces in the fibers that draw up water like quick drying micro-fiber towels do.
Due to the round shape of the fibers bamboo is extremely soft and the softness increases with each time it is washed. This makes it a wonderful fabric for people with skin that is very sensitive to rough textures and it is considered by some to be hypoallergenic because of this. It also makes it fantastic for baby wear!
The fibers are also reported to have anti-bacterial properties due to a naturally occurring bio-agent that manufacturers have named bamboo kun. This anti-bacteria agent is claimed to have been confirmed by the Japan Textile Inspection Association and that even after fifty washings, bamboo fiber fabric still possesses excellent anti-bacterial properties. Test result are said to show over 70% death rate after bacteria have been incubated on bamboo fiber fabric. This has not yet been confirmed by United States inspection agencies however. In our own experience we know that we have found a great reduction in foot odor when wearing our bamboo socks. This kind of odor is generally caused by bacteria when fabric cannot wick efficiently so it may be a combination of the bamboo fiber's absorbency and anti-bacterial properties.
Another exciting attribute of bamboo is its good UV protection rating. Un-dyed bamboo fabrics tested in the USA have scored 18.3 on the UPF scale with 94.15% UVA blocking and 93.17% UVB blocking. This makes it an ideal fabric for garments for people with fair skin or chemical sensitivities, such as babies, that are prone to sunburn. Un-dyed cotton garments offer very little protection from UV rays; they must be dyed or treated with UV blocking rinses to provide adequate UV protection.
Because bamboo is a plant material it is completely biodegradable once a garment has worn out and is disposed of, you could even theoretically add it to a compost pile. Those Polyester micro fibers are going to stay around in the environment for years. Plus, a lot of synthetics rely on oil by-products. Now is a good time to start appreciating all the natural fibers again!
Bamboo is a grass, a member of the plant family Poaceae. There are over 1,000 species of bamboo that range in size from the thickness of a finger to huge timber bamboos that are larger around then a man's arm. It grows around the world and has been used for centuries as a source of raw building material for houses, furniture, fishing poles, and more recently for things like cutting boards and home flooring. It is also the favorite food of the Giant Panda and young bamboo shoots are a popular addition to Asian foods. Now, of course, it is getting rave reviews as a fantastic fabric!