Silk Comforter FAQ

What is a silk comforter?

A silk comforter is a type of bed covering originally from China, but now common throughout the world. It is also known as a silk duvet or silk blanket, and like blankets, it is used for warmth. A silk comforter is similar to a down comforter (or duvet), in that it is really a large "envelope" of fabric filled with some insulating material. Silk comforters are filled with silk floss (similar in texture to stretched out cotton balls) as the insulating material, and their outer covering is also often made of silk, making them not only warm, but also luxurious.

Where can I buy a silk comforter?

Call your local department store to see if they carry them, or buy it online from a small boutique shop, which tend to carry higher quality merchandise than the chain stores. Standard caveats apply to online stores. See our more detailed article on this subject here: Shopping for a Silk Comforter .

How do silk comforters work?

Silk comforters are usually inserted into a cover (called a duvet cover), and then placed directly on top of the sleeper. Some prefer to use a top sheet as an additional layer for added simplicity in care. Because they are made of silk, which is an insulator on par with down, the silk comforter is especially warm for its light weight.

What are the advantages of silk and silk comforters?

Not only is silk an excellent insulator, but it is long-lasting, temperature adjusting, breathable, luxurious, very lightweight, flows naturally over your body, is naturally hypoallergenic and requires no chemicals for processing, and is a natural, renewable resource. Using silk can also save you money while also helping the planet, by allowing you to lower you thermostat on cold winter nights.

How does silk compare to down?

Silk offers many advantages over down. Both are natural, renewable materials that are excellent insulators and also extremely lightweight. However, whereas silk is naturally hypoallergenic, down must be cleaned to remove common allergens and dander, a process that often involves the use of chemicals. When down is used as comforter fill, the comforter must be specially sewn to avoid bunching and cold spots, which adds to the overall price of the product. Silk filling is silk floss that has been stretched and layered, making bunching impossible. Down feathers also have a tendency to "leak" through the outer cover, something silk would never do since it is one continuous strand. See also: How to Buy a Comforter

What are the different types of silk used in silk comforters?

Mulberry silk is created by the bombyx mori silkworm from a diet of exclusively Mulberry tree leaves, producing the highest quality silk of a single strand. Habotai silk is a type of silk fabric - silk with a smooth, even weave (habotai means "soft as down" in Japanese). Dupioni silk is made from double cocoons nested together - the threads are uneven and irregular. Tussah silk is a plain weave silk fabric from 'wild' silk worms with unregulated diets. It has irregular thick and thin yarns creating uneven surface and color, since the silk worms are allowed to hatch and tear a hole through the cocoon, breaking the single strand into multiple strands.

What does silk feel like?

The "hand" of silk is exceptionally smooth and flowing. It is so light and soft that when you run it across your skin, it feels like a gentle breeze or fresh stream of water. It naturally and instantly warms to the touch, yet breathes and lets air pass through.

How is silk made?

Silk is the product of the silk moth larva, or silkworm, which encases itself in a cocoon. This cocoon is one, long strand of protein fiber, designed to protect and harbor the silkworm while it transforms itself into the moth. The cocoons are soaked in hot water or steamed to dissolve the sticky substance called sericin that holds them together, and the silk strand is then separated, reeled, and twisted into threads used for weaving the silk fabric. See also: How Silk is Made

What's the difference between a comforter and a duvet?

Comforters and duvets are basically the same thing - flat bags filled with material, used as bedding. The term duvet is used to describe a comforter that is designed to be covered, and usually a duvet is filled with down. Many people also use the term duvet by itself to refer to the duvet cover, but this is technically not correct.

How / why is silk hypoallergenic ?

Silk's hypoallergenic properties stem from a number of features. First, silk starts out simple and clean - merely a strand of fiber held together with a natural glue called sericin. So, it does not have any allergy triggering substances. Second, silk is processed with little or no chemicals. Third, sericin is a natural repellent , making silk inhospitable to dust mites, a major source of allergens. Finally, silk maintains its structure for a very long time, unlike down which can degrade and fall apart, creating tiny pieces that can cause irritations. See also: Silk's Hypoallergenic Properties

How / why is silk temperature-adjusting? What about down?

Both down and silk have some level of temperature adjusting abilities, due to their ability to "breathe" and to absorb excess moisture. Because less silk is needed for the same amount of warmth, the thinner silk comforter is able to let more air pass through without compromising warmth. Also, silk has a greater ability to absorb moisture than down (up to a third of its weight), which keeps you dry and comfortable while sleeping.

How can silk save on winter heating bills?

A silk comforter allows you to snuggle up inside your own little "cocoon," allowing you to set the thermostat back significantly for that third of the day that you are asleep. This not only saves you money on heating, but also helps reduce environmental pollution. See also: Shopping for Silk Comforters

Who should buy a silk comforter, who should not?

Silk's long list of advantages make it ideal for just about everyone. However, it may not be suitable for small children that may soil their bedding, or in households where pets have a tendency to damage bedding.

How long does silk last?

If properly cared for (see below), silk should last over ten years, and possibly for many decades, with the potential of becoming an heirloom, much like traditional quilts.

How do I care for silk or silk comforters?

Although most silk products are washable if the cleaning is done with extra care, the unique construction of silk comforters with raw silk floss means silk comforters need special treatment. Using a duvet cover and top sheet will minimize the need to clean the comforter. Placing the comforter in the warm sun is the traditional way to revive a silk comforter that has flattened from use. On the rare occasion when cleaning is required, professional dry cleaning or wet cleaning are required. See also: Silk Comforter Care

How do I store silk or silk comforters?

Silk is a natural fabric, and needs protection when stored for long periods. Wrap it in its duvet cover, store in a dark, cool, dry place, protected from insects and moisture. See also: Silk Comforter Care

What weight of silk comforter should I buy?

Silk warmth is measured by the amount of silk fill used, in pounds or kilograms. Different manufacturers offer a wide range of fill weights ranging from 1 to 6 or more pounds. The weight you choose will depend on your climate and sleeping preferences. See our article on how to choose a silk comforter for more details.

Is silk production cruel to animals or people?

Most silk production involves shortening the lifespan of the silk moth by destroying the worm before it has a chance chew its way out of the cocoon and damage the silk strand. This is usually accomplished with hot water or steam. The silk moth has been domesticated for thousands of years, and now is entirely dependent on humans for its survival. "Wild" or Tussah silk does allow the silk moth to live its full lifespan, but this comes at the cost of shorter strands that must be spun into yarn instead of thread. Silk production is like most fabric production - it involves a lot of hand work. Because of silk's high value, though, there is more potential for profits to find their way to the skilled worker. Silk also lends itself to entrepreneurial individuals, since start-up costs for small scale operations are quite low.

Is there a synthetic alternative to silk?

Several man-made materials, including countless varieties of rayon, polyester, and nylon, are meant to simulate the look, feel, and other properties of silk, but all fall short in one aspect or another.

What is sericulture?

Sericulture is the art and science of raising silkworms and harvesting their cocoons. Sericulture is an ancient craft handed down and perfected over the course of thousands of years. It was once a heavily guarded secret in China, but is now practiced the world over. A sericulturist is especially skilled in maintaining a precisely controlled environment (temperature and humidity) for the silk worm, and in growing the mulberry tree that is used as food. See also: How Silk is Made
















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