Skip to comments.WOOL
Posted on 04/29/2012 1:42:43 PM PDT by mamelukesabre
It will never cease to amaze me how warm wool is. Last night it got down in the 40s (60 degrees inside my house) after a warm spell that was in the 90s. After getting used to the warmer temps 60 felt very cold while lounging around in shorts and Tshirt, so rather than crank up the furnace, I just put on a wool sweater and wool socks and all was well, even though I was wearing shorts. Then at bedtime, I shed the sweater and I slept under a heavy wool blanket.
I have read the theory about wool's superior moisture wicking being responsible for its warmth. I don't buy it. There is something more to it than that. I have found a cheap(ish), plain, well fitting, 100% wool sweater to be almost as warm as a good quality coat if there is no wind, so I don't think sweating/moisture wicking has anything to do with it.
Anyone know the *REAL* reason wool is so warm? I'd sure like to hear some theories that make more sense than that silly "wicking" explanation.
I don’t know why it is so warm but I do know if one is wearing wool and one gets caught in the rain and gets wet, the wool will still keep you warm. Something cotton cannot do, not to mention synthetic materials. This is the main reason wool is preferred by outdoorsy type people over cotton.
Wool fibers create a lining of still air, one of the best insulators found in nature. These little pockets of air create a dry layer of air next to your skin to hold in heat during colder months and cool your body as outdoor temperatures rise.
Evaporation of moisture is our body’s natural way of keeping cool. Wool helps this process along by drawing moisture from the body during sleep, absorbing it into cells, and reducing skin temperature. When you’re cooler, you toss and turn less often, and sleep more soundly in a deeper REM state.
In summer, outdoor heat is kept away from your skin because of wool’s insulating barrier of air pockets. Sleeping with a lightweight wool comforter acts like an air conditioner.
Where does all that moisture go? The average sleeper gives off nearly a pint of water vapor in an eight-hour sleep period. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp or clammy. The cells of wool fibers are porous, so they quickly and efficiently absorb and evaporate moisture unlike down, which actually holds moisture and can create mildew.
While cotton fabrics can soak up water wool fibers do not.
So while you can drop a wool blanket in a tub of water it will weight a ton, but you can wring the out. While it will feel damp the crinckly nature of the hairs/threads/fibers will be full of air pockets that insulate you.
If you think wool is exciting, try buying a silk shirt. I find them warmer and less scratchy when I ski.
Have you tried asking a sheep?
I’ve never thought wool was scratchy. I don’t understand why people always say that.
Silk is warmer than wool? really? I will have to try that some time.
Big government liberals hate wool.
One more thing to add to your list...
Wool is mildly fireproof. Traditionally, military uniforms were 100% wool partly as a safety feature to help keep soldiers from going up in flames with all the firearms and explosives going off all around them.
True. They lie due to the fact they are frequently profiled and lack midnight basketball facilities.
Or is it “Sheep lie! Sheep lie!”?
If it works so well, why are these sheep wearing jackets?
To keep their wool clean.
For the ultimate in warmth and comfort during cold Chicago winters I go with a layer of silk next to my skin followed by a quality 100% wool suit. The only cotton is the shirt. Put a wool sweater on underneath the suit jacket and you’re good to go till well below freezing.
When it gets really cold the long black wool overcoat tops this off. It’s like wearing your blankets. LOL
Because Lurker has stolen their wool to make his sweaters and coat! They be nekkid.
Would you pardon me while I expound on a theory?
When I was young there was no synthetic bedding.
One had two to three wool blanket on the bed over a sheet. One then had one or two comforters made of heavy cotton batting with duvet covers. Weighed pounds!
If it was really cold parent used to put a crotchet woool blanket or two on top of the whole mound.
Kids were pressed as tightly as pancakes.
When I was ten the family switched to synthetic “puffs”. Boy it was hard to sleep without all the pressure.
My ADD kids sleep best with heavy blankets, woollies when I can get them. Many ADD and ADHD kids use weighted blankets to sleep well.
My theory is that northern cold weather kids have had an increase in behavioral issues due to the lack of pressure while they sleep. Aspberger kids even more so.
Synthetics have largely replaced wool as they are lighter in weight and dry quicker, while still providing insulation (warmth) even when soaked.
My favorite articles though are a pair of pre-shrunk boiled wool mittens made by Dachstein. Most everything requires gloves, but if not those babies get put on w/ a pair windproof shells. If my hands get cold then, I gots problems.
I’ve noticed I can’t stand modern puffy comforters unless I throw a heavy blanket on top of them. If I get too warm I just let my feet hang out.
I’ll be sure to wear it only when in mild fires.
I lived in a Filson wool vest most of last winter, and it was great. I didn’t need a jacket sometimes.
I buy LLBeans longer grey rag-wool socks. They are about 20 dollars for three pair. I like the longer versions. I wear them all winter and on cold nights I have my bed pair.
of course I now have a mattress pad heater and my life is nigh unto wonderful.
Years ago I purchased a pair of ragg wool knee socks, the kind that were used for cross-counry skiing when people wore CC skiing knickers...ok this was in the 90’s. They were wonderful ragg socks and lasted almost 15 years of winter use. Have not been able to find them again.
Silk is actually the warmest fiber, by weight, or so I’ve been told.
Synthetic fleece and advanced materials are much warmer than wool for the weight. Also dry faster and insulate better when wet.
If you want to really know about fabric performance, ask ice climbers and winter mountaineers. Synthetics of various types have almost replaced wool for this group.
I tried some military long underwear made of some kind of synthetic that was supposed to be superior to wool. I didn’t like it. It didn’t feel warmer than wool to me.
A lot of what makes wool and mohair warm is that, when wet or moist, it still insulates. This may be due to polar amino acids holding the water molecules within the helix rather than having water continuous from inside to outside of the fabric, permitting conduction and (liquid) convection.
Also, wool and mohair don't burn and melt easily like artificial fibre, additional reasons that the military use it. I think that for mountaineering, wool is old school. Synthetics are more convenient but not better. If it is your survival, use wool.
I stand corrected but still love wool!:)
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