Synthetic fibers vs natural fibers – which one is better to wear? Synthetic fibers are made by humans with chemical synthesis through a process of polymerization. They are different to natural fibers that are derived from living organisms with little or no chemical changes. Synthetic fibers were first developed to try to replace natural fibers as the demand for textiles for clothing was exceeding the supply.
Here we are looking at natural fibers for textiles. There are 2 types of fibers that can be used in the manufacturing of textiles, natural fibers and man-made or synthetic fibers. To understand what are natural fibers, we need to look at the different sources.
Natural fibers are produced by animals, plants or geological (mineral) processes. Natural fibers are classified according to their origin and there are 3 categories:
- Cellulose based fibers which are derived from plants (vegetable) like cotton, flax or linen, sisal, hemp and jute.
- Protein based fibers which come from animals like wool, mohair and silk.
- Mineral fibers come from geological processes like asbestos, ceramic (glass fiber) and metal (aluminium) fibers. These fibers are mainly used in the building and construction industry. They are not commonly used in textile manufacturing so we will not look at them in more detail here.