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The Intrigue Of Wool

A light hearted look at what makes wool such a useful material, now and through the ages. Written professionally the article looks at some of wools best assets.

And how these unique properties can make your bed the perfect haven for a restful night’s sleep
Summer is most definitely here! Whilst we enjoy the heat by day, getting a good night’s sleep can be elusive with temperatures in non-air conditioned rooms reaching sweltering proportions. All over the UK, people are struggling to get the night’s sleep they need to function the next day… and we all know how some people handle this lack of sleep better than others.

And so it seems rather odd to think that the solution to keeping cool at night lies in wool. After all, look at any variety of sheep and you will think warmth – full delightful wool that we associate more with keeping the cold of winter away in woolly jumpers, cardigans and socks and thus, the thought of layering our bed with a wool duvet, mattress topper and pillows seems an odd thing to do in the sweltering heat of summer.

But take a walk through the qualities of wool and you will see just how intriguing a material this is…

Hygroscopic – not a word that is commonly used and you will be forgiven for having no idea what it means! In a nutshell, it describes the property of being able to absorb, retain and release moisture (and, in this case, without affecting wool’s thermal qualities). This is a property unique to not just wool, but to many others too including sugar, salt and honey.

This ability to ‘breathe’ means that wool has been recognised as a great insulator in buildings, especially in places where moisture or fluctuations in humidity is a concern. Hence woolly socks on wet wellingtons mean you still have dry feet. No wonder wool duvets and pillows are becoming an attractive purchase…

Noise – wool can soak up many things, from oil slicks in the sea to noise. Noise is a vibration and sometimes these acoustic interruptions are not welcome. In the home, for example, wool insulation is a great way preventing sound carrying from one room to another. All-in-all, a great property for bringing peace and relative harmony to a household.

Biodegradable – we are all being encouraged to take positive action, thus reducing our impact on the world and the limited non-renewable resources left. As a result, the ‘fashion’ of purchasing and using biodegradable materials has become a firm fixture. Rather than filling landfill with plastic that takes billions of years degrade (if it ever does…), we are now putting biodegradable material on the compost and using it to fertilise the garden. Wool that is no serviceable and done its job, like human hair, will eventually completely breakdown, releasing no harmful chemicals, gases or other nasty stuff that shorten the earth’s natural life.

Nitrogen – is an element that has fabulous properties, especially when released slowly and naturally from wool and other biodegradable substances. It is a rich and much needed fertiliser that surrounding plants and organisms will feed on, growing healthy and lush.

Non-combustible – we are all now aware of the need for new furniture and soft furnishings to ne non-flammable. This is a direct result of phasing out the use of materials that give off harmful gasses when they burn and wool has this magic property! Its flashpoint is around 570°-600° but below these temperature, in its untreated state, it chars, preventing the spread of flames. It then self-extinguishes.

And so, wool is a property with many intriguing qualities that not only keep you warm or cool (depending on the humidity levels, which it ‘works out’ for itself), it also keeps you safe.

Gueat author Paulin Beijen has written this article using her excellent knowledge of wool. Pauline founded Devon Duvets along with her husband and they began developing wool bedding from there very own flock of sheep. Today Pauline heads up a fantastic operation at Devon Duvets who are a big part in the resurgence of wool.

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