How to Identify Silk Cloth | How To Tell Silk From Polyester
The following method is the easiest way to identify real silk from the fake synthetic one.
The best part?
Its Free and you do not need any fancy equipment or a laboratory to do this.
You can use this method to avoid getting tricked into buying the fake silk scarf.
Moreover, this test can be done on any product even it is a scarf, saree or a piece of fabric.
If you follow the instructions carefully, you can test the product without completely ruining it and save your hard earned money.
Let’s get started.
Things you will be needing:
- the silk product you will be using to perform the test lighter/matchstick, (to burn the silk threads)
- a pair of clipping scissors, (tweezers will work just fine)
- a safe environment to perform the test (you don’t want to burn anything else and cause damage)
Although, you can perform this test at your home or at the vendor’s shop/factory. You should have instant access to water, use a sink or go outside.
Do not worry, the instructions are easy to follow but adequate measures are necessary to ensure safety.
CAUTION: Perform the burn test in a suitable environment.
The Burn Test: An Easy and definitive way to identify real silk
- Using scissors extract two or three silk threads (preferably, horizontal/warp threads) from the fabric carefully using the scissors from the farthest edge of the fabric.
- Twist the threads you’ve just extracted to form a manageable tassel or a bunch.
- Place the threads onto the scissors or pliers and keep it away from your body, loose clothing and flammable objects.
- Now, Carefully ignite the threads using the lighter while observing the smell and burning pattern. The threads should give a smell similar to that of burnt human hair because both silk and hair are made from protein.
- Genuine Silk will only burn as long as the source of flame is in contact with it. The residue formed will get crushed into fine ash upon lightly pressing it.
- On the other hand, polyester or other synthetic (man-made) threads are flammable (unlike silk). Polyester catches fire and burns completely while giving smell similar to that of burnt plastic or paper.
- The residue will form a molten glob with a black smoke and cannot be crushed into fine ash.
- Also, if the silk is a blend of polyester, cotton, modal viscose or other synthetic fibers it will still burn into a molten ball of plastic.
- Blends show similar characteristics to that of fake silk.
Here’s a video that demonstrates the burn test
Sometimes, it is not possible to perform a burn test.
This is where some other methods come in handy:
Other Methods to identify silk
Luster and smoothness test:
Silk is known for its luxurious pearlescent sheen and luster, the color of the fabric should also change slightly depending on how you’re holding it.
The pearlescent effect is obtained by the interference of light reflecting from multiple angles of the product.
Whereas, Artificial fabric tends to have a flat white sheen regardless of the angle. For a smoothness test, run your hand across the material. The fibers should feel sleek, and the entire cloth should drape naturally. Artificial silk won’t be as smooth, and will be stiffer when you try to tie it or drape it around your shoulders or neck.
You can take your product to a third party laboratory and they can perform the tests in a scientific manner. This is really expensive and will take time of a week or more.
Also, you’ll have to sacrifice your fabric. You should choose this as a last resort.
Fun fact: laboratory tests will also include burning the fiber, go figure 😉
Your best bet is to buy silk only from reputed manufacturers and vendors.
There’s a popular misconception in buyers that only the Chinese manufacture some of the best silk you can buy.
But in the recent years, this has changed.
Many shady silk manufacturers and vendors have emerged who sell fake products at a fraction of a price of the original.
Although, it is said that silk was invented by the Chinese but India is one of the few countries where it was produced as early as 1500AD.
India in the modern times has emerged as the second most producer of silk and its products.
Only reputed manufacturers and exporters are known to sell genuine products shall be entrusted as suppliers of silk scarves, shawls and other fashion accessories.
At Tri Star Overseas, we have been manufacturing and exporting scarves and shawls made from 100% mulberry silk since 1957 and exporting to many of reputed fashion brands across the world.
Our scarves pass burn tests, even third party laboratory tests.
Hope this method helps you to test the silk and its genuineness. Here’s an infographic you might want to keep in handy
Let us know in the comments 🙂