Sent by Chelsea Terris
It’s important for every homeowner to know that certain fabrics used to decorate the home are more flammable than others. Awareness of which fabrics are the most flammable can help when selecting fabric for home items like drapery, upholstery and slipcovers.
The four most flammable fabrics in your home are created from using cellulosic material. These include linen, cotton, lyocel and rayon, all light fabrics which allow oxygen to circulate more freely through their fibers. Because flame is fueled by oxygen, this oxygen flow encourages more rapid burning in the event they are exposed to fire.
Meet the Fabrics
Linen and cotton are two of the easiest fabrics to ignite because their texture is lightweight. Because these types of fabrics do not melt or shrink away from open flame, they have a rapid rate of combustion. When materials that include linen or cotton fabric catch fire in a home, smoke results.
Two manufactured cellulose fabrics, lyocel and rayon, rank beneath linen and cotton as the most flammable fabrics in the home. A distinct characteristic of these fabrics, which burn with a yellow flame, is that they shrink once they catch fire and can adhere to human skin, causing life-threatening burns. Heavy and tightly-knitted linen, cotton, lyocel and rayon fabrics, while flammable, tend to be more flame-resistant than fabrics that are lightweight and more loosely knit.
Increased Flammability and Treatment
Untreated natural fabrics such as wool and silk pose less of a threat since they are much more difficult to ignite and often are self-extinguishing once a fire begins. But chemical dyes used in the processing of these fabrics can greatly increase their flammability. Fabrics with nap, such as velvet and velour, also have a higher quotient for catching fire because they ignite much more quickly than fabrics whose surface is smooth.
Many flammable fabrics can be made safer for use in the home by treating with a chemical known as a fire-retardant. If they do catch fire, the chemical treatment helps to greatly slow the progress of the fire and often results in the fabric self-extinguishing before major damage is done.
Polyester fabrics that are constructed using flame-resistant fibers are considered permanently flame resistant. Whether fire-retardancy is built into the construction of the fabric or applied later, a flame-retardant designation is designed to last for the lifespan of the fabric. Smart homeowners should inquire whether or not their fabric choice is flame resistant.
If you wish to use any of these highly flammable fabrics, be certain that these materials have received a flame-retardant treatment before including them in your home decorating scheme. If you have already suffered a home fire, do not hesitate to contact a restoration specialist to assist with the remodeling of your personal sanctuary.