Bamboo is widely known as one of the best eco friendly materials around the world. With its high versatility, durability, and sustainability, bamboo is quickly becoming a common alternative for almost every household item you can think of. Bamboo has recently entered the clothing market offering soft yet durable clothing for the environmentally conscious. In this post, we’re going to explore how bamboo socks are made and what makes them so popular.
Bamboo is known as one of the most sustainable materials on the planet for good reason. Not only does it grow much faster than trees, but is also extremely durable and lined with a natural antibacterial. The unique properties of bamboo help make it versatile and consequently a favorite among the eco-conscious community. If you want to learn more, check out my article on why bamboo is so eco friendly.
As bamboo comes with a naturally built-in antibacterial and antifungal (thanks to a material called bamboo Kun), using it to make socks makes perfect sense. Bamboo’s soft and durable properties help it make a choice of material for everyday items such as eco friendly toilet paper, as well as the contender for making soft, durable clothing.
Our feet are probably one of the most contaminated parts of the body, often becoming stinky or infected with fungi. Bamboo’s anti-fungal properties help create a fiber that prevents the build-up of fungi as well as retain the softness found in clothing materials such as cotton. Bamboo socks, therefore, have become widely popular not just among mountaineers and athletes, but the general public as well in recent times.
Now, moving on to how bamboo socks are made; Bamboo is a hard, wood-like material, so obviously before we can move on to making anything soft out of bamboo, we need to somehow make the bamboo soft. For this purpose, the bamboo goes through a specific process that converts it to what is called “bamboo fiber”
What is bamboo fiber?
Bamboo fiber is a soft, cotton-like material used to manufacture alternative clothing products. The fiber is sterile, soft, and durable which makes it perfect for innerwear such as underwear and socks. In order to create bamboo fiber, raw bamboo goes through the following series of processes:
- The bamboo first harvested and crushed into smaller pieces
- Crushed bamboo is then soaked in a solution of sodium hydroxide (NaOH). The bamboo is left in the solution for a few hours which produces a substance called cellulose
- Excess sodium hydroxide is removed by pressing the soaked bamboo
- The bamboo pulp is pressed into sheets. These sheets are then dried so they can be easily transported and stored unlike when wet.
- Multiple chemicals are added such as carbon disulfide and more sodium hydroxide to produce a viscous solution containing bamboo fiber
Although the use of sodium hydroxide is not considered eco friendly given the potential harm to human life, the use of this chemical in controlled amounts is considered completely safe and is even approved by the Global Organic Textile Standards.
How bamboo socks are made
In order to create bamboo socks, the bamboo fiber must be converted to bamboo yarn. Bamboo yarn is created by squirting the viscous bamboo fiber solution into a sulfuric acid solution. The squirts solidify into a long bamboo thread which is then collected by a spinner to create the bamboo yarn.
This bamboo yarn is very similar to the yarn made using cotton, silk, or synthetic fibers. The yarn is then knitted to create clothing, undergarments, and innerwear such as socks.
Why bamboo socks?
Apart from having a natural antifungal to prevent odors or fungi from infiltrating your feet, bamboo socks are surprisingly durable and soft. Socks made from traditional fibers such as cotton need to undergo treatment in order to be fit for use, which may involve chemicals that are harmful to both the atmosphere and humans. In contrast, the bamboo is not treated with any chemicals and is fit for use as soon as the thread is extracted from the pulp. This helps bamboo thread keep that softness that is often lacking in socks made from cotton.
The stability and durability of bamboo in nature also translate to the fiber, which helps the products such as socks created from bamboo fiber be quite durable, allowing them to last longer than your average cotton socks.
Bamboo socks are not just eco friendly, but also cost-effective for both the manufacturer and the customer. Chemical treatments are expensive, and since bamboo fiber doesn’t require the treatment it helps keep the manufacturing costs down. As bamboo socks last longer, the consumer saves money on a new pair of socks every few months.
Bamboo socks are a revolutionary product that offers durability and promotes eco friendliness. It not only saves the environment but also helps save money and resources that can be utilized elsewhere. A single strand of cotton that grows to full maturity in a few months can now be replaced by an alternative that can grow several feet in a matter of days. This sustainability, durability, and affordability are what have made bamboo socks (and bamboo garments in general) popular among audiences of all ages.