Even to the trained eye, it is extremely difficult to identify carpet fibres simply by looking at them. Given the advances made in the development of synthetic fibres it is becoming increasingly difficult to confidently identify the fibres that make up carpets; indeed, there is also an increasing trend for carpets made of mixed fibres.
The fibres in the carpet need to be accurately identified before any deep cleaning can take place. In order to do this, there are a range of tests that can be done, some simple, some involving the use of chemicals in the test. Let us look at some of these tests:
Generally, the main governing factor when cleaning carpets is whether they contain wool. Most carpets, approximately 97%, are made from synthetic fibres, but there is always a possibility that wool could be present in the mix of fibres used to construct the yarn of the carpet. A quick and proven way of checking whether or not wool is present in the yarn is by performing a “Burn Test”.
In order to carry out a Burn Test you will need the Following items:
• A small pair of nail scissors
• A pair of tweezers
• A cigarette lighter
The procedure is as follows:
1. Lift up or loosen a corner of the carpet or carpet tile.
2. Using the nail scissors, remove a small tuft of the yarn, taking care not to damage the surface of the carpet.
3. Hold the tuft in the tweezers away from you.
4. Using the cigarette lighter, carefully expose the tuft to the heat from the flame.
5. Carefully observe the reaction of the tuft to heat and let the residue cool.
There are two conclusions you can make:
1. If the fibres “shrink” away from the flame and form a hard, black ball, the carpet is made from synthetic fibres.
2. If the fibres produce a flame and leave a powdery residue, there are wool fibres present.
In addition to indicating whether or not wool is present, this test can also help you positively identify other fibres used in carpet construction. The following table summarises the results:
An Introduction to Carpet Care Part 2 will be available soon. If you want to keep up to date on what’s happening on this blog? You can subscribe, see the link to the left of the articles heading.
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