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What is Milk Silk Fabric? A Comprehensive Guide

Though milk is traditionally savored as a beverage, its magical transition into a soft and environmentally friendly fabric remains a lesser-known story. As awareness about sustainable living grows, so does the interest in eco-conscious textile choices. Milk silk fabric has emerged as a fabric of interest, gaining popularity in recent years. Join us to unravel the story behind this ‘delicious’ fabric.

What is Milk Silk Fabric?

Milk silk, also known as milk fiber or milk protein fiber fabric, is a fabric with unique production processes. By blending milk protein with specific chemicals, a spinning dope solution is created. Through wet spinning and other treatments, the solution is transformed into milk protein fibers. These fibers are spun into yarns, which can be further woven into fabrics.

Known for its softness and breathability, milk silk fabric offers a delicate feel and a natural luster. Its smooth texture makes it a delight to touch, while its skin-friendly nature ensures comfort with every wear. Notably, milk silk fabric is also prized for its eco-friendly qualities, making it a favored choice among environmentally-conscious consumers.

The History of Milk Silk Fabric

At the beginning of the 20th century, natural fabrics like wool and cotton dominated the textile industry. However, their labor-intensive production processes and high costs make it difficult to meet the increasing demands of many countries. Thus, they began exploring more affordable fiber alternatives to achieve self-reliance. This led to the emergence of well-known fabrics such as rayon fabric.

Then in 1935, Antonio Forretti of Italy introduced Lanital to the public. It is a revolutionary fiber crafted from milk protein. This innovative fabric gained widespread popularity upon its release and found widespread usage. However, the rise of petroleum-based manufactured fibers offered even greater productivity and cost efficiency. As a result, consumers turn to these affordable and durable alternatives over milk fibers.

How is Milk Silk Fabric Made?

In contrast to natural fabrics, the production of milk silk involves a more intricate process. Below, we will break down the traditional method step by step.

1. Prepare Raw Material

The primary raw material of milk fibers is milk, which can be sourced from either waste milk or regular milk. However, it’s essential to note that the milk must undergo several processing steps, such as skimming and dehydrating to remove fat and water. Finally, the milk is fermented, resulting in a substance that is similar to casein powder for fitness.

2. Extract Casein Protein

Extract casein protein from the resulting substance and grind it into a fine powder. This powdered milk is then dissolved and purified to remove any unwanted substances.

3. Make Spinning Dope Solution

Spinning dope solution is the final mixture used to produce fibers. To formulate this solution, casein protein is dissolved into an alkali solution such as sodium potassium hydroxide. Subsequently, the solution undergoes degassing steps to remove bubbles, as these bubbles may weaken the strength of the fibers.

4. First Bath: Coagulation Bath

A coagulation bath is a mixture of sulfuric acid and formaldehyde. To increase the viscosity of the bath and help the fiber to form, glucose is also added to the mixture. Then, the glutinous spinning dope solution will transform into long and fine strands as it passes through spinnerets into this coagulation bath.

5. Second Bath: Hardening Bath

After emerging from the coagulation bath, those long and fine strands are further solidified within an acid solution. Typically, this solution contains inexpensive formaldehyde. It can also be made of other aldehydes and acrylics.

6. Stretching and Finishing

As the wheel turns and the fibers undergo stretching, they become stronger and finer. These fine fibers are gathered onto a spool. Following a thorough rinsing to eliminate any residual chemicals, the fibers are then dried and twisted. 

7. Spinning and Weaving

Once spun into threads, the resulting milk fibers undergo a series of typical processes, including dyeing and other treatments. Following these treatments, the fibers are ready to be woven into various types of milk silk fabrics.

The Characteristics of Milk Silk Fabric

Texture and Comfort

Milk silk boasts an incredibly soft and delicate texture, which greatly mimics the luxurious feel of silk. Its cashmere-like touch is gentle on the skin, promoting long-lasting comfort for the wearer throughout the day.

Appearance

Milk silk boasts a smooth surface with a soft sheen and natural drape, offering a natural and comfortable feel. Unlike synthetic fabrics, it’s not overly shiny, providing an understated yet delicate appearance.

Breathability and Moisture-Wicking

Milk Silk is highly breathable, allowing your skin to breathe freely and preventing excessive sweating. Moreover, its great moisture-wicking capabilities efficiently absorb sweat, ensuring your skin remains dry and comfortable throughout the day.

Strength

Milk silk boasts greater strength compared to wool, cotton, and silk. It ranks second only to polyester and other high-strength fibers. Besides, The elongation of milk silk fiber is greater than that of cotton and close to that of wool.

Durability and Longevity

With its great strength and ability to resist moths and mildew, milk silk is more durable and washable than natural fibers such as cotton and silk. Besides, high-quality milk silk products maintain their vibrant appearance even after years of storage, ensuring longevity.

Health Benefits for Skin

  • Antibacterial 

Studies have demonstrated that milk silk possesses notable antibacterial properties, with an antibacterial rate of over 80%. This effectively suppresses harmful bacteria on your skin, as well as prevents clothing from becoming moldy. 

  • Nourishing

Additionally, the milk protein found in milk silk contains numerous skin-nourishing amino acids, which not only moisturize the skin but also provide protection, enhancing overall skin health.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of milk silk production varies based on the chemicals used in its production. Formaldehyde, commonly used in the traditional method, poses harm to the environment. In contrast, acrylonitrile used in modern production is less detrimental to the environment but the milk silk remains non-biodegradable. Consequently, milk silk produced through both methods is considered unsustainable. 

However, an Italian designer has revolutionized milk silk that is both biodegradable and recyclable. Its chemical-free production process not only mitigates environmental damage but also significantly reduces water consumption. 10,000 liters of water is needed to produce one kilogram of cotton, while it takes less than a liter of water to produce a kilogram of milk silk.

The Applications of Milk Silk Fabric

Milk silk, known for its natural antibacterial properties, is a versatile fabric suitable for various apparel and home textile applications.

  • Underwear/Pajamas: Its antibacterial feature makes it an excellent choice for crafting intimate apparel like underwear and pajamas, ensuring comfort and hygiene.
  • Casual Clothing: Milk silk’s breathability makes it an ideal choice for casual clothing such as short-sleeved shirts, providing comfort during daily wear. 
  • Home Textiles: Milk silk can be blended with other fibers to create breathable beddings that ensure a restful night’s sleep.

Tips for Care for Milk Silk Fabric

To ensure the longevity and quality of your milk silk fabric, it’s essential to follow the washing instructions provided on the care label. Here are some general tips for washing milk silk:

  1. Water temperature: Opt for cold or lukewarm water to wash your milk silk garments.
  2. Detergent: Use a silk-friendly detergent or mild shampoo, avoiding strong alkaline detergents.
  3. Machine wash: Select the delicate cycle on your washing machine, and if possible, place your milk silk items in a laundry bag for added protection.

FAQs

  • Is milk silk real silk?

No, milk silk is not real silk. Milk silk does not originate from silk fibers but is produced from milk casein protein. It offers a similar look to silk at a more budget-friendly price, making it an excellent alternative to real silk.

  • How to check if milk silk is real?

Many fake milk silk is mainly composed of polyester fibers. To check if your milk silk is real, you can conduct a burning test. When genuine milk silk is burned, it releases a smell of burning hair, while polyester fibers emit a harsh, plastic-like odor.

  • Is milk silk fabric stretchy?

Milk silk possesses a natural elasticity, allowing it to stretch to a certain extent. Its stretchiness increases when combined with synthetic fibers like spandex.

Conclusion

In summary, milk silk fabric offers a sustainable alternative to traditional textiles, with its unique blend of softness, durability, and breathability. Whether for clothing or home textiles, its versatility shines through. Visit Sinosilk for more information about fabrics and textiles, empowering yourself to make informed choices for a greener future.

More Resources

What is the Most Sustainable Fabric?

What is Bamboo Fabric?

What is Modal Fabric? 

What is Tencel Fabric?

What is Ice Silk?

What is Acrylic Fabric?

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