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Saturday, June 6, 2015
There are approximately 1,500 different types of bamboo growing around the world, but one type of bamboo is the type used in the creation of fabrics, including bed sheets. That is Moso bamboo. Moso bamboo grows to approximately 75 feet tall and is grown in temperate climates around the world, including the United States.
Many of us have wondered about this new widespread use of bamboo when we had heard that the Giant Pandas were threatened due to the decimation of their bamboo forest. Pandas do not eat Moso bamboo. They require a type of bamboo where the leaves are within five feet of the forest floor.
Moso bamboo takes about five years to start to grow and then grows quickly and is ready for harvesting in the five years after it starts to grow. The Moso bamboo puts out sprouts ever year. While these sprouts can ensure the permanence of the Moso bamboo forest, the bamboo shoots are a source of food for a number of the critters residing in the forest. Bamboo farmers need to work hard to protect these tiny shoots in order to ensure that Moso bamboo continues to be a viable source of bamboo.
Bamboo fabric is produced from the pulp of the leaves and the inner part of the trunk of the Moso bamboo. There are currently two processes used to pull the fiber from the bamboo plant. The first and most commonly used process includes cooking the bamboo in lye. The cellulose that remains in then put through bleaching processes that produce the fiber known as bamboo rayon. The second process is a mechanical one in which machines is utilized to break down the leaves and inner trunk. Natural enzymes are then used to further break down the pulp into a mush. It is then possible to extricate the rayon bamboo fibers that are used in weaving the products.
Bamboo bedding is being touted as an incredibly green product that is good for the environment. As with many things, the truth lies towards the middle. Bamboo has a natural resistance to microbes. What is not yet clear is how that resistance survives the process currently used to manufacture bamboo fabrics. Bamboo can be grown without the use of pesticides, but some places do use pesticides. Bamboo can be grown without the use of irrigation, and does use far less water than cotton. The lye process that is most commonly used is likely to pose health challenges to those individuals who work in the manufacture of the product. It is also true that this field is in its infancy and there are likely to be significant improvements to the production of bedding made from bamboo.
What is undisputed about bamboo bedding is that it is silky soft and drapes very comfortably over your body as you settle in for the night.
While bamboo is being marketed as a "green" luxury bedding, it is clear that there is some room for growth. While I personally have not experienced bamboo bedding one of nephews has and he will not part from it, or even share it for a night!