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Wool vs. Cotton vs. Linen [A Comparison]


So you know you prefer natural fibers and textiles made without plastics, but unsure about the differences between wool, cotton, and linen? We've laid out a comparison here:

 

Merino Wool
Cotton
Linen
Source Fleece of sheep, obtained by shearing Vegetable fiber; exterior seed hair of Gossypium species Bast (plant body) of flax; linum usitatissimum
Composition Keratin; fibers have a hollow core Cellulose Cellulose
In Use Since Wool - 10,000 BCE; Merino - 14th century 5000 BCE 28,000 BCE
Diameter 13 - 23 microns 11 - 22 microns 8 - 32 microns
Warmth Warm, but wicking allows for good temperature regulation Cool to wear Fresh and cool to wear
Absorbency Slow, can absorb 1/3 of its weight in water and not feel wet. Slow drying. Highly absorbent, slow drying. Highly absorbent, fast drying.
Known For Blankets, warmth, heirloom durability/resiliency Mid temperature apparel, bath towels. Very comfortable unless wet. Bed sheets, sauna robes, hot weather apparel. Stronger than cotton.
Damaged By Boiling water, bleach Bleach
Flame Exposure Will char, does not continue to burn after flame removed (self-extinguishing) Burns quickly, flame is easily extinguished Burns quickly, flame is easily extinguished

 

fire by a lake

In short, the biggest decision point between wool, cotton, and linen, usually comes down warmth needs. In hot temperatures, linen is best. Cotton and wool are good for mid-temperature. And wool is better for colder temperatures. 


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