Facts And Trivia About Silk

Do you know that the process of making silk was invented by the Chinese many thousands of years ago and that even though many other countries are now well known for their silk making abilities, it is still the Chinese who are the true masters of it and who produce about half the silk made in the entire world? It is true.

Here are some other fun and amazing facts about silk:

A silkworm multiplies it weight 10,000 times from time it is hatched until about 1 month later when it has enough energy stored to start spinning its cocoon.

The fluffy white cocoon spun by a silkworm is one long continuous silk filament that when unwound is usually between 600 and 900 meters long or as long as 1,600 yards. Thats pretty long.

Four to eight of the silk filaments are twisted together to obtain one strand of silk thread. No wonder silk is so expensive!

The finest silk comes from the silkworms produced by the Bombyx mori moth. The moth cannot fly nor can it see. Its only job is to lay eggs. One moth will lay approximately 500 eggs over a 4-6 day period. Soon after that the moth dies.

Those 500 eggs the Bombyx mori moth lays are very tiny, about as big as the point of a pin. They dont weigh much either, only about 5 grams or a little under 2 ounces.

The silkworms from the Bombyx mori moth, which produces the finest and purest silk, are fed a diet that consists only of chopped mulberry leaves. The silkworms are fed every half hour around the clock. No wonder they multiply their weight by 10,000 times in a month.

If you visited a silkworm producing facility and entered a room where the silkworms were being raised, it would sound like there was heavy rain falling on the roof. But it is really the sound of silkworms munching on those chopped mulberry leaves.

It takes around 30,000 silkworms to produce 12 pounds of raw silk.

The official term for silk production is “sericulture”.

Silk obtained from wild silkworms, although still good quality, is not of as high a quality as silkworms who are pampered and fed an exclusive diet of mulberry leaves. Wild silkworms have to eat whatever food is available so the filament thread they weave their cocoons of is not as white as the captive raised silkworms nor is it as smooth and round.

Sleeping on a silk pillowcase is said to cause a delay in a person getting wrinkles because of the essential amino acids in silk bedding.

The essential amino acids in silk bedding are why sleeping on silk is good for your hair. Does that mean if you sleep on silk bedding bad hair days will be a thing of the past?

Some experts say the best way to get dried blood out of silk is by using human saliva. The saliva breaks down the proteins in the blood thereby releasing them from the silk fabric.

Silk is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Its a naturally self adjusting fabric.

If you bleach a dark colored silk fabric such as a sheet that is burgundy it wont turn pink. It will turn yellow. Bleach destroys the silk fabric and turns it an ugly yellow color that I dont think any decorator will ever find trendy or fashionable.

Silk bedding is recommended for people who suffer from dust mite allergies. Silk is naturally hypoallergenic. The naturally occurring substance found in the cocoon the silkworm spins protects it from various natural threats is not harmed during the process of turning the filament into silk fabric. I dont know exactly what those defensive properties are but dust mites, mold, and fungus dont like it so they wont invade your sleeping area.

At one point in history, the Chinese authorities were so adamant about protecting their secret about silk that anyone giving the secrets away or smuggling out silkworms or their cocoons was punished by being put to death. That may be why the secret of silk is said to be the most zealously guarded secret in history.

Legend has it that the secret of silk escaped China when a Chinese princess smuggled cocoons out of the country with her when she married a foreign prince by hiding them in her elaborate hairdo.

Another legend says the secret of silk production left China via the walking staffs of two monks who hid silkworms in the hollow shafts of them because of a request to do so by Emperor Justinian.

The “burn test” will indicate whether not a piece of fabric is silk. Silk will curl away from the flame and leaves a brittle and crushable black bead after burning. It will almost always extinguish itself when the flame is removed from it.

Did you think silk was just a piece of fabric? Now you know it is a whole lot more. Silk and the process of making it is nothing short of amazing.