Everyone knows that there’s a substantial difference between synthetic and natural fibers, but did you know that there can be big differences between some synthetic fibers?
There are basically 3 types of fabric:
- Synthetic – polyester, nylon, neoprene, acrylic, spandex
- Natural – cotton, wool, coir, silk, hemp
- Semisynthetic derived from natural materials – Tencel, Modal, rayon
In decades past, there wasn’t much of a choice to be made between synthetic and natural fabrics; they were either blended together to serve specific purposes or you had to buy one or the other. Today, semisynthetics are a good middle ground material, because they have some of the properties of both synthetic and natural materials without having to blend both types of fabrics together.
What Is Tencel Fabric?
Tencel is actually a brand name for a fabric that is called lyocell, which is produced from eucalyptus trees. Other companies may make lyocell, but only that which is made by Lenzing AG company can be legally called Tencel. It is a sustainable fabric which is produced from wood cellulose. It’s similar to fabrics such as bamboo and rayon.
Tencel also contains an Oeko-Tex 100 certification, which proves that the fabric contains no harmful substances.
Characteristics of Tencel Sheets
- Hydrophilic – absorbs water, but surface stays dry
What is Polyester Fabric?
Polyester is one of the original synthetic fabrics and was invented by two British chemists, John Rex Whinfield and James Tennant Dickson back in 1941. It was originally advertised as “a miracle fiber that can be worn for 68 days straight without ironing and still look presentable”.
It’s produced by mixing ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid. It boils down to this: polyester is, for all intents and purposes, a fabric which is made of plastic fibers. This, of course, means that it’s not a very environmentally friendly product.
The microfiber sheets that are all the rage today are usually made of polyesters or polyamides and the primary benefit that you will get out of these is that they are extremely cheap compared to other types of sheets that you can purchase. You can find a decent set here.
Characteristics of Polyester Sheets
- Resistant to many chemicals
- Retains shape easily
- Quick drying
- Resistant to shrinking
- Resistant to wrinkling
Should I Buy Tencel or Polyester Sheets?
We have to vote for Tencel sheets here like these, hands down. While polyester may be cheap, durable, and wrinkle resistant, it doesn’t absorb moisture well or breathe well, so these are particularly bad sheets if you’re a hot sleeper. Tencel sheets would be a better choice for that purpose. If you’re a cold sleeper, polyester (in the form of microfiber) may be a decent option for you.