A sticker on the sock package touted the "Luxuriously soft bamboo" that "Keeps feet dry [and] reduces foot odor". The side of the label indicated in smaller print the socks were made with rayon from bamboo, polyester, spandex, and rubber. I thought rayon was for silky-looking Hawaiian shirts and dresses, not socks!
Bamboo is not a fiber, but the world's fastest growing grass. It grows without requiring chemicals or pesticides, and reaches maturity quickly. It can be harvested in about 4 years, and doesn't need to be replanted; it spreads by underground runners that send up new shoots.
Rayon is a fiber that is neither synthetic or natural. It is manufactured from naturally occurring cellulose that requires extensive processing to become rayon. Rayon can be made from any fiber that contains cellulose; bamboo is just one of them. The cellulose is extracted from the bamboo, then mixed with chemicals to convert the plant pulp into textile quality fiber.
Once the bamboo is harvested, there are two ways to process bamboo to make the plant into a fabric: mechanically (by crushing the woody parts of the bamboo plant, then using enzymes to break the bamboo walls so that the natural fibers can be mechanically combed out and spun into yarn) or chemically (by processing the bamboo leaves and shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide, otherwise known as lye, and carbon disulfide). Most bamboo is processed chemically because it is cheaper and less labor-intensive.
Advantages of bamboo clothing:
- It's easy to launder
- Bamboo is highly absorbent and wicks water away from the body faster than cotton.
- The structure of bamboo fibers make bamboo fabrics more breathable than other fabrics.
- Bamboo is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
- Bamboo clothing is 100% biodegradable--I'll keep this in mind when the socks are ready to be tossed-it can be in the compost pile!
I think I'll keep them.