Fire retardant products have transformed the way people live. From construction materials to clothing, furniture, furnishings, upholstery, and drapes, these materials help prevent the spread of fire, saving valuable human lives and property. Fire retardant material comes in many forms and materials, and it is important to understand the difference to evaluate their effectiveness and determine uses.
Read this article to find valuable insights into natural fire retardants and how they are used.
Natural fire retardants and their examples
Natural fire retardants refer to those materials that do not catch fire easily. These fire retardant materials prevent or inhibit the fire from spreading. Such materials prevent the spread of fire and, depending on their characteristics, do not melt or drip when close to the fire, and they also often have self-extinguishing properties. Their fire retardant property is due to the chemical makeup that enables them to resist fire and its impacts.
For instance, the use of cotton, horse hair, or sheep wool is common as filling for mattresses or bedding to prevent the flames from spreading in case a fire breaks out. This takes us back to the olden days when the use of natural materials was widespread and synthetic materials were rather unheard of. If the product is made from these materials, there would not be any need for chemicals in the presence of natural fire retardants.
The benefit of using natural fire retardants is they are naturally breathable. For instance, if we were to consider cushions or mattresses, natural fire retardants can help remove moisture and are also ideal for those allergic to dust.
Then we have inherently fire retardants designed to stop or prevent the fire from spreading. For instance, if we consider the construction industry, numerous fire retardant materials are used in buildings. A few examples include iron, concrete, brick, glass, treated lumber plywood, asbestos, perlite, mineral wood, sodium, calcium, and potassium silicate, etc. All these materials are used in the construction of buildings.
Fire retardant fabrics
When we consider FR fabrics, their classification depends on at what temperature the fabric burns and the time it takes to burn. This kind of fabric is used in carpets, upholstery, or protective clothing worn in various industries or facilities. Using these flame retardant fabrics adds an additional layer of protection to reduce the risk of injury and prevent the fire from spreading. Read this space to learn about natural fire retardant fabrics.
Natural fire retardant fabrics
Fabric can be classified as naturally fire retardant due to its inherent characteristics. This fabric has fire retardant properties intrinsic to it. It implies that no flame retardant properties are added to its fibers when it is engineered. A natural fire retardant fabric is hence resistant to ignition from the beginning and does not necessarily need to undergo any additional treatment.
There are certain natural fibers used in the textile sector that resist fire better than other materials. One such example is wool. It is regarded to have the strongest natural fire retardant properties. Wool is not only difficult to burn but may also extinguish the smaller flames on its own.
Another example is silk, which also burns slowly, is hard to ignite, and may exhibit self-extinguishing properties under some circumstances. Both wool and silk can resist fire longer than other fabrics like linen or cotton die to the natural structure of their fibers and are hence good choices for home textiles. However, compared to synthetic materials, natural fibers are more prone to burning, but manufacturing techniques can be employed to improve their fire retardant capability.
The natural fibers may be treated with chemical solutions to improve their fire resistance. The chemical treatment can be done via dipping or coating technique. Similarly, if a material made from natural fibers is manufactured with a tight weave, its fire resistance capability improves.
Synthetic fire retardant fabrics
There are a few synthetic fabrics that are considered fire retardant due to their ability to resist ignition at a temperature value much higher than at what natural fabrics may ignite. One such example is fire retardant polyester. Its fire resistance base level is quite high compared to other materials, and manufacturers using it for FR products usually conduct rigorous testing to verify the same.
Polyester is also easy to care for and is more durable than most materials, which is why its use across the fire retardant textile industry is so widespread. Besides polyester, other synthetic materials that are inherently fire retardant include nylon and acrylic.
If we were to compare the fire retardant properties of natural or synthetic fibers, it is easy to conclude which takes the lead as synthetic materials, including polyester, nylon, and acrylic, may ignite at a much higher temperature than natural fire retardant fibers. Like natural fabrics, synthetic fabrics can also be treated with chemical solutions to improve their ability to resist fire.