Many “Real Silk Tests” Are Wrong. Here Are 2 Simple Right Ones

Silk duvet covers or silk bed sheets are nothing cheap. Before placing an order of silk bedding, there is always a question:

How to tell if silk is real?

There are more than 344 million search results

Most people won’t check the posts after page 2. However, even in these top 20 (among 344,000,000), there are still lots of mistakes.

At Lessinly, we’ll explore the right ways to tell real silk by checking both the right and the wrong ones out.

Conclusions first:

  1. You can tell if silk is real by burning it.
  2. You can tell if silk is real by melting it in hypochlorous acid (HCIO).
  3. You can’t tell if silk is real by luster.
  4. You can’t tell if silk is real by rubbing it.
  5. You can’t tell if silk is real by the color fading in water. Real silk has color fading too, if not worse.
  6. You can’t tell if silk is real by something else.

Right test #1: burning

Fact: When real silk is burnt, it smells like burning hair.

Burn it! The burn test is the simplest way to determine if the silk is real or not. 

If the silk is real, you will:

  • See: the silk burns slowly. You will see very little fire when silk is burning.
  • Smell: the smell of burning silk is the same as burning hair.
  • Touch: rub the small dark beads with fingers. They can be crushed easily into powder.

In this video you will see how silk burns like,  starting from 1:05: 

It is a way to test if the fiber is protein or not. Besides mulberry silk, the commonest protein fibers are wild silk, wool, and cashmere. The fabrics made of these materials don’t look silky.

Although the burn test is simple and fast, nobody wants to cut their silk duvet cover or silk bed sheet. Lessinly provides a silk sample for the test: a small piece of the same fabric as the silk product. You can burn it, instead of cutting or taking a thread from your silk bedding.

Right test #2: HCIO disinfectant

Fact: silk is solvable in hypochlorous acid.

Hypochlorous acid (HClO), the most effective disinfectant in the chlorine family, occurs 11 times as active ingredients in the List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). It is 80x more effective than bleach and non-corrosive disinfectant. 

If you already have something against COVID-19, there may be HCIO contained.

Real silk is solvable in HCIO. The test takes 3 steps:

  1. Tale a cup of HCIO disinfectant, and a piece of silk cloth.
  2. Put the silk cloth into the disinfectant, and wait 3-5 minutes.
  3. 100% real silk will disappear in the cup. 

If there is still something left in the cup, add some more disinfectant in case the lack of solvent affects the process. If there are still fibers or pieces visible after 5 minutes, the sample doesn’t pass the test.

Again, you don’t have to snip your Lessinly silk bed sheet or duvet cover. Try with the Lessinly silk sample.

Wrong #1 You can determine real silk by its “luster”

Fact: No, you can’t. Even an experienced silk expert can be fooled by polyester.

A website said:

The color of real silk should continue to change as the angle of the light changes. Artificial silks on the other hand will give a white sheen regardless of the direction of the light.

Suppose it was right, try to tell the real silk from 1-5:

silks 1 - Lessinly
silks 2 - Lessinly
silks 3 - Lessinly
silks 4 5 - Lessinly

Answer: 1 is polyester. 2-5 are all real silks.

  • The luster of silk varies. There are at least 4 factors that may affect how silk will look like:
  • Fabric type. Image 3 is a silk habotai. It doesn’t even look glossy, yet it’s 100% genuine silk.
  • Lightening. Both real and fake silks have luster, so how light goes matters a lot.
  • Momme count. Image 4 is a 30 momme pillowcase, while image 5 is 19 momme.
  • Photoshop. Quite self-explanatory.

Wrong #2 Rubbing on real silk, your hand will feel warm.

Fact: Rubs on any fabric generates warmth. Rub itself generates warmth.

This mistake sounds very strange, but it is widely believed.

Here is the thinking:

  • “Warm” is a feeling. Rub speed varies too. Something not objective enough cannot be a standard.
  • If you rub your hands on cotton, nylon, canvas, viscose, or something else, you will probably feel warm too.
  • There is no technical evidence supports “rubs on silk will result in higher temperature”.
  • There are over 30 types of silk fabrics. If there were some warmth differences, it should have occurred among different silk types.

Wrong #3 “Real silk is free of chemicals with no color shading or fading”

Fact: there is nothing “free of chemicals”. The real silk fades even more.

In a video, the guy put some detergent into a glass of water, and then put a pink cloth of silk into it. After a while, the silk was taken out, the water stayed colorless, and the caption said: 

“Real silk is free of chemicals with no color shading or fading.”

3 mistakes.

  1. First, detergent is “chemical”. Once the silk was soaked into the water, it was full of chemicals already.
  2. Second, the silk cloth used was PINK.
  3. Third, despite the dye, the treatment of raw silk fiber requires chemical involvement too: finishing additives, degumming agents, etc.

In short, technically no silk bedding is chemical-free.

The reason why real silk has more color fading is the dye type for silk: acid dye.

Wikipedia of Acid dye says :

Acid dyes are anionic, soluble in water, and are essentially applied from the acidic bath. These dyes possess acidic groups, such as SO3H and COOH and are applied on wool, silk and nylon… Overall wash fastness is poor although lightfastness is quite good.

The color fading of silk depends largely on the color itself. Rule of thumb: the darker the color, the more obvious the fade. That’s why the smart YouTuber chose pink silk cloth.

Wrong #4 some other rumors about real silk test

Ring test

It is said that the real silk could pass easily through a small ring. this is where the deception lies.

The ring test is not originally for silk, but pashmina, the finest grade of cashmere fiber. It is proven invalid

Silk may be of many thicknesses and sizes. Maybe the 1.7 oz Chinese Han dynasty robe could pass the test, yet a thick silk bed sheet (like the 30 momme one) will probably not get through a ring.

In short, don’t try the ring test.

Price

Genuine silk is almost ten times costlier than the synthetic ones, yet it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be priced higher. 

Made in China=fake

China’s silk trade accounts for about 80% of the global silk market. The term “grade 6A” is based on GBT 15551-2016 Mulberry Silk Fabrics Standard and GBT 1797-2008 Raw Silk Quality Standard. More information about 6A silk is available at What Is 6A Grade Silk.

Silk develops fewer wrinkles

In general, common silk fabric types like charmeuse are easier to get wrinkled. If you see the image marked number 4 and 5 in section Wrong #1 You Can Determine Real Silk By Its “Luster”, you will find that wrinkles occur more on thinner silk than more intense one.

The reasons silk pillowcases, bed sheets and duvet covers can benefit your skin are not fewer wrinkles they develop, but the silk fiber is one of the smoothest natural fibers. You can find more images about the appearance of different silk momme counts at True Or False? 5 Myths Of Silk Benefits.