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Silk Interesting Facts



For silk glossary & definitions of terms, please visit Silk Information

Silk is commonly considered to be the queen of all fabrics; yet many enchanting and interesting facts about silk are absent from the silk information in possession of the ordinary user of silk fabric. Based upon the silk FAQs we encounter from our friends, we have chosen the following interesting silk facts to create a fun silk tutorial. Enjoy!

[For general silk information, please visit the All About Silk section, which covers various related subjects, such as Silk Benefits, Hand Washing Silk, Silk Info Dictionary, and History of Chinese Silk.]

  • Silk culture has been practiced for at least 5000 years in China
  • The Silkworm (Bombyx mori, Latin for “silkworm of the mulberry tree") is, technically, not a worm. It is the larva or caterpillar of a moth in the family Bombicidae
  • A silkworm's diet consists solely of mulberry leaves
  • The silkworm (Bombyx mori) is entirely dependent on humans for its reproduction and no longer occurs in the wild. It is native to northern China. Its nearest wild relative is Bombyx mandarina with which it is able to hybridize
  • The silkworm female deposits around 400 eggs at a time. In an area the size of your monitor screen, about 100 moths would deposit more than 40,000 eggs, each about the size of a pinhead
  • The female dies almost immediately after depositing the eggs; the male lives only a short time after. The adult does not eat during the short period of its mature existence
  • After growing to its maximum size at around 6 weeks, the larva is about 10,000 times heavier than when it hatched
  • One hectare of mulberry trees yields about eleven tons of leaves, producing around 450 pounds of cocoons, but just about 85 pounds of raw silk
  • The cocoon is made of a single continuous thread of raw silk around 1 kilometer (2/3 of a mile) long
  • About 2,000 to 3,000 cocoons are required to make a pound of silk. One pound of silk represents about 1,000 miles of filament
  • It takes silk from over 2,000 cocoons to produce a single kimono
  • The annual world production represents 70 billion miles of silk filament, a distance well over 300 round trips to the sun
  • Based on 1 kilometer (2/3 of mile) per cocoon, ten unraveled cocoons could theoretically extend vertically to the height of Mount Everest
  • The shimmering appearance for which silk is prized comes from the fiber’s triangular prism-like structure which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles
  • Silk fibers are very fine, about 10 nanometers (1/2500th of an inch) in diameter
  • Strong as steel in tensile strength, silk is the strongest natural fiber known to man
  • Silk is much lower in density compared to cotton, wool or nylon. It is, therefore, highly moisture absorbent, able to absorb as much as a third of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp
  • A highly versatile fabric, silk has proven to be ideal for a variety of uses – from formal wear to sleepwear, from parachutes to rugs, from medical sutures to prosthetic arteries
  • Silk has a miniscule percentage of the global textile fiber market – less than 0.2%. Yet the actual trading value of silk and silk products is in many billions of dollars since the unit price for raw silk is roughly twenty times that of raw cotton
  • Current world silk production is estimated to be around 125,000 metric tons. China produces about 80% of the world’s silk and India over 10%
  • Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan also have a significant production of raw silk and silk yarn. Brazil is the only non-Asian country that is a significant producer of raw silk or silk yarn
  • United States is the largest silk importer in the world

Acknowledgement: Facts about silk in this writing have been borrowed from various sources such as Wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Please visit All About SIlk for further information about silk