As the innermost or outermost layer of the silkmoth cocoon, raw silk contains many antimicrobial materials with which the caterpillar protects itself during pupation. The healing and anti-inflammatory properties of these antimicrobial materials is also effective on human skin.
Silk can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in fluid without feeling damp. With a density of 1.25g per cubic centimetre, silk belongs to the lightest of fibrous materials and can stretch up to 24%. With 12-15 microns, it is the finest natural fibre, but despite this is extremely tough and tear resistant.
Silk also feels pleasantly smooth and cool to wear. Breastpads containing raw silk cooling the mother's breasts which may become sore and even inflamed from feeding. Raw silk in the liner is always effective when baby's bottom becomes sore. Placed directly on baby's skin, the healing properties of raw silk work quickly and any redness is soon cleared up without any use of powder or cream.
Silk is very sensitive to high temperatures and will shrink if washed in too hot water.
It easily gets dirty, but with correct washing, the dirt is quickly released from the silk fibres. Silk articles must be treated with care.
Composition and Production
According to legal textile labelling, only fibres produced from the cocoons of silk-spinning insects may be labelled as silk. Silk has a less than 1% share of world fibre production.
In the production of mulberry silk only a certain middle section of the cocoon can be unreeled. The remaining part of the cocoon is used in the production of raw silk. Raw silk is produced by a coarse spinning process, it is less even and slightly knobbled. It is duller and more substantial than other types of silk.
Mulberry silk moths, which deliver silk for breeding - production play the most important part in silk production. So-called "wild silk" is produced from the cocoons of the Tussah moths. The caterpillar produces the silk threads with 4 glands situated in the lower jaw. Two glands produce the material of the silk thread - Fibroin (hornlike), two further glands, the silk bastfibre or silk glue Sericin. For the production of the thread , the cocoons are treated with steam, then soaked in hot water and brushed. The threads from 3 to 8 cocoons are unreeled together, giving about 300-800 metres of raw silk thread. 10 - 11 cocoons are required to produce 1kg of raw silk.
5000 years ago, the Chinese began to produce silk and they were able to keep the secret of its production for over 3000 years. Only about 300 B.C. did the Arabs, Persians and Indians encounter silk. In 552 A.D. silk reached Byzantium. Since 1510 the art of silkworm breeding and the production of silk has become established in the European silk centres of Como and Lyon.