Wool Facts

This document provides information about wool carpet flooring.

Pollution Facts

Gases produced by the burning of fossil fuels and by emissions from certain building components pollute the indoor air. Among these gases are nitrous oxides, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde.

Wool chemically reacts with these gases, neutralising and binding them irreversibly in its structure. Scientific studies have shown that by absorbing these gases, wool fiber purifies the indoor air, improving the health and well being of building occupants.

Polyamide fibers have a much more limited ability to absorb these gases, a much slower rate of absorption, and are less able to reduce the final concentrations to the very low levels achieved by wool. With wool carpet you can breathe easier -- even underfloor central heating does not cause significant quantities of the gases to be re-emitted into the atmosphere!

Pollution Culprits

Many materials used to furnish or decorate the inside of buildings emit small amounts of volatile products. Volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from carpets are only a fraction of those emitted by other materials used in buildings.

Relative emissions are (with paints rated 100):

Paints 100.0
Adhesives 72.5
Wallcoverings 8.3
Plywood 1.0
Carpet 0.5

Carpet emissions are due to:
  • "New carpet" odour is caused by minute quantities of the latex used in the backing, 4-PCH, which is not harmful and will dissipate with good ventilation within days.
  • Wool carpets soil less rapidly than synthetic fiber; the reduced use of cleaning chemicals contribute to the environment ... and your indoor air quality!
  • Moth-resist agents used on wool carpets are applied using low (or zero) effluent techniques and are totally safe to humans or pets.
  • Chemicals such as formaldehyde or pentachlorophenol are long absent from wool carpets (but may still be present in some other household products).
  • Sick Building Syndrome is not related to the type of pile fiber used in carpets.
  • Carpets are not implicated in Legionnaire's Disease.
  • Kawasaki Syndrome is not associated with the use or cleaning of wool carpets.

Tropical Climate Facts

The major problems for carpets in tropical climates are high temperature and high humidity. But wool carpets are not affected by these conditions -- in fact they thrive in the tropics!

Wool fiber can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture vapour without feeling damp. So at times of high humidity, wool absorbs moisture and then releases this moisture again when the atmosphere is dry, acting as an atmospheric buffer.

And wool carpets do not suffer from the moisture they absorb. With cotton, jute, linen and starch, excessive amounts of moisture may cause mildew growth unless treated with mildew resist agents.

Believe it...or not!

In tropical climates, walking barefoot on wool carpet feels cooler, less sticky and more comfortable than synthetic fiber carpets. This is no illusion -- when wool releases moisture it feels (and is) cooler.

RH% Temperature C/F
  5/41 10/50 15/59 20/68 25/77 30/85 35/95 40/104
20 8.2 7.9 7.5 7.2 6.9 6.6 6.4 6.1
40 12.1 11.7 11.3 10.9 10.5 10.1 9.7 9.4
60 16.0 15.6 15.2 14.8 14.3 13.9 13.5 13.1
80 21.0 20.5 20.0 19.4 18.9 18.3 17.7 17.1
95 28.0 27.7 27.3 26.9 26.5 26.0 25.5 25.0

Fire Facts

A dropped cigarette. A tipped candle. A stray ember from the fireplace. Accidents happen. But better fiber means better carpet. And if it's wool, it's fire safe! What does that mean? Less chance of ignition, less likelihood of spreading, less smoke. So "fire safe" means peace of mind!

Wool's fire safe qualities include:
  • Naturally flame retardant
  • Difficult to ignite, due to a higher ignition temperature
  • Low flame-spread
  • Low heat release properties and low heat of combustion
  • Does not melt (or drip if used vertically)
  • Forms an insulating, cool char and self-extinguishes
  • Contributes less to smoke or toxic gas formation (compared to synthetic carpet pile fibers)

Consider This!

Because of its natural fire safe characteristics, wool carpet is specified for installations with the most stringent flammability regulation, such as passenger aircraft.

Energy Facts

Wool production compares favourably with the manufacture of man-made fibers in regard to energy consumption, as expressed in tonnes oil equivalent per tonnes fiber produced. In fact, wool only uses between one-third and one-sixth of the energy required to produce polypropylene or nylon fibers. And there's more good news - wool's superior heat insulating properties save on heating costs.

Energy consumption per kg of fiber (MJ/kg) based on a life cycle analysis of carpeting by Utrecht University in the Netherlands is as follows: