Sunday, 31 January 2010

Weighting of Silk

Weighting of Silk

Silk is sold by weight. By means of weighting the manufacturer can increase the weight of silk by 3 to 4 times. The weighting substances in the silk includes tannins such as salts or iron, tin (mostly used), chromium, sodium, magnesium and barium. Also sugar (mostly used), glucose, gelatin, glycerin and paraffins are used.

How weighting is done

Silk has great absorptive power. It can take upto 50% of tannin. Once that is applied the tannin itself can attract salts of iron and tin by another 50% without any visible indication of being changed in character. For dark colored silks, iron salts are used, for light-colored silks, tin salts are used. 

For applying weighting, the silk is first degummed. During degumming process, silk loses approximately one-fifth of the weight. This is done prior to weaving. Then it is immersed in a solution of catechu or some other substance rich in tannin. Then it is tranferred from tannin vat to iron or tin baths. After this cloth is taken out and washed in pure water. 

Effects of Weighting

Weighting causes the fabric to lose its strength as soon as the weighting is applied. Heavily weighted silk must be made into garments as soon as it is made. Spots develop in the dyes. Saltswater, perspiration and tears cause spots to be formed which seems as if the silk is eaten by acids. Sunlight also attacks weighted silk and can cause silk to fall to pieces.

How to Detected Weighting in Silk :

Weighting of silk can usually be detected by the burning test. Separate threads from the warp and the weft are set on fire with a burning match. Pure silk burns very badly and stops burning as soon as the burning match has been removed. Practically no ash is formed (less than one per cent), and the end of the fiber left unburned takes the shape of a little bulb.

Weighted fibers, when burned, leave a considerable amount of ash, and the entire thread may keep its shape after being burned. When only the filling or the warp is weighted, applying the flame to a sample of the cloth seems to consume only one set of threads, the unweighted ones, the others keeping their form because of the heavy ash content.

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