JUST WHAT IS EGYPTIAN COTTON?
For the best, most in-depth Egyptian Cotton Bedding and Sheets and Duvet Sets information available, view TRUTH ABOUT THREAD COUNT: EGYPTIAN COTTON SHEETS, DUVET COVERS & BED SETS and CONFUSED ABOUT EGYPTIAN COTTON SHEETS SETS THREAD
EGYPTIAN COTTON: THE WORLD’S FINEST BEDDING AND LINENS. Egyptian Cotton is considered the most supreme type of Cotton produced in the world, grown along the banks of the Nile River in Egypt in fertile, rich soil. When expertly woven and of the highest grade and length, Egyptian Cotton Luxury Bedding including Sheets and Sheet Sets, Duvet Cover Sets, Bedskirts, Shams, Down Comforter Exteriors, Pillow exteriors, Mattress Pads and even Mattress exteriors rank amongst the best, silkiest, softest and most durable Bedding products available in all of the world. The Extra-Long Staple or length of good-quality, single-ply Egyptian Cotton fibers allow for more continuous fiber to available for use when creating Threads. Egyptian Cotton yarns used for Sheets, Duvet Covers and Luxury Bedding are smaller in diameter yet stronger than other Cottons. This smaller yarn diameter of Egyptian Cotton means that more threads per square inch can actually be woven into the space, creating an overall stronger fabric that is lightest in physical weight of any other Cotton. Excellent Egyptian Cotton Sheets and Duvet Sets will not only feel incredibly soft but will also feel light to the touch, remain light on the body and not weighed down or overly heavy. Excellent grade Egyptian Cotton fibers used in Sheets, Sheet Sets, Duvet Comforter Cover Sets and Luxury Bedding also tend to produce far less lint than other Cottons, drastically reducing natural pilling or what is known as ‘surface balling’ that can occur during repeated washings and care of Fine Linens.
All of these factors create what is the most well-known characteristic of Egyptian Cotton which is its incredible softness, stunning and beautiful sheen and soft, natural glow. Egyptian Cotton is also prized for other characteristics that are lesser-known however equally important in the creation of the finest Bed Linens, Sheets, Duvets adn Bedding. Egyptian Cotton is more durable and resistant to stress, or ‘wear and tear,’ than any other Cotton produced. It also has a much higher ability to absorb liquids than any other Cotton, meaning it can hold and retain dyes better than any other Fiber or Cotton, for a spectrum of colors that can’t be achieved by any other Cotton. And it’s an all-natural Fiber with absolute superior breathability, allowing the body to stay cooler and breathe naturally. An even lesser-known fact is that, because good Egyptian Cotton is hand-picked from organically-grown harvests, allergy sufferers can finally rest easy with this type of Cotton.
Excellent Egyptian Cotton is similar to the ‘Rolls Royce’ of Fibers. The best Bedding products, made of high-grade Egyptian Cotton, can literally last decades with proper care. It is extremely important to note that different grades, fiber lengths, ply, construction and weaving can dramatically affect the lifespan, softness and durability of Egyptian Cotton Bedding. Not all Egyptian Cotton Bedding is equal, and Bedding made of inferior, Multiple-Ply yarns, short yarns or with poor weaving methods or construction can actually break down faster than even standard Cotton Bedding. The differences between an excellent Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set and an inferior or poorly one is vast, with a majority of Sheets Sets and Egyptian Cotton Bedding available of poorer and poorer quality.
WHAT ABOUT PIMA COTTON? IS PIMA COTTON SIMILAR TO EGYPTIAN COTTON?
Pima Cotton was introduced while Cotton growers were trying to create a type of Cotton that could grow in the United States but have characteristics as close as possible to those of Egyptian Cotton. The goal was to create a Western equivalent of Egyptian Cotton. Pima was first grown in the U.S. in the early 1900’s, originally developed in the Southwestern United States and cultivated by the Pima Indians. It is a type of Cotton that has been crossed between varieties of Egyptian Cotton and Uplands Cotton. An Extra-Long Staple Fiber, Pima Cotton is longer in Fiber Length and more lustrous than other American Cotton types and ranks behind only Egyptian Cottons and Supima Cottons in quality and durability.
For approximately 50 years and beginning in the early 1900’s, high cost of production and a coarse feel meant the popularity of Pima Cotton remained relatively stagnant. The popularity of Pima Cotton took off in the 1950’s, when the USDA and Cotton breeders made a breakthrough in creating Fibers with increased silkiness, better Fiber Durability and high crop yields. Dubbed ‘Pima’ after the Pima Indians who were helping raise and cultivate crops in Arizona at the time, the new fiber was a hit. Prior to the 1950’s, cost of raising this type of Cotton was high, producing a Fiber that was medium to coarse in texture and feel. Arizona was the largest producer of Pima Cotton since its breakthrough until1989, when Cotton growers in California realized that growing conditions in the San Joaquin Valley might be well-suited for Pima production. Pima production in Arizona fell to only several thousand acres, California Pima Cotton production increased to nearly 700,000 bales per year. Also grown in both New Mexico and Texas, California is by far the largest producer.
The most popular type of Cotton for Luxury Bedding is Egyptian Cotton. While Pima is a very good Cotton, Egyptian Cotton is considered the most superior, softest and best type of Cotton available in the World. The best Luxury Sheets Sets, Duvet Cover Sets and Luxury Bedding are always made of Egyptian Cotton. While growers have done a good job of creating a fine cotton with wonderful characteristics with the creation of Pima Cotton, nothing outperforms the softness, silky nature, beautiful drape and sheen of excellent or high-grade Egyptian Cotton and the best weaving mills in the world will use nothing less.
SOME COMMON MYTHS ABOUT EGYPTIAN COTTON:
EGYPTIAN COTTON MYTH #1: ALL EGYPTIAN COTTON IS THE SAME
Egyptian Cotton is not the same and can vary drastically depending upon Fiber Length, Grade, and how it is collected and woven. Because of high demand by consumers for Bedding products Made of Egyptian Cotton, many manufacturers utilize short, inferior Fiber lengths and low grades of Egyptian Cotton. There has also been a widespread trend of manufacturers essentially falsifying Thread Counts by up to four times the actual Thread Count through using what are known as Multiple-Ply fibers, or two fibers twisted together to create a longer Fiber. Weaving methods also vary widely from country to country, mill to mill.
EGYPTIAN COTTON MYTH #2: EGYPTIAN COTTON BEDDING MADE IN EGYPT IS BEST
Egypt is the source of the best Fibers, not of the best Bedding products. There is a huge difference between the source of the best fibers, and the locale of the finest weaving methods. Once harvested, Egyptian Cotton Fibers are transported to the final weaving and construction locale. While a number of countries offer good or even excellent weaving methods, the best weaving methods are known to be in the country of Italy. Germany and France also offer good to excellent Cotton weaving methods however Italian Fine Linens are known to be unsurpassed in terms of method, tightness of weave, stitch, construction, resulting softness, sheen, longevity and durability. Those countries which tend to focus more on mass and output for weaving of Cottons, versus extreme attention to detail and high-end quality, include China, Egypt, India and Portugal.
EGYPTIAN COTTON MYTH #3: THE HIGHER THE THREAD COUNT, THE BETTER
Thread Count is only one factor in determining quality of the best Sheets and Bedding, however this can be confusing as we’ve all heard so much about Thread Count, Thread Count, Thread Count. This is a hard concept for many of us to really interpret, since we’ve been bombarded with the concept that Thread Count is the end-all and be-all. In reality, Thread Count is one of the final factors for consideration when purchasing a new Sheet Set. At the top of importance are actually the grade of Fiber, Fiber Length, Ply, country where the Bedding is manufactured, weaving and construction methods and reputation of the company itself.
EGYPTIAN COTTON MYTH #4: THREAD COUNT LISTED ON THE PACKAGE IS ACCURATE
Many times, nothing could be further from the truth. In recent years, many manufacturers have been twisting together fibers to create a ‘longer’ yarn, yet counting the twisted fibers as individual Threads. The result has been essentially a falsifying misrepresentation of True Thread Count, which has been based on only the final fiber being counted as one Thread and not twisted fibers being calculated into the equation. This method of calculation has prompted an outcry from confused and angered consumers, statements from the FTC and investigations from organizations utilizing professional labs such as Consumer Reports. Sheets Sets and Duvets made of Multiple-Ply yarns can dramatically skew and falsely inflate actual Thread Count per square inch by up to four times or more the True Thread Count. For instance, it’s not uncommon for findings such as an Egyptian Cotton Sheet Set listed as 1200TC Thread Count on the package to test at only 297 Threads per Square Inch.
The Danger of Chemicals in Fabric (Non- Iron)
The Clothes that Kill You Slowly but Surely
If you’re like most people I bet you never give a thought to whether your clothes are toxic… even if you take care to eat organic foods and use organic cleansers in your home. Keep reading and you may change your mind. . .
I’m mindful of the problem because (cancer concerns aside) I’m sensitive to a wide range of chemicals — including those found in some types of cloth. A few years ago I bought a beautiful set of sheets from a fancy store. The label said they were100 percent cotton, but after sleeping in them a few nights I was in bone and muscle pain from head to toe. Repeated washings didn’t get out whatever the offending substance was.
I got a terrible reaction from the dyes or maybe the chemicals used to make those all-cotton sheets “no-iron”. You can only imagine what true synthetic cloth can do to us. It’s largely a product of the oil industry.
The Toxins Lurking in Your Clothing…
We have the illusion that clothes made from synthetic fibers are safe, but the materials are in fact full of invisible chemicals the clothing industry prefers we don’t think about.
A hundred years ago, clothing was made of natural fibers like cotton, flax, wool, and silk. In the early 1900s synthetics were developed.
Although rayon was introduced in 1924, the first truly synthetic fiber was nylon, made by DuPont from the petro-molecule toluene. Nylon because a popular material for women’s panty hose.
Other synthetics followed:
- · Acrylic (1950), aka, “wash-and-wear” fabrics — a “revolutionary time-saving leap” for homemakers.
- · Polyester (1953), “wrinkle free” fabrics developed from xylene and ethylene.
- · Spandex and olefin (1959), which became the mainstay of sportswear, swim suits, and thermal underwear. Olefin is produced by “cracking” petroleum molecules into propylene and ethylene gases.
- Today’s clothing (a $7 trillion/year industry) is manufactured using an astounding 8,000 synthetic chemicals.
Nowadays, clothes also contain toxins like formaldehyde, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated chemicals (Teflon) to provide “non-iron” and “non-wrinkle” qualities. Insecticides are even applied in the name of good health!
For half a century, skin and chemicals have been interacting… creating problems like infertility, respiratory diseases, contact dermatitis, and cancer.
The more synthetic clothing you wear, the greater your risk of absorbing toxic chemicals that harm your health.
The Problems with Synthetics…
When toxins are absorbed through your skin — your largest organ — they bypass your liver, the organ responsible for removing toxins.
You also may not realize that your skin keeps you healthy by venting toxins… up to a pound per day.
Petrochemical fibers restrict and suffocate your skin — shutting down toxic release. Meanwhile, they contribute to your total toxic burden and may become the “tipping point” for triggering the onset of disease.
Two contributing factors are (1) toxic buildup in your body and (2) multiple chemicals that interact together to create even worse problems than the individual chemicals by themselves.
Skin rashes, nausea, fatigue, burning, itching, headaches, and difficulty breathing are all associated with chemical sensitivity. If you have mysterious health symptoms that you can’t seem to get control over, it’s worth checking out whether your clothes could be the problem.
The Chemicals You Wear Every Day…
With a “mere” 8,000 chemicals used in clothing manufacture, it’s a sure bet you’re wearing many as you read this. Let’s highlight some of the worst.
These kinds of fabric finishes “scream” chemicals…
- Easy Care — Wrinkle free, shrinkage free garments release formaldehyde.
- Water Repellent — Fluoropolymers (as in Teflon) are used to repel oil and water
- Flame Retardants
- Bacterial and fungicidal chemicals — Triclosan and nano-particles are used for this.
- Formaldehyde is linked to a 30% increase in lung cancer, plus skin/lung irritation and contact dermatitis. It is found in fabrics claiming to be:
- Anti-cling, anti-static, anti-shrink
- Moth-proof and mildew resistant
- Chorine resistant
- It’s also used in dyes and printing to fix the design and prevent “running”.
Most governments restrict formaldehyde levels in clothing… but not the U.S. One of the worst offenders is China. Beware of “Made in China” labels.
Use of formaldehyde in clothing is extremely widespread. There have even been lawsuits alleging high levels of it in Victoria’s Secret bras.
High temps and humidity make “poison clothes” even worse — they open your pores and increase chemical absorption.
And you absorb formaldehyde from multiple sources daily, so don’t be fooled by manufacturers’ reassurances.
Disperse Blue Dyes may look gorgeous — even regal — but they put you at high risk for contact dermatitis… especially dark blue, brown, and black synthetic clothing. It’s important to note — laundering does not reverse that risk.
Worse… Disperse Blue 1 is classified as a human carcinogen due to high malignant tumor levels in lab animals.
Incidentally, you might be interested to know that this dye also shows up in cosmetics and semi-permanent hair dyes.
Fire and burn hazards: The Marine Corps now prohibits troops in Iraq from wearing synthetic clothing while off base… after too many unfortunate burns from soldiers wearing polyester, acrylic, and nylon — which readily melts in high heat and fuses to the skin. (Dudes, what did you expect? The stuff is a first cousin to plastic. Both are products of the oil industry.)
Of course, that begs the question of whether flame retardants are safer…
Flame Retardant use began in 1971, when government required children’s sleepwear to be self-extinguishing. The solution was to add brominated Tris.
Studies measuring urine samples showed that this chemical is readily absorbed.
Brominated Tris is a mutagen, and causes cancer and sterility in animals. (Mutagens cause inheritable mutations by damaging DNA.) They also cause testicular atrophy and sterility.
Tris was banned in children’s clothing in 1977 (but lives on in upholstered furniture foam, baby carriers, and bassinets). Today most synthetic fabrics contain a new generation of flame retardants bonded into the fabric, which must survive 50+ washings.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Burn Center, only 36 children a year suffer serious injuries from sleepwear catching fire. My heart goes out to these tragic victims and their families. But is the toxic contamination of millions of children worth protecting 36 children per year from burns?
This sort of regulation is a product of the “precautionary principle” — the notion that there should be no limit to the amount of money spent or the amount of inconvenience inflicted on millions of people when it comes to preventing rare dangers that affect a tiny number of people. The mania for making our society risk-proof and accident-proof actually increases danger in many cases.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission exempts certain sleepwear from flammability standards. Two companies selling kids’ sleepwear without flame retardants are L.L. Bean and Lands’ End.
But it’s not just children’s sleepwear…
Demand is high for fire-retardant uniforms and civilian clothing.
Lab studies show that flame retardants (PBDEs) can cause a slew of health issues — thyroid problems, brain damage, ADHD symptoms, and fertility problems.
The insecticide permethrin is now in civilian outdoor wear and military uniforms even though no long-term studies have assessed its safety. We wrote about this dangerous chemical in Issue #89. You can see it at www.cancerdefeated.com/newsletters.
Silver nanoparticles in name-brand clothing create anti-odor, anti-wrinkle, and anti-stain clothes.
“Nano” means “really tiny”… super-microscopic.
Nano-particles in clothing can create easily absorbed toxins that, due to their miniscule size, are transported into all your organs, including your brain… consequences unknown.
Other scary toxins include sulfuric acid, urea resin, sulfonamides, halogens, and sodium hydroxide.
The Health Hazards of Built-Up Electrical Charges…
Electrostatic charges accumulate in synthetic clothing. There are stories of shocking mini-explosions from mixing layers of synthetic clothing with synthetic carpeting.
And get this: synthetic undergarments contribute to infertility in men.
A 24-month study of male dogs wearing either loose-fitting polyester underpants or loose-fitting cotton ones showed that wearing polyester created significant decreases in sperm count and degeneration of the testes. The animals wearing cotton suffered no side effects. (And, please, no letters to the editor about dogs wearing underwear. I agree, it sounds silly.)
Scientists think polyester traps body heat, encourages chemical absorption, and creates electrostatic build-up… which all affect sperm count.
Is Tight Fitting Clothing a Problem?
The short answer is “yes”.
We recently ran an article on the risks of wearing bras, especially tight ones (Issue #65).
Probably the most unsafe clothing item ever introduced in the name of fashion was the corset. It squeezed women’s bodies and crushed their internal organs to the point of broken ribs.
Today, some scientists believe restrictive bras suppress the lymphatic system — which flushes toxins from your breasts and lymph nodes and helps prevent breast cancer.
Anna Maria Clement and Brian R. Clement, co-authors of the book Killer Clothes, recommend limiting bra usage as much as possible.
Your shoes might also fit the category of tight clothing. A 2009 survey of 2,000 people found that 40% of women buy and wear uncomfortable shoes to make a fashion statement. By contrast, just 17% of men did likewise.
Synthetics Hurt Athletic Outcomes…
Despite the wide appeal of synthetic athletic apparel, medical studies show that synthetic fibers cause muscle fatigue — which can mean the difference between winning and losing for competitive athletes.
In a study of 24— to 27-year-old men, natural linen long sleeved shirts were worn for five hours — and then polyester ones were worn for another five hours. Their arms were monitored during both, with electrodes measuring skin temperature and velocity of the men’s muscle tissue.1
No changes were measured when they wore the linen. But when they donned polyester they endured a range of muscle disruptions…
The Bottom Line…
It’s important to realize that while individual chemicals might not endanger your health, the synergistic effect of multiple chemicals interacting can have unpredictable negative effects.
Natural and organic clothing is becoming more popular again. But it can still be a challenge to find it, and you may have to piece together items from multiple suppliers. Here’s empowerment for the process…
Priority #1 — Choose natural fibers.
- Cotton — preferably organic. It still remains the “king” of textiles. Organic accounts for less than 1% of worldwide production.
- Flax — one of nature’s strongest fibers.
- Hemp — grows without any need for fungicides, herbicides, or pesticides because it’s naturally insect-resistant. Its fibers are reported to be four times stronger than cotton. This is NOT the hemp known for its mind-altering properties!
- Silk — known as the “queen of fabrics”. Watch out for the use of synthetic dyes in silk.
- Wool — most of today’s wool is contaminated with chemicals, i.e., pesticides used to kill parasites. But organic wool is becoming more common.
- Other — alpaca, angora, camel, cashmere, mohair, ramie, aluyot.
- Incidentally, the Organic Trade Association estimates that one non-organic cotton T-shirt uses one-third pound of pesticides and fertilizers. Cotton production uses one-fourth of all the world’s fertilizers.2 It’s another good reason to choose organic cotton to add to the ones above.
Here are some sources to get you started in your search for healthier clothes.
- · Hempest.com
- · Patagonia (small line of organic clothing)
- · Ecowise.com
- · Fairindigo.com
- · Faeriesdance.com
- · Kasperorganics.com
- · Juteandjackfruit.com
- Start small… Choose organic for clothing closest to your skin most of the time — underwear, sleepwear, camisoles, and the like… and then build as you replace items in your closet. Move in a healthier direction with your clothing to drastically reduce your chemical load.