Cotton is one of the earliest known fibers to mankind. It has many beneficial properties, making it the most loved fiber for clothing. Clothing made from cotton fibers provides better moisture control. Cotton fabric is breathable and transmits moisture away from the body as it is absorbent and removes liquid from the skin. It keeps moisture from building up between your skin and clothing. It also has good insulation behavior, thus protecting the wearer from heat in the summer and cold in the winter. Thermal insulation results from air trapped between the fibers of cotton fiber in the fabric. Being natural, it does not cause any allergic reaction and is safe to wear next to the skin. Cotton clothing is durable to use and has a 30% higher wet strength. Based on the construction, it can have a soft feel and stretch making it a comfortable option for wearers. Cotton fiber’s chemistry is an added advantage to impart any function finish as per need. Such finish may include weather-proofing and flame retardant qualities.
When considering the sustainability aspects, it is important to understand that being a biodegradable fiber it will not remain in landfills for years to come and is thus a more sustainable fiber. Aspects of high-water consumption and use of chemicals for cotton cultivation are of the essence, but with improved agricultural practices and initiatives like organic cotton, this is being minimized and is always a better option against synthetic fibers.
When considering flame retardant products, cotton as an untreated fiber has both advantages and disadvantages. Cotton fiber burns readily, but at the same time, the burning behavior of cotton fiber involves char formation. Thus, unlike common synthetic fiber which melts and drips during burning, cotton fiber forms a protective char layer. To make cotton fabric flame retardant, a phosphorous-based chemical finish is used. So a cotton flame retardant fabric is a good option, considering the benefits it offers is one of the most economical options for personal protective clothing.
Some challenges which were present in early generation of cotton FR clothing were the durability of FR finish, shade matching and foul smell. But with continuous improvement in the FR treatment technology all the challenges have been overcome, making cotton FR clothing a leading choice in personal protection from heat and flame.