Rayon vs. Viscose: What’s The Difference?

There’s a good chance that while you were reading the bamboo sheet reviews, you were wondering what exactly is the difference between Rayon and Viscose. Products made with rayon fiber found ubiquitously everywhere, whether you know it or not. From clothing to sunglasses to surgical  products- they are everywhere!

So here’s the deal – both Rayon and cotton are made from cellulose but the cellulose used to make rayon often comes from trees such as bamboo and cotton comes from the cotton plant. Because of the process to regenerate the cellulose in rayon, it is often mistakenly thought to be a less of a natural fabric than cotton which couldn’t be any more incorrect. In fact, it is more eco-friendly than cotton since bamboo is easily grown without causing deforestation, and of it’s carbon storage potential.

In addition, rayon is known for its conforming ability, being highly absorbent to moisture and extremely easy to dye.

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How is Rayon Made?

Essentially rayon is made of regenerated cellulose (found in cell walls) in which a series of steps are followed to get the end result of rayon. The process begins will cellulose which is dissolved in caustic soda, then pressed and shredded to produce white crumbs. These white crumbs are then aged with exposure to oxygen. After they are mixed with CS2 (carbon disulfide). This then produces yellow crumbs which is dissolved to form viscose. The viscose is then put through a process of ripening, filtering, degrassing, extruding, and eventually cutting to produce rayon fibers.

Although a long process and slightly confusing for those who are not in the manufacturing industry, the process is what makes these products worth the money.

How is Viscose made?

Essentially the same way as Rayon is, as the process to make Rayon is the same as Viscose except with a couple extra steps. One important difference is that – viscose is made from wood pulp while Rayon is not necessarily.

So why are some products made from Viscose and others from Rayon?

The terms Rayon and Viscose are often treated interchangeably. The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) considers the terms to be the same as well.

In summary, there is little difference between Viscose and Rayon. Both rayon and viscose are manufactured in the same process but they differ in materials used. While rayon can be made with cellulose from a variety of plants, viscose is made from wood pulp.

  • Dave
  • January 27, 2017
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