Carpet Flammability & The Benefits of Wool
Wool carpets have a long list of benefits, a lot of them stemming from its natural fibres. One of these is a natural resistance to flame. Carpets and other floor coverings made of synthetic fibres can encourage the spread of the fire, passing it quickly to furniture. Thankfully, fires are a terrible catastrophe and fortunately very rare occurrences. Wool carpets cannot stop fires from breaking out, but they can slow its spread significantly. The also produce a far lower level of smoke than other fibres.
Benefits of Wool
In the world of clothes, few question the advantages of wool. This natural fibre works like a spring and resists wrinkles. It can stretch by up to an additional one third of its dimensions and spring back to its original shape. Wool has very balanced thermal insulation characteristics. It is warm in winter yet cool in summer. Importantly, it resists bacteria yet absorbs harmful pollutants that are present in the air but does not re-emit them. When buying wool carpets, it’s important to remember that the wool will work in just this way when it is a floor covering. A natural wool carpet also absorbs pollutants from the air and resists bacteria, making it an ideal floor covering for occupants who may be asthmatic or allergic to dust and particulates.
A natural wool carpet is unique in its chemical structure, having a high nitrogen (approximately 14%) and moisture content. The benefits this structure provides include a high temperature for ignition, between 570 and 600 degrees C, and a high Limiting Oxygen Index of 25.2%. The latter measure indicates the percentage of oxygen needed for combustion to be sustained. The overall flammability index of wool is 38%, while the same index for polypropylene is 68%, for nylon it is 76% and for acrylic is 78%.
Fire Protection and Safety
Even when the carpet burns, it releases heat at a very low rate and, unlike synthetic fibres, does not stick or turn into molten globules as it burns. The burning carpet just forms an insulating char that protects other materials beneath, and it is also self-extinguishing. Many householders may be shocked at the cost when buying wool carpets. But this is a purchase that provides a lot of comfort – you can slide over a wool carpet but a synthetic fibre carpet will leave burns. It is also a smart investment, as these carpets will last for years. Vitally, it is a crucial home safety measure. In the event of a fire, occupants can crawl to safety on the wool carpet without any danger of inhaling smoke and so escape the building.