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  • Your Ultimate Guide to Wool Blankets

    10 min read

    Basotho wool blanket

    The Ultimate Guide to Wool Blankets

    Heat loss during sleep is a natural occurrence, and your wool blanket's excellent properties help regulate your body temperature, keeping you at an optimal and comfortable sleep temperature.

    The principal reason for purchasing a wool blanket is to use it as a covering for sleep, yet many people need to consider the properties of the bedding they are buying. Online research from reputable sites or candid conversations with family and friends who have wool blankets might lead you to take the wool plunge.

    Your main objective will undoubtedly be to create an aesthetically pleasing home and to invest in the ultimate sleep environment. 

    Wool blankets tick many boxes as they promote quality sleep by regulating your sleep temperature throughout the night. 

    However, other wool blanket characteristics support quality sleep too. Looking at all the benefits of wool, you will most definitely grow an increased appreciation for this miraculous natural fiber that has served humans exceptionally well for millennia.

    Let's cut through the fluff (no pun intended) and discuss the core features of wool and the benefits of investing in quality wool blankets.

    Dog sitting on wool blanket at the beach

    The source of wool Blankets

    The majority of wool comes from Merino sheep farmed in several regions of the globe, but the distinction between wool and hair is fuzzy. 

    Wool and animal hair with similar properties come from several different domesticated animals that offer a variety of textures, fiber thickness, weight, and longevity, to name a few. 

    Because the hair of these domesticated animals closely resembles wool, they are generally referred to and accepted as wool. Here is a rundown of what some consider to be wool:

    • Angora: Produced from Angora rabbits, the hair is fluffy and light and is often blended to make it stronger. It also has the best moisture-wicking of all hair and wool types, including other natural fibers.
    • Alpaca: This is a soft yet durable hair and is one of the more popular hair types.
    • Camel: Camel Hair is used mainly in clothing, upholstery, and carpets; camel hair is economical but is rarely used for sleep accessories like blankets.
    • Cashmere: Produced from cashmere goats, this hair is lightweight and incredibly soft.
    • Mohair: Produced from Angora goats, this hair has a distinct fizzy look as the topcoat hair often mixes with the undercoat. It is firmer, smoother, and more resilient than conventional wool.

    Authentic wool is derived from different breeds of sheep and at different ages, which include:

    • Lambswool: Called virgin wool as it is sheared from young sheep or lambs. The shearing process only happens once; after this, the young lamb matures before being sheared again.
    • Melton: warm and durable, this wool is produced from English sheep. The thickening the wool makes it perfect for blankets and waterproof coats. 
    • Merino: Produced from Merino sheep, this wool is a favorite choice for winter blankets and clothing.
    • Shetland: produced from sheep native to Shetland Island, Scotland, this wool is commonly used for knitting but rarely used for blankets.
    Brown Sheep source of wool

    Benefits of wool blankets

    Wool is widely popular and is a preferred fabric for sleep accessories. These include blankets, pillows, comforters or throws, mattress toppers, and protectors. 

    To fully comprehend why you should make wool your lifetime sleep partner, consider your sleep environment and its essential role in your physical and mental health and well-being. 

    Temperature Regulating that comes naturally : Wool blankets are renowned for their temperature-regulating properties. It provides an incredibly comfortable feel, keeping you cool during summertime and warm in winter. 

    A wool blanket is highly breathable and naturally regulates your sleep temperature. 

    Wool is a poor conductor of heat but an excellent insulator that mitigates heat build-up under the covers and insulates you from lower outside temperatures. 

    The natural humidity produced by your body is regulated through wool fibers. For those who suffer from night sweats, wool can absorb about 33% of its weight in moisture and will adsorb sweat, drawing it away from your body while you sleep.

    The thermo-regulating properties of wool keep you warm when you need it or cool when your body temperature rises too much, helping you achieve a comfortable sleeping temperature. 

    Other bedding accessories like wool-filled pillows fitted with cotton pillowcases and a wool mattress cover helps create the ultimate sleep environment.

    A women sitting on bed wearing wool blanket

    Fire Resistant  – Wool is naturally fire resistant and breathable, making it safe for use in mattresses. Its natural fire retardant properties make it an ideal material for bedding products.

    Wicking absorbs or drains moisture, which is what wool does. Wool repels moisture from the outside and absorbs it from the inside, which is the sweat and humidity from your body that is allowed to evaporate into the air.

    Wool is instantly warm in winter and cool in summer, making a wool blanket a year-round sleep accessory. Sleeping on a wool blanket is as effective as sleeping under it. 

    The microclimate that wool creates is dry, which makes it easy to regulate temperature. Humid conditions are contained by wool through both its repelling and absorption (adsorption) / evaporation properties.

    The hydrophobic or moisture-repelling exterior of wool fiber is coated with natural wax and consists of overlapping scales that serve as a moisture-repellent. 

    While the hydrophilic or moisture-loving interior of wool fibers absorbs moisture and, through millions of tiny pockets that manage both air and water, allows fibers to retain and slowly allow the moisture to evaporate into the air. 

    This unique property of wool ensures that the thermal efficiency of the dry microclimate it creates will not easily be compromised. 

    This moisture management system of wool prevents hot, humid conditions that are prone to housing dust mites, fungus spores, or any bacterial growth.

    Wool has a natural resistance to fire, which is one reason why hikers and outdoor adventures prefer wool blankets. If wool does catch alight for some reason, it will smolder and burn out without the flames spreading. 

    For wool to burn, it needs a lot of oxygen, and the oxygen content in the air we breathe is not enough to sustain burning wool.

    Air and rail travel is made safer using wool carpeting, and wool uniforms protect firefighters, whereas the military provides soldiers with wool blankets.

    Hypoallergenic, wool blankets also stops dust mites, mold and mildew from accumulating, making it a beneficial material for people with allergies or asthma. Wool is one of the most durable fibers known to man.

    Your wool blanket is breathable and naturally regulates temperature by purging moisture that creates a habitat that is not conducive to dust mites which can only thrive in damp, warm conditions. 

    Wool also prevents the growth of fungal spores that require a hot, moist habitat to thrive. 

    Fungal spores are a common cause of night-time allergies that bring on coughing, sneezing, eye irritations, itching, and a runny nose. 

    This is common in polyester, down, and feather bedding which traps heat and moisture to create the ideal breeding ground for both fungal spores and dust mites.

    Allergy to wool is a rare condition, and supposed wool allergies only involve itching, which is in some cases an allergic reaction to wool but rather a reaction to thick wool fibers rubbing against the skin, which causes itchiness. 

    The fact is, wool is not an allergen; in fact, wool 17.5 microns or less has proved helpful to eczema and dermatitis sufferers.

    Dust may settle on a wool blanket but will not stick to the blanket. By airing out the blanket, the wind will blow the dust-free. 

    The hypoallergenic and temperature-regulating qualities of wool promote better and longer deep sleep during the night.

    Breathable wool blanket

    Moisture wicking helps keep you comfortable and dry as your wool blanket is one of the best natural materials for moisture wicking.

    Quality sleep is achieved through the combination of these natural benefits and your wool blanket's ability to regulate temperature, absorb excess moisture, and provide a breathable environment. 

    The naturally occurring crimp in each fiber offers resilience, elasticity, and insulation that helps your body maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature throughout the night. 

    A study by the University of Sydney in association with The Woolmark Company found that wool sleep accessories contribute to a good night's sleep. 

    A person's sleep health is greatly improved by using wool bedding. The study findings also show:

    • Wool breathes better than synthetic bedding.
    • Increases the duration of REM or deep sleep.
    • Efficiently regulates body temperature and maintains a comfortable sleeping temperature for longer.

    One wool blanket will be fine for the summer months, while a second wool blanket can be added for the colder winter months. Wool being lightweight, will feel like something other than a weighted blanket. 

    A wool blanket will not weigh you down and restrict your sleep even if you use an extra wool blanket in winter. Wool does not store static electricity like many synthetic blankets, so there will be no surprise shocks.

    Other studies have shown that using wool bedding lowers your heart rate and reduces sleep disturbances. Wool provides and maintains sufficient warmth throughout the night, which promotes deep sleep. People suffering from arthritis, fibromyalgia, bedsores, and other aches and pains find relief using wool bedding. 

    An interesting sleep statistic is that the average person loses about a pint of water over an eight-hour sleep period. Wool effectively deals with this moisture loss to keep you dry while you sleep. People who suffer from night sweats will benefit significantly by switching to wool blankets and other wool sleep accessories.

    Interesting fact: One nation whose culture revolves around wool blankets is the Basotho nation of Lesotho, a small country landlocked by South Africa. 

    This mountainous kingdom goes through extreme weather conditions annually, and the Basotho people wear wool blankets as part of their traditional dress. No matter the ambient temperature, traditional Basotho people will be seen wearing their blankets.

    All wool blankets are organic 

    Organic – Wool is a completely organic product made from the fleece of sheep. It contains no synthetic materials or pesticides, and its production process doesn’t add

    Wool blanket care

    Wool is considered a self-cleaning material that only needs to be aired for a few hours every few days. 

    Because dust does not stick to wool, it will blow any dust particles off the blanket; however, it may sometimes become necessary to spot-clean or wash your wool bedding. Before shoving your wool blanket into the washing machine, here are some pointers.

    Contemporary wool blankets are easy to clean or wash and hand washed in cold water is recommended. Some wool blankets can be washed in a washing machine, but the instructions must state this and be closely followed.

    If you are using your washing machine, select the wool setting, which is a gentle wash. The water temperature should always be cold. Using a very mild detergent and a gentle natural softener is advisable. It's best to wind-dry your blanket outside.

    With hand washing, you also need to use cold water and gently wash your wool blanket using a minimum amount of detergent; only use a gentle natural fabric softener. Once done, do not wring your blanket out to drain the excess water. 

    Instead, fold the blanket into a manageable size and use dry towels to press the excess water out. 

    To dry the blanket, it's best to avoid direct sun. Spread the blanket horizontally over a mesh platform or hand it over two or three lines of your washing line. This should prevent the remaining water's weight from distorting your blanket's shape while it dries.

    These tips will help you keep your wool blankets clean and fresh:

    • Shake and ventilate in a cool breeze.
    • Spot clean using a spray bottle.
    • Use minimal pH-neutral detergent for the occasional wash.
    • Fold or roll your blanket to expel excess water.
    • Air dry only.

    If you use hot water, strong detergent, or wring your wool blanket to get rid of excess water and place it in direct sun to dry, you will be doing yourself a disservice. 

    Your wool blanket will shrink, stretch, and lose many of it's beautiful properties. If you follow the care instruction, your wool blanket will last you a lifetime.

    When purchasing wool bedding, always check the label to confirm the quality and washing recommendations.  

    Wool blankets vary in quality, and blended wool blankets may not offer the full benefits of a pure wool blanket. 

    Wool blankets and other wool bedding accessories are worth the investment because they last a lifetime and perhaps beyond.

    A man spreading wool blanket in the sunlight

    FAQ About wool blankets

    Does Merino wool generate heat?

    Yes. Merino wool is one of the rare fabrics that can generate heat while drying. Water is adsorbed when wool gets wet, meaning it gets trapped in its porous fibers.

    Inside the fibers, the hydrogen bonds in water break down, which creates a heat-generating chemical reaction. Interestingly, one kilogram of merino wool can produce as much heat over eight hours as an electric blanket.

    Can sheep overheat?

    Yes. Although wool regulates heat, it cannot change the climate. Factors that cause heat stress in sheep include:

    • Ambient temperature. If this is higher than the sheep's body temperature, the sheep cannot lose heat through convection cooling.
    • Relative humidity limits a sheep's ability to lose heat through evaporation by panting.
    • Solar radiation: Oftentimes, solar radiation exceeds the metabolic heat produced by sheep.
    • Wind speed: Convective heat loss is dramatically decreased in calm conditions, which gives rise to heat stress.
    • Night-time temperature: High night-time temperatures impede the loss of heat gained during the day.

    Is a thick fleece beneficial to sheep?

    Yes. A thick fleece is primarily immune to temperature changes due to its insulating properties.

    Research indicates that sheep with a one-inch fleece are more comfortable than sheep with less wool, as wool fibers dissipate heat more rapidly.

    A thick or growing fleece also helps to prevent sunburn and keep the sheep dry when it rains.

    What is the best quality wool for a wool blanket?

    Merino wool is the highest quality wool sourced from Merino sheep. These sheep produce finer wool than other breeds.

    Merino fibers are, on average, about one-third the diameter of human hair, and Superfine Merino wool can be even finer than cashmere. 

    How does wool resist odor?

    As wool wicks moisture (sweat) from the body, it inherently rejects bacteria, which causes odor. The hypoallergenic characteristic of wool prevents the creation of microclimates within your wool blanket where bacteria can thrive. Wool truly is a remarkable material!  

    What makes wool blankets flame resistant?

    Wool is naturally fire-resistant due to its high heat of combustion and lack of flammable gasses. When exposed to an open flame, wool chars before it catches fire, so its fibers don’t allow direct contact with the fuel source.

    This means that when the source of the flame is removed, the fire will extinguish itself. Wool blankets also have a naturally low static electricity rating which makes them difficult to ignite and safe to use around electronics. 

    What other unique characteristics does wool possess?

    Wool is naturally breathable and has great insulation properties that help you stay comfortable in any climate. It’s also water-resistant and can wick away moisture, making it ideal for outdoor activities.

    Wool is also highly durable and resistant to wear and tear, so your blanket will last for years! It's an incredibly versatile material that can be used in a variety of applications. 

    Wool blankets make great gifts as they are timeless pieces that anyone would appreciate.

    They are also great for home décor, providing warmth and texture to any room. 

    No matter what you're looking for, wool blankets are an excellent choice! Whether you need a cozy throw for the couch or an extra layer of insulation on your bed, wool will provide the perfect solution. So go ahead and try one today – you won't be disappointed. 

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