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ALPACA VS. MERINO
What makes alpaca wool superior to Merino sheep's wool and why is Merino sheep's wool often coated with plastic?
The amazing benefits of alpacas come from their thousands of years of living in the rugged environment of the Andes Mountains. In this environment, the alpacas have naturally developed a fiber that can withstand drastic temperature changes, from the freezing temperatures of the night to the scorching sun of the day.
Fiber scales and chemical treatment
Almost all Merino sheep's wool is processed in order to remove the characteristic scales from the wool, which make the sheep's wool sting. The result of the treatment is a smoother coat, but at the same time the properties of the wool deteriorate. For example, wool's ability to repel and transfer moisture is significantly reduced or completely removed.
The so-called Superwash method has either one or two steps, depending on the method. In the first step, the fiber scales are smoothed using a chemical process. In the second step, the fiber is coated, often with plastic, so that it can be machine washed.
Responsible brands use sustainable methods, but according to research, up to 70-75%(1,2) of washable Merino wool products on the market are also covered with plastic to enhance production and soften the skin feel.
Alpaca wool is not chemically treated, as the fiber is naturally fine-scaled. When scales are not removed e.g. the wool's ability to repel and transfer moisture is preserved and it is possible to make knitwear even in demanding conditions.
Fiber air pockets
This is another major structural difference between Merino and Alpaca. Basically, all wools contain air, which creates the characteristic ability of wool to insulate heat. Both wools have this structure, but Alpaca wool contains significantly more of these air pockets and insulates its wearer better.
Although Merino's fiber is longer and thicker, wool is a less effective thermal insulator compared to alpacas(5). Depending on the source, the secretion capacity of alpaca wool compared to Merino is 20-400% (3,4). Airy fibers make the product lighter and enable a warm product with less material.
The differences in the thermal insulation of the wools are related to the differences in the internal structure of the fibers. Merino sheep's wool consists of one type of fiber that does not have a core, while only a small part of alpaca fibers are coreless(4). This core creates air spaces in the fiber and increases the heat insulation of the wool, making alpaca an effective heat insulator(5).
"Depending on the source, the insulating capacity of alpaca wool compared to Merino is 20-400%"
In the end, there are only a handful of Merino sheep wool brands that can really guarantee the product's quality and ethics. When you buy alpaca, you know that the quality of the materials is always top notch.
We create gear for this generation of hikers. Alpaca wool is a genuine high-performance fiber that has evolved naturally, shaped by its environment in the rugged mountains of the Andes. No chemicals, no plastic, no animal abuse - 100% alpaca wool.
Not many companies get startet from a Finnish adventurer in Peru choppin’ wood and almost cut out his finger and get back to Finland to his home country to get better. That is still where Wølmark Finland’s story began.
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Kiitos arvostelusta. Alpakanvilla on itsessään kutitusvapaa materiaali, mutta kerinnässä kuidun päät jäävät teräväksi ja tämä aiheuttaa sen pienen kutinan. Kuitenkin alpakanvilla pehmiää käytössä ja muutamankin käyttökerran jälkeen huomaa jo eron. :)