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Why is silk smooth and shiny?

Why is silk smooth and shiny?

Silk is prized for its shimmering appearance and exquisite smooth touch, like no other fabrics can match. It has become one of the most luxurious and sought-after fabrics as a symbol of elegance and style over thousands of years. To understand where silk gets its lustre and softness, let’s take a look inside.

Why is silk smooth?

Silk is a protein fibre obtained from silkworm cocoons, composed of 2 main proteins - fibroin and sericin. Fibroin is the main element in the core, making up 75% of the silk fibre. While sericin is a glue-like outer covering that holds fibres together. Sericin is rough and fibroin is smooth. During the process of degumming, sericin will be removed from the silk so that fibroin can expose, providing a smooth surface and a soft hand feel. If not fully degummed, silk is likely to present with a grainy texture, such as silk chiffon.

Another factor that contributes to silk’s smoothness is its length. If you look at your cotton T-shirt, you may see that it is slightly fuzzy. This is because cotton thread woven for clothes is spun from many short fibres. Each cotton fibre is not long enough, so many of them are twisted together in order to make a long piece of yarn. What about silk? If you think silk fibre is just as long as the size of a cocoon, big or small, you are not alone. The fact is one whole cocoon is one long continuous strand of silk, which can be up to 1000 metres long! Because of this, silk fibres are able to be woven into a much smoother fabric without any fuzzy feel. 

Why is silk shiny?

To put it simply, the credit goes to fibroin, again. Fibroin has a very special triangular arrangement stacked by fibroin molecules. This triangular structure acts like a prism that when light hits on the silk fibre, it reflects the light in many different directions, giving silk a natural sheen as a result.

Silk fibre under microscope 

With the above said, fibroin (depending on the extent of the degumming process) and fibre length are the main factors responsible for silk’s lustre and smooth surface. Adora Silk prides itself on superior craftsmanship using only the best quality (6A grade finest silk fibre) mulberry silk to provide ultimately luxurious silk products for you to indulge in!



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