Interesting Facts about Silk

Silk is the Queen of all fabrics, she is as old as time itself and we thought you would like to share in  some interesting and little known facts supplied and collated for your bemusement by Silk Wholesalers

  • Silk culture has been practiced for at least 5000 years in China
  • The Silkworm (Bombyx mori, Latin for “silkworm of the mulberry tree") is, technically, not a worm. It is the larva or caterpillar of a moth in the family Bombicidae
  • A silkworm's diet consists solely of mulberry leaves
  • The silkworm (Bombyx mori) is entirely dependent on humans for its reproduction and no longer occurs in the wild. It is native to northern China. Its nearest wild relative is Bombyx mandarina with which it is able to hybridize
  • The silkworm female deposits around 400 eggs at a time. In an area the size of your monitor screen, about 100 moths would deposit more than 40,000 eggs, each about the size of a pinhead
  • The female dies almost immediately after depositing the eggs; the male lives only a short time after. The adult does not eat during the short period of its mature existence
  • After growing to its maximum size at around 6 weeks, the larva is about 10,000 times heavier than when it hatched
  • One hectare of mulberry trees yields about eleven tons of leaves, producing around 450 pounds of cocoons, but just about 85 pounds of raw silk
  • The cocoon is made of a single continuous thread of raw silk around 1 kilometer (2/3 of a mile) long
  • About 2,000 to 3,000 cocoons are required to make a pound of silk. One pound of silk represents about 1,000 miles of filament
  • It takes silk from over 2,000 cocoons to produce a single kimono
  • The annual world production represents 70 billion miles of silk filament, a distance well over 300 round trips to the sun
  • Based on 1 kilometer (2/3 of mile) per cocoon, ten unraveled cocoons could theoretically extend vertically to the height of Mount Everest
  • The shimmering appearance for which silk is prized comes from the fiber’s triangular prism-like structure which allows silk cloth to refract incoming light at different angles
  • Silk fibers are very fine, about 10 nanometers (1/2500th of an inch) in diameter
  • Strong as steel in tensile strength, silk is the strongest natural fiber known to man
  • Silk is much lower in density compared to cotton, wool or nylon. It is, therefore, highly moisture absorbent, able to absorb as much as a third of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp
  • A highly versatile fabric, silk has proven to be ideal for a variety of uses – from formal wear to sleepwear, from parachutes to rugs, from medical sutures to prosthetic arteries
  • Silk has a miniscule percentage of the global textile fiber market – less than 0.2%. Yet the actual trading value of silk and silk products is in many billions of dollars since the unit price for raw silk is roughly twenty times that of raw cotton
  • Current world silk production is estimated to be around 125,000 metric tons. China produces about 80% of the world’s silk; and India over 10%
  • Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan also have a significant production of raw silk and silk yarn. Brazil is the only non-Asian country that is a significant producer of raw silk or silk yarn
  • United States is the largest silk importer in the world

Facts about silk in this writing have been borrowed from sources such as Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica.