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Fire retardant fabrics have plenty of uses. They are known to be used in upholstery, curtains, soft furnishings, industrial worker uniforms, firefighter uniforms, etc. If you are interested in fire retardant fabrics, then this article is for you. Read on to learn more about fire retardant fabrics and what these can do for you and your needs. 

What is a Fire Retardant Fabric?

A fabric is considered a fire retardant type based on the length of time it needs to burn and at what specific temperature it does so. The different types of fabrics are tested in laboratories to know how long it takes to burn and at what temperatures with different types of methods. 

Fire retardant fabrics are fabrics that are slow to burn. They are different from fireproof fabrics and materials that never catch fire; they are only resistant to flames compared to other fabrics in the market. Fabrics can become fire retardant depending on their natural structure. For example, cotton is a type of fabric that easily catches fire, while wool, on the other hand, does not catch fire and resists flames. The tighter the fabric is, the more time it will need to burn or catch flames. 

Fabrics can be inherently fire retardant because of their fibers’ unique fire-retardant properties. An example of inherently fire retardant fabric is polyester; it is durable and easy to care for. Wool, on the other hand, may shrink after you wash it, so this can be a problem for your soft furnishings, curtains, carpets, etc. 

Most fabrics in the market are immersed with fire-retardant chemicals to help them withstand fire by preventing them from catching fire and put out the fire. Fire retardant fabrics have inherent fire retardant properties which are ingrained in the microscopic composition of their fiber, so they will never decline. An example of a fabric that is naturally fire retardant is polyester. It has a high base level of fire resistance. It looks and feels like natural fabrics and they undergo thorough testing to ensure their safety standards. 

What Fabrics Are Inherently Fire-Retardant?

  • Wool – considered as the most fire-retardant natural fiber, it does not easily ignite or catch fire and it is capable of putting out smaller flames on its own. It has a slow-burning rate.
  • Silk – this fabric burns extremely slow. It does not easily ignite or catch flames and can be capable of extinguishing small flames on its own, depending on the situation.
  • Acrylic – it is a fire retardant fabric and does not easily ignite. It requires a higher temperature and longer time of exposure to catch fire compared to other natural fibers, but once it catches fire it may burn vigorously and will melt and drip.
  • Nylon – Slow to ignite, however, when ignited, severe melting can occur.
  • Polyester – A naturally fire retardant fabric, it resists ignition. However, once ignited, the fabric will melt but this occurs in high temperatures.

What Are the Different Ways to Make a Fabric Fire-Retardant? 

There are different ways fabrics can become fire retardant. Check out the two treatments below that can be applied to fabrics that will make them become fire retardant.

  • Coating – This type of technique is performed when a coating is applied to fabrics. This makes the fabric stiff and is often used for upholstery such as seats, paddings, springs, webbing, covers, etc. This technique is not applicable for fabrics that will be used as curtains.
  • Dipping – This type of technique is also known as chemical dipping. It is usually done for fabrics that are manufactured from natural fibers or made with a high amount of natural fibers. This technique is done by dipping the fabric in a chemical solution.

    The fibers on the said fabric will absorb the chemical solution, thus, creating a protective barrier that will protect the fabric against fire. When the said fabric catches fire, the chemical solution coating it will be activated by the extreme heat to produce a chemical reaction that will put out the flames. Its technique is the same as how fire extinguishers function.

What Are the Two Types of Fire Retardant Materials?

  • Inherently fire retardant fabric – This type of fabric is flame-resistant because of the chemical makeup of the fabric. They prevent and slow down the spread of the flames. They do not melt or drip when they are exposed to flames and most of the time they are self-extinguishing. These kinds of fabric are not fully fireproof, but if they catch fire, they will burn at a much slower rate compared to other fabrics. Overall, they will remain fire retardant, especially if treated with the proper care even when exposed to frequent washing, normal usage, wear and tear, or after a long time of use. 
  • Chemically treated fire retardant fabric – This type of fabric started out as a flammable type of fabric, but when treated with a chemical solution, they become fire retardant fabrics. They are slow to catch fire, and when exposed to flames, they can be self-extinguishing or can put out the fire without any assistance from anyone. This type of fabric can be washed, but can become less fire retardant after some time. You must properly care for it to prolong its use. 

What Are the Advantages of Using Inherent Fire-Retardant Fabrics?

  • Protection against extreme heat
  • Long term use
  • Fire retardant properties will never fade out
  • Lightweight

What Are the Disadvantages of Inherent Fire-Retardant Fabric?

  • More expensive than its counterparts
  • Less comfortable than the other treated fabrics in the market
  • Some companies market their fabrics as fire-retardant, but they are not “truly” inherent fire retardant fabrics

What Are the Advantages of Chemically-Treated Fire-Retardant Fabrics?

  • Cost-effective when compared to inherent fire retardant fabrics
  • More comfortable to wear, not stiff
  • Does not combust when exposed to fire, will char just like inherent fire retardant fabrics
  • Can self-extinguish the flames when the heat source causing it is removed 
  • After leaving the fire source, it will stop burning
  • Can reduce the impact of the flames
  • Works like a fire extinguisher

What Are the Disadvantages of Chemically-Treated Fabrics? 

  • After a while, some chemically treated fabrics will lose their fire retardant properties
  • Most fabrics produce dangerous gases when exposed to high temperatures
  • Cotton blend fabrics lose their fire-retardant properties after a while, even with proper washing and care
  • There is no way to check if the flame retardant properties of the fabric have been reduced just by basing off visual assessment
  • Needs special attention during the cleaning process to conserve its fire-retardant properties and protective efficiency for as long as possible. 

Applications of Fire-Retardant Fabrics

Inherent fire retardant fabrics and chemically treated fabrics are used in different types of applications. Most of the time, they are used in different places such as schools, theaters, and hospitals for curtains, blinds, and drapes. 

They are also used to create tents, hospital drapes, tarps, banners, signs, and even in the military. It has industrial uses when manufacturing occupational suits, welding protective clothing, firefighter uniform, military gear, industrial protective clothing, etc. Chemically treated fabrics can be used to create foam for different types of furniture, car seats, blinds, decorative textiles, and insulation for buildings and homes. 

Conclusion

Flame retardant clothing is usually manufactured from cotton fire retardant fabric. It is commonly used for general industrial fire retardant and thermal protection. There are different types of fire retardant fabrics, inherent fire retardant, and chemically treated fire retardant fabrics. Inherent fire retardant fabrics have a unique structure on their fibers that resist fire. On the other hand, chemically-treated fire retardant fabrics are applied with a chemical solution to make them slow-burning and not easily catch fire. 

If you need fire retardant fabrics, make sure to check out a reliable wholesale distributor like Spandex Warehouse. If you want to order any type of fabric, please check out this link to send us a purchase order. You can also request a quote here. If you have any questions or inquiries about our products, you can contact us by filling up this contact form here

If you are searching for a wholesale supplier of fire retardant fabrics, Spandex Warehouse is the perfect solution for your dilemma. Our company has been in the fabric industry for more than 15 years and we have catered to our clients’ wholesale fabric needs. If you need different types of fabrics such as fire retardant fabrics, please let us know. We will help you find the best fabric that will suit your needs.

You can call us at 213-629-7416 or send an inquiry email at [email protected] If you want to visit our showroom, make sure to schedule an appointment first. We are located at 776 Gladys AVE, Los Angeles, CA 90021. If you need to purchase fire retardant fabrics make sure to choose the best, Spandex Warehouse is the perfect choice for all your wholesale fabric needs!