The Benefits of Wool

A naturally smart fabric with amazing properties

 

Properties of Wool

Apart from keeping the body comfortable and warm, medical sheepskin possesses many unique properties that you may not be aware of.

Regulates Temperature

 Wool helps the body regulate temperature by both insulating from the cold   

and dissipating heat. This is thanks to efficient airflow between the fibres

enhanced by the natural crimping of un-spun wool. In cold conditions,

warm air is distributed through the sheepskin, keeping the whole body

equally warm. Sheepskin is a wonderful material to sleep on in hot

weather too. The University of Sydney demonstrated this in their sleep

research, which found that participants sleeping on wool in hot conditions

(29° Celsius) slept for significantly longer, had faster sleep onset and woke

up less frequently during the night than participants sleeping on a mattress

covered only by a sheet (Woolmark, 2011).   

Wicks Moisture

Wool has the natural ability to wick moisture, and is known as a hydrophilic

material for its ability to absorb moisture without actually feeling wet. Wool

can carry almost one-third of its own weight in water before feeling wet to

the touch, making it a popular fabric for traditional-style reusable diapers.

Wet skin is very uncomfortable and over time can cause maceration and

weakening of the skin, so this ability to wick moisture is a great benefit for

both comfort and skin protection.

Reduces Shear and Friction

The outermost layer of protein on a fibre of wool makes it very smooth – making it easy for the fibres to move against each another

and accommodate movement. This means that your skin moves across the surface with less resistance, keeping the shear and friction

forces to a minimum. These forces can be a contributing factor towards a feeling of discomfort when seated or lying down.

Redistributes Pressure

Improved pressure redistribution is a proven quality of medical sheepskins. Every wool fibre acts like a tiny spring, absorbing pressure

without flattening out and becoming solid. In pressure mapping images you can see the difference that a Shear Comfort Cushion-It

makes in reducing peak pressure points compared to resting on a non-cushioned surface, see the evidence here.

 

References: The Woolmark Company, 2011, [online] Available at http://www.merino.com/Content/en-GB/Media/Sleep_Research.pdf (Accessed 21/03/13)

 

 

 

 

 

What is Shear Comfort?

Shear Comfort products use specially selected wool from a specific cross-breed of sheep to give it the optimum properties for pressure care and microclimate control.  

 You have heard of Merino Wool, this is very commonly used in clothing as it has the finest fibre size, making it very soft. However, this also means it doesn't perform quite so well as a pressure redistribution tool as the fibres compress too easily. So by crossbreeding a Merino sheep with an English Ram with coarser wool we can produce a wool that’s beautifully soft to touch, yet offers brilliant pressure redistribution at the same time. Most of our products are made of our unique XD1900 material, manufactured out of medical grade sheep's wool which has been woven onto a different backing in order to achieve a higher fibre density. Thanks to the treatment process our wool goes through all Shear Comfort™ products can be washed up to and over 80°C, plus our XD1900 material can be washed using normal household detergent as it doesn’t have the natural leather backing. All our products are made to exceed the Australian Medical Sheepskin Standard which guarantees their exceedingly high quality and therapeutic properties. 

Australian Medical Sheepskin

All Shear Comfort products meet and surpass the Australian Medical Sheep Skin Standard AS4480.1 This standard stipulates that the wool needs to be of a high enough quality to perform as a medical device for pressure distribution purposes by meeting the

following standards:

  • Be well trimmed and pre-washed

  • Have wool pile of uniform length and density, well-defined staple and crimp,                                                                                             straight to light curl in appearance that is free from pilling and vegetable matter.

  • Possess a Wool fibre diameter of 26-34 µm (microns) and be 25- 30 mm long

  • Stay flat when laid down- at all times, the product should be able lie flat on a                                                                                                 horizontal surface with minimum curling around the edges.

  • HiTemp Medical Sheepskins must have a minimum shrink temperature of                                                                                              110°C and the size should not decrease more than 5 cm after 50 wash cycles.

  • Be colourfast 

 
 
 

Our Commitment to Wool Quality

We source the finest quality wool for superior pressure redistribution and comfort.

 

Authenticity

Firstly, real wool comes from real sheep. Synthetic 'wool' products will not

contain the same properties as sheep’s wool and are merely a cheap

imitation. Synthetic fibres compress far more easily than natural wool,

and do not spring back as fully, compromising the pressure-distribution

quality of any synthetic 'sheepskin'. Because of this compression, airflow

to the skin is reduced and the temperature-controlling and insulating

properties of real wool are lost.

Synthetic fibres such as polyester are hydrophobic, and do not possess

the moisture-absorbing capabilities of wool. Synthetic sheepskins were

brought to the market because they were cheap, and could be washed

at high temperatures. Shear Comfort Natural carries the Australian

hi-temp UR stamp, which guarantees the product can be washed at

80°C without shrinking, keeping the wool hygienically clean. Synthetic

sheepskins may look nice, but are most certainly a waste of money for

any other use – only wool can do what wool can do.

 

Fibre Size

This is measured and expressed in microns, a measurement of the

average fibre diameter. There are different applications for wools

with different micron measurements for example a micron average

of 11-30 is ideal for clothing where the softness and smoothness

are important, a micron of 30+ is ideal for a rug or coat as it is

particularly hard wearing. The fibre size is determined by the breed

of sheep, for instance merino wool has a low micron measurement

and is widely used in clothing. We use a wool from a Merino-English

ram cross breed with a micron of 30 as our research has found this gives

our wool an optimal balance of pressure redistribution and softness.

Pile Length

This is the length of the individual fibres and effects the pressure

distribution properties of a sheepskin. The longer the fibres, the

thicker the sheepskin. All our products have a pile length of 30mm,

except a few items of footwear where slenderness takes priority over

pile length. This is the higher-end of the pile length permitted by the

Australian Medical Sheepskin Standard, making the sheepskin thick

enough to distribute pressure but not so long that the fibres to get

tangled amongst each other.

 

Fibre Density

Fibre density is very important in relation to the sheepskin’s ability to

redistribute pressure, the more fibres you can pack into an area the

better the pressure redistribution is going to be. The best that a high

end medical grade natural sheepskin can achieve is 1200gsm, whereas

we have honed a manufacturing technique to be able to pack in 1900gsm

– this became our XD1900 material. Be careful though, as many cheaper

products in the marketplace use skins with a density more like 800gsm.

 

Take a look at this pressure map to see the difference this makes 

Shear Comfort Pressure Map PDF

 

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