What are Heat Resistant Fabrics?
Fire-resistant fabrics or Heat resistant fabrics are designed to be used by employees working in industry as a defense shield against hazards that occur in their workplaces, by exposure to warm and molten steel, blinding flames and arc bursts or dust explosions. Materials are most likely to be caught in the flames in these situations, but in the case of flame-resistant materials, these fabrics have self-extinguishing properties that stop burning after the material is separated from the fire source and further prevent ignitions without melting or harming the wearer.
In a case where there is a fire hazard at the workplace, these heat resistant fabric serve as a safety shield. A shield of cloth trap that traps air inside its fibers and this air extinguishes any flame that might catch on it. The self-extinguishing properties of these fabrics make it possible for the worker to get out of the fire immediately.
Although sudden fires are not as frequent, fire is still a danger that happens every day due to fast-moving machinery and metal melting in the factory. It is very likely that a worker will come into contact with these warm surfaces and burn themselves, but if they wear a heatproof, they will not be burnt in the process and return home safely.
These protective clothing provide employees with a sense of comfort in a harsh environment. When the workers feel safe from all the hot and fiery dangers that lurk around in their workplace they can focus on their work and give the best possible results. Using heat resistant fabrics may not end the possibilities of mishaps happening in the workplace but it can minimize the severity of the accidents that might occur.
Types of heat resistant clothing
There are a lot of types in heat resistant textiles but the can be summed in two main categories such as inherent and treated heat resistant fabrics. The variations are quite minor between these two because they both have the same function that is to protect the person who wears them. However, they do have characteristics that make them different.
Inherent or Natural Fabrics
Like the name tells us, these fabrics are naturally heat resistant. The material that is made into this fabric is a poor conductor of heat as it does not allow the transfer of heat energy from the heat source to the body. The fibers trap air molecules within themselves which provides invisible insolation to the body. This property can be enhanced by mixing different fibers together and creating more effective clothing for heat protection. An example of such material is cotton which is grown in fields and is used in a lot of clothing.
The advantage of having an inherently heat resistant fabric is that it provides protection from high heat in the surroundings as it does not ignite they do burn to an extent but they self-extinguish themselves.
As the inherent fabric comes into contact with flame or temperature the oxidized fibers turn into carbon or charcoal and increase in size which removes oxygen gas from the fabrics and gives insulation to the skin from the heat. The fibers are oxidized and they often don’t shrink when they come into contact with flames or heat. If these fibers are supposed to get shrunken they would lose the layers that contain air between them which will decrease insulation that it could have provided.
These heat resistant fabrics burn for a split second and auto extinguish afterward without letting any heat pass through them. The fabric does not allow the fire to spread onto the fabric and slowly the fire goes down in spots.
Inherent workwear fabric does not contain any chemical coating and this is a good thing as far as the life span of the fabric is concerned. The chemical that is coated on fabrics to give them heat resistant properties can be washed away by detergent and water, so every time that the fabric is washed it loses its fire resistance. This can be avoided with natural fabrics as they don’t contain any chemicals on them or inside them.
Treated Heat resistant fabrics
Treated fabrics are made from a natural heat resistant material like cotton. A lot of times cotton is mixed with other fibers such as nylon or other types of polyester to make it stronger and less expensive. Nylon is also a kind of plastic so it can melt in high temperature in its natural form. The blend can have a different ration depending on the manufacturer but it is mostly 88 percent cotton and 12 percent polyester or nylon.
These mixed heat resistant fabrics are coated with chemicals that are flame retardant so fire and heat cannot pass through the fibers and transfer to the skin. These chemicals can wash off and are not permanent. These fabrics may not last long but they can be cared for to last them longer by following the information on the garment manual.
Treated fabrics are topical and temporary as many have washing limit and are less expensive. Companies try to save money on clothing without risking the quality of the product. Treated Fire resistant fabrics are not as comfortable as the natural clothing and are much heavier so workers might feel uneasy wearing it.
Determining the quality of the Heat resistant fabric
In today's technological world, we are not shocked by a large amount of heat resistant materials even in the field of heat resistant fabrics. Every heat resistant material has its own advantages and disadvantages and it must be determined what kind of material is needed and what characteristics it should contain.
The heat resistant type of clothing you buy depends entirely on your needs. Every heatproof clothing purchased should be checked and labeled as safe to use by the manufacturer. If the clothing is safe to use it would be a printed stamp that shows that the clothing complies with the requirements of the government. You must know what kind of composites and chemicals are used to produce the material for any type of safety fabric as this can affect its life and determine the environment of its use.
Many heat resistant products last longer than others. The life of a heatproof textile depends on the frequency and manufacture. Most of them are made of cotton and polyester blend and some often have a chemical layer which increases the resistance against fire.
The best heatproof textile will be long-lasting but may cost more than the average product, but it will be economical due to its comparatively longer lifespan.
Taking care of your Fire resistant garments
Such textiles can last longer when properly taken care of. As it is being widely used, the performance of flameproof fabrics declines. When used, these fabrics often become filthy and must be washed away. After any fabric is washed, the textiles break against the fibers of the cloth as a result of the harsh molecules and detergent chemicals. This weakens the textiles and therefore shortens the life of the material.
Bleaching and hard detergent can damage the fibers of the fabric when you wash these clothes with chemical products, warm water, scrubbing and squeezing out water with hands are other things that make fabrics less effective. The flame-proof fabrics can last longer by following the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Once you purchase, an inspection of the clothes is important to determine its quality and fitness for use. Where the clothes are stitched open, minor stitching or proper punctures can be applied to repair the damaged fabric. In the case of tears, the clothing should be repaired, as tears can jeopardize the quality of the clothing and lead to a long-term serious accident.