Tencel is a type of fabric made from raw wood materials. It was developed by an Austrian company in 1972 and has since become widely popular for its sustainability, antibacterial properties, and comfortable texture.
Manufacturers often combine Tencel with other textiles, especially cotton or silk to create sportswear, mattresses, and bedding. Tencel mattress protectors and sheets are especially popular, along with the Tencel mattress.
Besides having a soft texture, Tencel helps regulate temperature and wick moisture away from the skin. If you’re a hot sleeper or live in a warm climate, Tencel bedding might be just what you need.
What Is Tencel?
There are two types of Tencel: Tencel Lyocell fibers and Tencel Modal fibers. Both types of fibers are produced from sustainably sourced wood cellulose. Wood cellulose is the primary strengthening material in wood. Manufacturers use a chemical process to dissolve the wood pulp, extract the cellulose, spin it into fibers, and then weave it into yarn.
Tencel Modal fibers create an incredibly comfortable fabric that is whisper-soft and stretchy. For these reasons, manufacturers frequently use Modal for making sportswear and undergarments.
Tencel Lyocell fibers are used in a variety of fabrics and offer strength, extreme comfort to the skin, and effective moisture absorption. Because of their versatility, Lyocell fibers are often combined with other fibers like silk, polyester, cotton, or wool, and are often used in bedding.
How Is Tencel Made?
To make Tencel, manufacturers combine ground wood pulp with a chemical solvent and put it through a process called spinning. Spinning allows the wood polymer to be extruded through thin holes in an instrument called a spinneret. Once the fiber leaves the spinneret, it starts to dry and solidify. After drying, the fiber is then made into thread, which is woven into a fabric.
The entire production of Tencel is more environmentally friendly than that of making most other fabrics.
Both types of Tencel are defined as regenerated fibers. Tencel Lyocell is made from sustainable eucalyptus wood, whereas Tencel Modal is made from beechwood pulp. Eucalyptus trees grow fast — in some cases up to 100 feet in just a decade — and require less water than many other trees. This makes Tencel’s woven fibers more environmentally friendly than many other fabrics.
The solvent used in making Tencel is amine oxide (MMNO), which is heated and the wood pulp dissolves in it. The resulting product is then put into a bath which removes the amine oxide. Most of the solvent is reclaimed and reused. This technique is called a closed-loop method in manufacturing and is part of a sustainable business model. Because the solvent is recaptured, the amount of emissions into the atmosphere is significantly lowered.
How Is Tencel Used?
Tencel is popularly used in clothing, furniture upholstery, bedding, and other products. Its natural sateen weave creates an attractive texture, appearance, and skin feel. And because Tencel fibers are produced from sustainable sources, their uses are growing in popularity.
Tencel Bed Sheets
Tencel’s natural antibacterial properties stem from its ability to wick moisture away. This is another benefit of Tencel, in addition to its sustainability and silk-like feel.
You can often find Tencel sheets blended with bamboo or linen. Tencel is durable, easily washable, and besides being soft, is incredibly strong. Tencel sheets have deep corner pockets to lessen any potential slippage from your mattress.