Sheep's Wool, Alpaca & Camel Down Information
We love wool! Wool is used extensively in many of the products we offer; primarily in the way of sleep products, mattresses, pillows, duvets, and exceptional quality blankets. Wool is a naturally safe, hypoallergenic choice which offers an array of benefits.
Wool is a natural flame retardant, and when utilized in the right way this avoids the use of petrochemical fire retardant treatments in mattresses, sofas and more. Wool is able to absorb much more moisture than other fibres, wool regulates temperature and humidity efficiently and is still one of the best pressure relieving materials, even when compared to specialty pressure relieving foams.
Best of all, the wool used in our products is not cleaned with harsh chemicals. Our wool processing avoids the risk of wool allergies in almost every situation, even for those who may have wool allergy concerns.
What is Wool?
Wool is a fibre derived from various animals. The varieties we commonly work with are sheep's wool, camel down and alpaca. Wool is a naturally hypoallergenic product, and it is resistant to dust mites, mould/mildew and bacteria growth. When cleaned and prepared correctly, wool is the most hygienic fibre to use in any textile where machine washing is not practical. Great examples of wool usage are directly under the surface of a mattress; an area rug; or as an upholstery fabric for sofas. Wool simply stays cleaner than other fibres for years of use. For those that are lucky enough to own a pair of modern woolen sport socks you will have no doubt noticed that wool socks do not suffer from the same level of odour compared to standard cotton socks.
Due to selective breeding there are hundreds of different varieties of domesticated sheep in the world. Wool fibres come in a wide variety of micron (fineness), length, curliness, et cetera. Different wools are better suited for specific uses. For instance, when used as a mattress fill or for a woolen rug, typically the thicker/curlier more robust wools are preferred. If however the wool is coming in direct contact with human skin, such as the case with a fine blanket, much softer and finer fleeces are desirable. The price range between different types of wool can be significant, in orders of magnitude.
Benefits of Sheep's Wool
- Wool is anti-microbial, dust mite resistant, and hypoallergenic. Excellent for allergy sufferers!
- Wool is a natural insulator, allowing for excellent body temperature regulation.
- Wool fibres allow for moisture to be absorbed and stored as required, keeping the body dry and then released back into the environment.
- Pressure relief; less tossing and turning, resulting in a rested nights sleep.
- Wool fibres are difficult to ignite and are self-extinguishing in many cases eliminating the need of additional fire resistant treatments being added to mattress fabrics or upholstery foams.
- Wool is proven to steady the heart rate and allows us to sleep deeper.
Benefits of Alpaca
Alpaca fibre is lighter and warmer than sheep's wool. This means the equivalent insulating duvet filled with alpaca is simply thinner and lighter than a traditional sheep's wool duvet. Alpaca fleece is one of nature's most efficient insulators. The only duvets we offer that are lighter than Alpaca are goose and eiderdown duvets.
Crescent Moon is our exclusive alpaca duvet supplier. Crescent Moon sources their entire raw alpaca fleece from BC and Alberta, supporting sustainable local ranches. Brun de Vian-Tiran are our exclusive alpaca blanket maker. They have been crafting the finest blankets in Provence, France since 1808. The raising of alpaca's is very eco-friendly. They produce a large amount of fleece for a relatively small amount of feed. Their preference for soft feed coupled with their effective digestive system means their waste does not need to be composted before being used as fertilizer.
Benefits of Camel Down
We offer duvets, pillows and even mattresses insulated with camel down. Like alpaca, camel down is significantly lighter and warmer than sheep’s wool. This allows the duvet to be made thinner and lighter. Camel down is still surprisingly warm in a cool bedroom yet less likely to overheat due to the reduced weight and enhanced breathability of a thinner, lighter duvet.
Camel down offers the broadest comfort range in terms of temperature of any fibre due to its exceptional ability to regulate humidity. Camels originally evolved in the arctic millions of years ago and eventually over time the populations migrated to various places in the world, with the common dromedary (single hump) camels more so in the Middle East and northern Africa. The larger Bactrian (double hump) camels in Asia are the species our camel fibres are sourced from. Other camels migrated to South America and became smaller over time evolving into the alpacas, llamas and guanacos that we see today.
There is a fascinating ancient connection to these wonderful animal fibres!.
While sleeping, the average person can lose up to one pint (approximately 500 mL) of moisture. This moisture ends up being trapped around the body, creating a damp, uncomfortable sleeping environment. This can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as disturbed sleep.
The unique physical structure of wool fibres allow for moisture to be absorbed and stored as needed. When using a wool mattress cover, along with wool pillows and a wool duvet, you’re being surrounded by your own personal climate control system. This will prevent tossing and turning, as well as the “one leg out of the covers” that many people put up with every night.
Wool is able to absorb approximately 35% of its weight in moisture and still feel dry to the touch. On the other hand, cotton absorbs only 8%. Performance polyesters absorb only 1% before feeling damp to the touch.
Contrary to popular belief, wool does not sleep hot!
Lanolin (found in most wool's but not alpaca), has long had the reputation of causing allergic reactions although lanolin allergies are very rare. The vast majority of the time people react poorly to wool is simply exposure to very rough (high micron) fibres that are very prickly in direct contact with the skin, the resulting redness of the skin is caused by simple mechanical friction and irritation. Most of our bedding products are wrapped in cotton which ensure no direct contact with skin or in the case of blankets from Brun de Vian-Tiran are made from very fine soft wools which do not itch. Pure, virgin wool is an exceptionally safe choice for almost anyone. Even those who cannot wear wool clothing are almost always entirely fine with high quality wool bedding.
It is important to understand that allergy potential is never caused by the actual fibre itself. Wool is made of a protein called Keratin. Keratins are also what human hair, fingernails and all animal hair, wool, claws, hooves, horns, bird feathers, lizard and fish scales are made of. An allergy to keratin itself has never been demonstrated. If someone was allergic to keratin they would be allergic to their own finger nails and hair. Common allergy scratch tests will always indicate an allergy as they are not using sterilized bird feathers to scratch people, similarly being scratched by a house cat's claws are not sterile and the resulting inflammation on the scratch are caused by bacteria or dander that is on the surface of the claw. If wool, and down are properly sterilized and dander is removed these are simply not issues.
The Mattress & Sleep Company Recommends Wool!
We consider wool to be an "unsurpassed" material. When you look at how well various wools regulate temperature and humidity, this unique material has yet to be surpassed by man made fibres for personal comfort products. The Mattress & Sleep Company has assembled an incredible range of sofas, blankets, pillows, mattresses, duvets and protectors all featuring pure, natural wool fills free of harsh chemicals and cleaning ingredients. All of our suppliers ensure the wool is collected under the most humane conditions and meet strict standards for the treatment of animals.
- Berkeley Ergonomics - All of our products from Berkeley utilize 100% organic sheep's wool from France. This wool carries the Plein Air certificate from the French Wool Association.
- Brun de Vian-Tiran – Making some of the finest woolen blankets in the world since 1808. Inventor of the Mohair blanket, uses many different varieties of sheeps wool from around the world in different blends. As well as many exquisite varieties of other wools, Alpaca, Camel, Llama, Cashmir, Yangir, Cashgora and even Yak.
- Crescent Moon Alpaca - Alpaca/wool filled organic bedding products hand made in BC
- Natura - A Canadian bedding maker using merino wool from New Zealand in many bedding products.
- Obasan - 100% organic Argentinian sheep's wool.
- St Dormeir by St Geneve - the best-selling item in our entire store and a must have for mattresses that do not already have pure wool quilting.
- Vispring – Feature the highest quality platinum certified British wool in their mattresses, and in higher end models like the Regal Superb and Tiara Superb they use Shetland wool which is the highest grade wool used in any mattress today.