difference between viscose and lyocell bamboo fabric

Bamboo Viscose vs Bamboo Lyocell Fabric in Sheets: What’s the Difference?

Confused as to the difference between bamboo viscose vs bamboo lyocell bamboo fibers? We’ll dive in to the nuances, so will be able to discern the differences in your decision when buying bamboo sheets or other bamboo-based products.

There are two ways that bamboo cellulose is made into rayon. (1) The viscose process and (2) the lyocell process. Which will you chose? We discuss the good and the bad of each.

What is Bamboo Viscose (also known as Bamboo Rayon) Bamboo Fabric?

bamboo viscose or bambo rayon

The process of converting bamboo into a fiber is done by chemical process. The viscose process is the most common way to produce bamboo rayon.

The viscose process involves first shredding bamboo into a cellulose material, and then dissolving the cellulose with harsh chemicals. This results in a viscous solution. The solution is then re-solidified using sulfuric acid while it is being spun into fibers. The fibers are then made into threads and fabrics.

The chemicals used are highly toxic and a risk to human health. Fabricated in countries where environmental regulations are lack or non-existing, these chemical have been known to be release into waterways, posing serious environmental damage and health risks to people and wildlife.

Viscose Process

The Good vs The Bad Bamboo Viscose Sheets

Good:
What makes bamboo fiber made of rayon different than cotton, is this process results in a fiber that is soft, cool and breathable, moisture wicking, durable and hypoallergenic.

  • Bamboo viscose based products are generally more affordable than the lyocell fabric.
  • They are also more commonly found.
  • Generally you have a greater selection of colors and sizes than lyocell.

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Even though harsh chemicals are used to make the bamboo fiber, the good news is that the chemicals used in the viscose-making process do not necessarily remain as residue on the fibers. A green certification called Oeko-Tex verifies that the finished material has been tested to be free of chemical residues which may be harmful to health. Low end bamboo bedding may not have this. Therefore, to ensure your safety, always look for the Oeko-Tex label.

Bad:

  • Viscose bamboo-based fibers are generally low on sustainability and protection of the environment.
    Bamboo rayon may be treated with chlorine-containing bleach and zinc sulphate, which are not good for the environment, workers, or wildlife.
  • When washing your viscose sheets, it shouldn’t go in the dryer, making it a bit more difficult to care for.

If you decide to go for viscose bamboo sheets or other products, check out our buyer’s guide to the best bamboo sheets to see how they rank.

What is Bamboo Modal Fabric?

Fabric described as bamboo modal is made with basically the same chemical process as viscose, but an extra step use used to make the modal stronger, lighter and finer than the viscose rayon.

This makes modal ideal for sports clothing or where durability is important. It’s not too common in the bedding world, though. You see this more commonly in underwear, leggings and baby clothes.

Unlike viscose rayon, bamboo modal fabric can go into the dryer. It is durable when wet and is extra soft.

What is Bamboo Lyocell Bamboo Fabric?

Bamboo lyocell for environmental sustainability

When trying to understand the difference between bamboo viscose vs bamboo lyocell fabric, the bottom line is that the lyocell process is a lot more worker and environmentally friendly, and is considered a sustainable material. So if the environment and work safety are important to you, then select products that are labelled “bamboo lyocell”. A synonym to this is “bamboo Tencel™”, which is a trademark name for the lyocell process.

Bamboo lyocell is the alternative way to produce bamboo rayon. The basic raw materials and process starts the same way –fiber from bamboo pulp. From there it diverges into how the bamboo is converted into a fiber. The lyocell process is more efficient and less wasteful.

Bamboo lyocell process

It is a closed-loop system where 99% of the chemical solution is recaptured and re-used, so much less hazardous waste is produced. The remaining emissions are broken down in biological water treatment plants. The solvent is not acidic and therefore it works well for sensitive skin. This process is a lot more common in countries that have stronger environmental regulations.

The Good vs The Bad Bamboo Lyocell Sheets

Good:
Like the viscose bamboo, what makes bamboo fiber made of rayon different than cotton, is this process results in a fiber that is soft, cool and breathable, moisture wicking, durable and hypoallergenic.

  • Lyocell bamboo-based sheets are generally better on sustainability and protection of the environment.
  • This bamboo fiber is more commonly made in USA and other places where environmental sustainability is a priority.
  • Comparing bamboo viscose vs bamboo lyocell sheets in terms of feel, softness, and durability, there are minimal differences.

Bad:
The bad qualities aren’t so bad, but rather a disadvantage since this fabric isn’t as common.

  • Because the lyocell process is more expensive, only a few brands are making bamboo viscose in this way, thus is it harder to find.
  • Lyocell bamboo fiber products are generally a bit more expensive and you may have less selection of bamboo sheets and other bamboo linens.
  • When washing your lyocell sheets, it shouldn’t go in the dryer, making it a bit more difficult to care for.

If you decide to go for lyocell bamboo sheets or other products, check out our buyer’s guide to the best bamboo sheets to see how they rank.

Wondering if there are any bamboo sheets to avoid? Then check out this article to distinguish a good quality bamboo sheet from a bad quality bamboo sheet:

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At Positively Sustainable, we are committed to providing information that will help you to make confident choices about the products you buy. We believe in the power of ethical consumerism to hold businesses accountable and make sure that they are manufacturing products in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

Join us on our journey towards a positively sustainable future.

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