If you burn a sample of the fibres, you’ll be able to identify the fibres based on the scent and thus the ash.. Samples of the fibre are often also identified under the microscope. The structures of the fibres show some characteristics. Chemical testing can also assist in the detection of fibres.

Introduction To Identification Of Textile Fibres:

There are different types of textile fibres used in the garment. The care taken to maintain the fabric made of a particular fibre is only possible if the producer of the garment has some knowledge of identifying the type of fibres.

It is especially important to be able to identify the fibres while dyeing clothes. You need to know what type of dye needs to be used on a given fabric; as many dyes are very specific to the fibre they are used on.

Why Is Fibres Identification Important?

The knowledge of identifying the textile fibers helps a producer of garments to identify the type of fiber and thus the care to be taken in maintaining the fabrics made from a specific sort of fiber. This is often a crucial factor for labeling of the clothes , which incorporates specifying the fiber content within the garment.

Classification Of Identification Test:

Technical testSolubility Test
Microscopic Appearance
Non-techmical testPhysical or Feeling Test
Burning Test

Chemical/ Solubility Test:

It can be carried out in a laboratory, as it involves chemicals and acids. It is tested by the experts in the testing lab.

Microscopic Test:


  • Longitudinal View: Flat ribbon-like structures, twisted in shape. The canal may be seen at the centre of the fibre. This canal is called lumen.
  • Cross-sectional View: The fibre bean or kidney shaped with collapsed lumen appearing like line.


  • Longitudinal View: It is cylindrical in shape and has nodes. Irregular and wide lumen is also seen.
  • Cross-sectional View : Irregular and polygonal in shape and lumen appears as a hole at the centre.


  • Longitudinal View: It appears cylindrical and thick in shape. It has a thin lumen.
  • Cross-sectional View: It is polygonal or many-sided in shape, uneven dots at the centre of the section.


  • Longitudinal view: It consists of scales overlapping each other. In coarse wool, thick canal may be seen at centre of the fibre. This is called the medulla.
  • Cross-sectional View: Wool is nearly circular in shape and medulla if present may be scen clearly.


  • Longitudinal View: Raw silk has double filament. In degummed silk, the gum is removed hence appears as a single filament.
  • Cross-sectional View: It appears as irregular triangle, many of which have rounded edges.


  • Longitudinal View: Fibres appear cylindrical and have regular and smooth surface. Black specs indicate the presence of titanium dioxide.
  • Cross-sectional View: Fibres are circular in shape.


  • Longitudinal View: Fibres appear cylindrical and have regular and smooth surface. Black specs indicate—the presence of titanium.
  • Cross Sectional View: Fibres are circular in shape.


  • Longitudinal View: Fibres appear to have a uniform distance with glass like lustre.
  • Cross Sectional View: Fibres are irregular.


Natural Fibres:

  1. Cotton: It is cool and rough to touch and it is not elastic.
  2. Jute: It is coarse and rough to touch. It is dull in colour.
  3. Wool: It is warm and rough to touch and light in weight.
  4. Linen: It is cool and rough to touch and it is not elastic.
  5. Silk: Silk feels cool, soft, smooth, glossy and elastic.

Man Made Fibres:

  • Nylon: It is smooth to touch and light in weight.
  • Polyester: It is stiff and smooth to touch.


  • A fabric burn test is the easiest way to identify the fabric content. The test helps you to discover if a fabric is 100% pure or made from other blended fibres.
  • The burning test may be a great way to see on a bit of cloth you’ve got rummaged out of the discount bin.
  • Burning tests reveal the results by employing a flame to burn the material and examining for the sort of flame and ashes it produces. Different fibers will react differently to burning and reveal themselves.


  • Cut the material into small 2 inches (5cm) squares and hold them on the corners with the tweezers. confirm you hold the material over the tin.
  • Light the match only after you’ve got read the security tips below during this article. Hold the flame directly under the corner of the material then observe the reaction of the material to the flame. Safety first – don’t use an outsized flame.
  • It is important to note the smell of the burning fabric and therefore the ash left after the burning.

Three points to notice in your burning test are:

  1. Reaction to flame
  2. The smell of the burn
  3. And finally the design of the ash


To find out what kind of fibre content they have is to do a burning test. The way the fibre burns or melts, the way it responds to flame, the way it responds in contact with flame, the way it responds off flame, the way it smells when it burns and the quality of ash it leaves behind, will all provide clues to the type of fabric you have.

Safety Precautions:

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Use metal tweezers or tongs to hold the fabric you are burning and have fire extinguishing materials handy, just in case.
  • Don’t do the test when you have sinus problems or a cold and don’t use matches or refillable lighters with a strong fuel smell; a disposable lighter works best.
Types Of FiberResponse To FlameIn Contact With FlameOff FlameOdourQuality Of Ash
CottonIgnites immediatelyBurns with yellow flameContinues to burnBurning paperThe ash is fine, soft and crumbles easily
LilenTakes longer to igniteBurns with yellow flameNo after glow is seen and easily extinguishedBurning paperFeathery grey ash
SilkMelts away from the flameBurns and melts slowly with sputtersSelf-extinguishingSmells like burnt hair or charred meatDark and shiny bead crumbles easily
WoolMelts away from the flameMelts and burnsSelf-extinguishing & flame resistantSmells like burnt hairBead of ash crumbles when it cools down
RayonIgnites & scorches readilyBurns quickly with a yellow flameContinues to glow for a whileLike burning paperLight grey & feathery
NylonFuses & shrinks away from the flameBurns slowly & meltsDrips dangerously & is self extinguishingLike burnt celeryHard, grayish & uncrushable beads
PolysterFuses & shrinks away from the flameBurns slowly & meltsBurns slowly & is not self extinguishingSweet chemical odourHard, dark & round beads


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Fashion Designer, blogger, content writer, graphic designer with canva


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