There are a lot of silk impostors out there, especially when it comes to rugs. So, “how can I tell if my rug is silk?” you might ask.
As a specialty oriental rug cleaner, I see and touch rugs everyday and can usually spot a fake silk rug fairly easily. However, for the consumer, that maybe has never actually seen or touched a real silk rug, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference. In fact, many carpet cleaners can’t even tell the difference between wool, silk, and artificial silk rugs.
So what is fake silk. Well, it goes by several different names but it generally has the same characteristics. Namely, that the colors fade, it wears quickly and the texture easily and permanently becomes distorted. It may be called Banana Silk, Bamboo Silk, Artificial Silk, Art Silk, Cotton Silk, Mercerized Cotton, Rayon, or Viscose. The one thing they have in common is that they are made by turning a cellulose plant fiber into liquid and then into a yarn and they are definitely NOT real silk.
A few ways you can tell if you rug is real silk, is by the feel. While both are equally soft, real silk usually feels cooler to the touch, however, this is rather subjective but could be more accurate if you are comparing real silk and viscose side by side.
Deal with a trusted, reputable rug dealer. I have seen rugs that say “100% silk” and not found any silk in the rug.
Finally, performing a burn test with a single fiber can indicate the type of fiber. Viscose and other artificial silk will smell and act like burning paper. Real silk on the other hand will smell like burning hair. Though it should be noted that silk and wool have similar smell when burned.
To learn more about Viscose, watch this short video below.