“My mother used to cut up old wool clothes and use them for insulation in her potholders” the woman cutting 10 yards of Insulbrite (the insulated batting I use inside my potholders) at JoAnne Fabric told me. I thought of all the stories I heard about the early settlers dresses catching on fire when they cooked. Weren’t their dresses made of wool?
That was years ago, and I never forgot what the woman in JoAnne Fabrics said because I liked the idea of it. If I used wool as insulation, my potholders would be made of 100% recycled fabric. But, in my mind, I kept seeing a 1950’s illustration of a pioneer woman’s long skirt going up in flames as she leaned over the fireplace.
Then, a couple of months ago, Uta gave me 3 boxes of fabric. One of them was filled with yards of gray and blue and black wool. And when I ran out of Insulbrite last week, I thought of the wool.
So I Googled, “is wool flammable?” and found the IWTO’s (International Wool Textile Organization) Wool and Flame Resistance Fact Sheet. And it seems that the cotton fabric I use on the outside of my potholders is more likely to burn than wool.
So I put a big black X through the bad illustration of the woman’s burning skirt, in my mind, and did an experiment. I made a potholder using one piece of cotton batting and three layers of Uta’s wool. Then I gave the potholder to Jon to try out. I would have tested it myself, but he was already making lunch.
First he used it on the frying pan handle, but that doesn’t ever get really hot, so then he used it to take the cookie sheet out of the oven that the Kale was on. Once I saw he didn’t get burned, I tried it too. Not a trace of heat came through the potholder.
The potholder is a little denser and a little softer, which actually makes it easier to grab with.
I have a few more experiments to do. I think I can use 3 or 4 layers of wool and leave out the cotton batting. So I’ll try that. But I also want to see how it washes. I imagine the wool will shrink if I put it in the dryer, pulling the potholder out of shape. Which would make my potholders not as easy to clean. But would also make them more environmentally sound by using 100% recycled materials and having to line dry them.
I’m open to input, so if anyone know more about this than I do, I’d like to hear what you have to say. And I’ll let you know how it goes on my end.