Bamboo is a truly amazing material that has many benefits, one of which is its ability to wick moisture away from the skin. Moisture is not a bad thing, but too much moisture that stays on the skin for too long can cause irritation, which is a bad thing.
Many of the materials that we use for clothing and bedding - a.k.a. The materials that come into and stay in close contact with our skin - are actually moisture absorbing rather than moisture wicking. Let’s examine these two properties more closely and see why bamboo is the best material to keep you dry.
Moisture Absorbing Materials
Materials that absorb moisture are made with fibres that have structures naturally tend to absorb moisture and keep it there. A very common example of this is cotton, and modern technology has also given us modal, micro-modal, Tencel, and other viscose-based fibres. These materials are made mainly from plant cellulose fibres, which are naturally built to suck up moisture.
When you wear clothing or lie on bedding made from cotton or one of these other moisture absorbing materials, your sweat gets pulled into the tiny gaps in their fibres called micropores. Yes, this pulls sweat away from your body, but it traps the sweat there on your shirt and pillowcase and bed sheets. It doesn’t necessarily feel uncomfortable, but when the material can’t absorb any more moisture, you’re in trouble. It will sit next to your skin, and it actually stays there for longer than it would if you had no shirt on. The absorbing material holds it. The moisture can’t evaporate. It’s stuck, and it’s stuck on you.
Because they hold moisture, these absorbing fabrics are good for when you want to protect an outer shirt from getting moist and showing unseemly sweat marks. But if you’re already too hot, why would you want to wear a second shirt?
Moisture Wicking Materials
Materials that wick moisture away are made with fibres that have structures that naturally tend to repel moisture and prevent absorption. Common wicking materials are synthetic polyester and nylon, and of course, natural bamboo. Now bamboo is a plant, so why does it not absorb moisture? Well, it does, actually, but it’s unique fibres do not trap it. This is what makes is so special.
Synthetic fibres have a chemical structure similar to plastics, and they are usually treated to with a solution to prevent water absorption. They don’t let moisture in and therefore don’t get wet. When you sweat, the moisture stays on the surface of your skin or on the surface of the material until it evaporates by being exposed to the air. This can leave you with a sticky feeling for a while, and it’s not very comfortable, especially when you’re trying to relax and sleep.
Bamboo fibres give you the best of both worlds. They suck up sweat so it does not stay on your skin for any lengthy period, and they also release it onto the surface of the fabric so that it can evaporate. Moisture is drawn away from your skin to keep you cool and comfortable, and it is also allowed to evaporate so that your clothes and sheets stay dry.
Synthetic materials can be worn as a single layer and are good for when you’re exercising, but not very seemly when you’re sweating a lot at the office or on a date, and definitely not comfortable for sleeping. Bamboo material can also be worn as a single layer so you’re not wearing an extra layer that can make you feel hotter. Bamboo material, however, will not keep moisture on its surface and will therefore not make you look like you got hot tea poured over your body. Wicking materials also dry faster in heavy sweating conditions - and on the laundry line. Because they dry fast, they keep your body cool, and you don’t have to worry about drying your linens when it’s rainy outside.