Woman's hand on pink silk sheet

The Complete Guide to Mulberry Silk

Looking for the perfect sheets, pillowcases, eye masks or pyjamas can be overwhelming with all the different options available. If you're in search of something truly luxurious, Mulberry silk should be at the top of your list.

This strong, fine fabric has been a favourite of the wealthy and influential for centuries, and it's not hard to see why. From its unique history to its numerous benefits for style, beauty, and health, Mulberry silk is a top-quality choice you should consider.

In this article, we've compiled a complete guide to everything you need to know about this amazing fabric.

 

Table of Contents

What Is Mulberry Silk?
Where Does Mulberry Silk Come From?
The Cost Of Mulberry Silk
Benefits of Using Mulberry Silk
Quality Of Mulberry Silk
Manufacturing of Mulberry Silk
Ethics

What Is Mulberry Silk?

Mulberry silk is a luxurious type of silk made from the cocoons of the silkworms of the Bombyx Mori moth. It is well-known for its high quality, soft feel and shimmering appearance. Bombyx Mori silkworms feed on leaves from the White Mulberry tree resulting in consistent, high-quality silk that's white in colour.

Once the silkworms are 5-8 weeks old, they'll start creating a cocoon made of pure silk thread. Completed cocoons are then collected, carefully unwound and turned into various silk products. 

Mulberry silk cocoons alongside mulberry silk products including mulberry silk pillowcases and mulberry silk eye masks

Image: White Mulberry Silk Cocoons by Quang Nguyen Vinh. Examples of Mulberry Silk Products made by Snooze Foundry.

 

Where Does Mulberry Silk Come From?

Although around 60 countries around the world have a silk industry, the vast majority of Silk is produced in China (58%) and India (37%).

 

The Cost Of Mulberry Silk

Is Mulberry Silk Expensive?

Mulberry silk is one of the most expensive fabrics money can buy. You can expect to pay a hefty price for any product containing 100% Mulberry Silk.

 

Why Is Mulberry Silk So Expensive?

Mulberry silk is expensive because each silkworm only produces a small amount of silk fibre. On average, it takes between 2,000 to 3,000 cocoons to generate 1lb of mulberry silk.

Production is a labour-intensive process. Silkworms must be carefully raised and fed a specific diet of mulberry leaves to produce the finest silk fibres. Once the worms spin their cocoons, the silk must be carefully extracted, cleaned, and spun into thread. Finally, the thread must be woven into fabric, which requires skill and expertise. All of these steps contribute to the cost of mulberry silk.

 

6 Benefits of Using Mulberry Silk

1. Environmentally Friendly & Natural

One of the best benefits of Mulberry silk is that it's environmentally friendly. The silkworms are raised entirely on leaves from mulberry trees, which absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and act as carbon sinks.

2. Biodegradable

Unlike synthetic materials, raw mulberry silk is completely natural and biodegradable, although this can be affected by dyes or chemicals used in the production process.

3. Better for Skin

Mulberry silk is less absorbent compared to materials like cotton, meaning it removes less applied moisturiser and removes less of your natural oils. This means that after sleeping on mulberry silk the chances are you'll have more moist, better looking skin.

3. Durable

Mulberry silk is a strong and durable fabric that can withstand wear and tear.

4. Better for Quality Sleep

Pure Mulberry Silk is so comfortable it enhances sleep quality - which is why you'll see many luxury hotels using mulberry silk bedsheets and pillowcases in their top-end suites.

5. Better for hair

Mulberry silk can help you maintain better-looking hair as its smoothness reduces friction significantly, thereby reducing the risk of breakage. Mulberry silk is frequently used on those who want stronger hair or have varying hair textures such as curly and kinky hair. 

6. Moisture-wicking

Mulberry silk has the ability to wick away moisture, making it a good choice for people who get warm at night, or are in hot environments

  

Is Mulberry Silk Better Than Other Silks?

Mulberry silk is generally considered superior to other silks, which is why most silk comes from silkworms fed on mulberry leaves. However, it can also be collected from other sources, including honeybee larvae, clams, spiders, and even goats. Although you won't be seeing goat-silk on the shelves any time soon you can purchase Tussar Silk made by the Antheraea genus moth, Eri Silk produced by Samia ricini caterpillars and Muga Silk produced by the Assam silkmoth.

Tussar, Eri and Muga silk are all used to make traditional Indian garments such as sarees and dupattas. Eri silk and is heavier and less soft than mulberry silk but is known for its durability and tear-resistance. Tussar silk has a more textured appearance and gold amber colour, which makes it harder to die. Muga silk has a unique golden colour, is produced only in Assam and has been preferred by Indian royalty for centuries.

Although each has its pros and cons, mulberry silk is generally considered the ultimate silk owing to its softness, glossy shine and high durability. This is why it's by far the most popular, accounting for 70% of all silk produced in India in 2018-19 and around 90% of silk produced in China.

Quality Of Mulberry Silk

Most people choose Mulberry silk because it's one of the highest quality silks available on the market. Not only is it a durable material, but it's soft and smooth to the touch.

But not all Mulberry Silk is the same. Silk comes in different weights, referred to as Momme, ranging from 3 to 30.

 

How Can I Tell If Silk Is Real Or Fake?

There are a number of ways to test if silk is real or fake.

1. How it looks

Real silk refracts light at different angles, creating different colours as the material bends and twists. If the colour looks flat all over, it's probably not silk. Here's an example of an authentic Mulberry Silk pillowcase. Look at the way the light shimmers and shines as it bounces of the draped material - it's stunning!

Draped mulberry silk pillowcase

Once you've purchased real mulberry silk products - like the ones stocked Snooze Foundry - you'll be able to spot the difference instantly.

2. Price

High grade mulberry silk is one of the most expensive materials money can buy. If the price is "too good to be true" it probably is... sorry!

3. The Burn Test

This one is a bit extreme, so it's not for everyone. But it's very reliable, and is in fact one of the methods used by labs that do professional material testing. At Snooze Foundry we do a burn test on every silk product we sell. To do this one you need to take 3 threads from a piece of the material, twist them together and light with a flame. Take adequate fire precautions here, obviously, like doing this over a sink and waiting for material to cool before touching it.

Synthetic Material

Synthetic material made from polyester or nylon smells like plastic when burning and melts when it approaches a flame. It burns quite easily and when the flame goes out you'll have a hard black lump remaining.

Cellulose-based Imitation Silks

Rayon, lyocell and other wood-based fabrics behave like paper when burnt. They burst into flame and have a smoke that smells like paper when burnt.

Real Silk

Real silk shrinks from the flame and smoulders rather than burning quickly. Sniff the smoke and you'll smell burning hair. The remaining residue will be black, soft and brittle, crumbling into ash between your fingers. 

 

Is Mulberry Silk Satin?

Satin refers to a type of weave, not a material. A satin weave usually leaves the material with a glossy, soft top finish and a dull matt underside. In ancient China satin was made exclusively from real silk in China. So chances are your mulberry silk product was woven using a satin weave.

However, times have changed. Today most manufacturers using the term "satin" are referring to a product made with synthetic materials. Less-than-reputable sellers might try to fob you off with a 'silk satin' 'silky' material that is in fact synthetic in nature whilst burying this detail deep down in the product description. Worse, fraudsters often label materials as silk when it's a synthetic or cellulose-based material (see below for how to identify the difference).

If you can't find the material specified, there's a strong chance it's not mulberry silk.
 

Care of Mulberry Silk

Mulberry silk requires some special care and attention due to its natural properties. Check our guide on how to wash mulberry silk pillowcases for more info!

 

Manufacturing of Mulberry Silk

How Is Mulberry Silk Made?

The manufacture of silk is known as sericulture. The process starts off by growing mulberry leaves. Adult moths of Bombyx mori lay larvae, that hatch and feed continuously on mulberry leaves.

Then those larvae begin to emit saliva, which solidifies into silk filament when it hits the air. The larvae spin round and round, continuously emitting silk filament to create the wonderful white cocoons of raw silk.

Silkworms (bombyx mori) and silk cocoons

Image by Quang Nguyen Vinh: Silk worms (bombyx mori) making silk cocoons.

The larvae are killed through heat, sunlight or boiling, leaving the silk fibre material which is carefully unravelled into a single long filament.

The filaments are processed and spun into raw white silk threads, which are then woven on looms to produce silk cloth. The cloth can then be dyed, cut and sewn to make the gorgeous silk products we're all familiar with.

 

What Sorts Of Products Can You Make With Mulberry Silk?

Mulberry silk can be made into a variety of products, from clothing to bedding. In the past, it was mainly used for religious purposes and in monasteries, but today it's available to use for health, beauty, and home products.

Ethics

Is Mulberry Silk Ethical?

In traditional silk harvesting, the silk manufacturers boil the cocoon with the worm still inside of it so that there is no breakage of the long strand of silk inside. However, there are less harmful alternatives to the silk-making process, such as the "peace silk" method, which lets the moth leave the cocoon before it's boiled.  

 

Is Mulberry Silk Vegan?

No, Mulberry silk is not vegan because it's made using the silkworm. So if you're looking for a 100% vegan product, we'd recommend checking out alternatives such as a eucalyptus vegan silk pillowcase or high-quality cotton. 

 

What products are commonly made with Mulberry Silk?

Understanding Mulberry silk is a great way to improve your knowledge of luxury products. It's one of the finest types of silk available on the market today, and it has a ton to offer in terms of benefits. Mulberry silk is natural, luxurious, and perfect for people who are conscious about what they put on their bodies.

So if you're ready to try out silk products, browse through our full line of products at Snooze Foundry to find the quality and indulgence that you deserve. Here are a few fabulous examples:

 

Silk pillowcase, pillow spray and silk eye mask

A Snooze Foundry Mulberry Silk Pillowcase with an italian silk sleep mask

 

Zebra mulberry silk eye mask

A zebra print Mulberry Silk Sleep Mask 

  

A mulberry silk headbandA Silk Headband Hair Accessory

 

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Written by Joe Rinaldi Johnson

Joe Rinaldi Johnson is the CEO of Snooze Foundry - writing about sleep, bedding, beauty and health. Joe holds a degree from in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University and currently works for Shopify as a Senior Product Lead.

Disclaimer

Snooze Foundry's content is for informational purposes only and doesn't constitute medical advice. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult a medical professional in an emergency, or if you have concerns about your health. Don't avoid seeking medical advice based on something you read on Snooze Foundry.

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