Tencel is actually the brand name for a wood pulp type fiber product. However; the official definition from the Federal Trade Commision is under Lyocell. They call it a cellulose fabric that is obtained by an organic solvent spinning process and calls it a sub-category of rayon. Basically when you find spinning fiber or yarn that contains tencel or references tencel it is bleached wood pulp so you are in fact knitting or spinning...wood!
How is tencel made? To make tencel the mill starts with shipped hardwood logs into 3/4 inch squares. Then the chips are chemically reduced and the lignin is removed and this also softens the wood. The wood pulp is typically bleached at this stage and dried into a continuous sheet and rolled into spools. The Spools are then broken down into squares and dissolved with chemicals. The filtered cellulose solution is then shot through spinnerets which creates the thin fibers much like rayon. The Spinneret is like a showerhead with small holes and the tencel fiber shoots out creating lots of thin strands. Then the strands are set with an agent called amine oxide and the fiber is normalized and cleansed. Then the fiber goes through a drying process to evaporate the water from the strands. Finally a lubricant is applied depending on what the intended final use will be for the fiber.
The dried finished fibers a called "Tow" which is a large untwisted bundle of continuous lengths of filament. Then the tow is put through a crimping machine and carded. Now the fiber is spun into yarn or blended with other fibers soon to end up on the shelf of your local yarn shop or fiber store like Paradise Fibers!
By Travis Romine
Article ID: 6, Created On: 7/23/2012, Modified: 10/6/2012