Article by Dana Jones, Hawaii, USA

Wool in the Tropics

Wool in the Tropics is not a new concept. It has been used successfully in every type of climate for centuries. Only in the recent age of scientific data and hype have people begun to ask for explanation and confirmation of what their predecessors took for granted. Wool is a natural fiber. It breathes, like all natural fibers. Unlike man-made carpets and rugs made from petroleum and oil-based products, wool does not react to heat and humidity like plastic products. Wool fiber can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture vapor without feeling damp. So, at times of high humidity, wool absorbs moisture and then releases this moisture again when the atmosphere is dry, acting as an atmospheric buffer.

In conditions of high humidity, generally found in the tropics, invariably it is the carpet backing that is first affected by mildew, mold, or fungus. Wool fiber is naturally quite mildew resistant, especially as it will tend to have a relatively low pH acid level. Backings for all carpets can now be treated to avoid the mold and mildew problems experienced in the past. Wool fiber also absorbs and neutralizes airborne chemicals and odors. This makes it especially important to those suffering from toxic and allergic reactions to plastics and carbon dioxide producing chemicals in the home. The fact that wool does not produce or add to these toxins and is a carbon neutral fiber qualifies it as a LEEDS (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified product for home and contract projects. Since it is produced by sheep and is also a renewable and biodegradable resource, it the perfect choice for an environmentally responsible homeowner or contract specifier.

In tropical climates, walking barefoot on wool carpet feels cooler, less sticky and more comfortable than synthetic fiber carpets. When wool releases moisture it feels (and is) cooler. Reducing condensation and humidity levels in the home is a natural for wool, which makes it a natural choice for a home in the tropics.