Tencel (or Lyocell as it is more commonly known) and Viscose are both made from plants. They are composed of Cellulose (the chemical which gives plants their stiffness) that is then extracted to make a fibre. This plant-based chemical structure is what gives these textiles their desirable properties, such as a natural next-to-skin softness, breathability and good moisture management.
The differences between the two products come down to the manufacturing process and structure of the filament. Instead of using sodium hydroxide to extract the cellulose from the wood, a non-toxic organic compound called N-Methylmorpholine N-oxide (NMMO for short) is used for Tencel. This is easier to filter and re-use in a closed loop, which is better for the environment. This alternative production method creates an internal structure which is more uniform and improves Tencel’s ability to absorb water. Tencel is also only made from fast-growing Eucalyptus trees from sustainably managed forests.
Benefits of Tencel™
Eco-friendly production – 99.8% of the solvents used to convert wood pulp to TENCEL™ are recycled and reused over and over again. In viscose production, a harsh production process involving harmful chemicals such as sulphuric acid and Causic soda is required.
Colourfastness to light – Under ISO 6356, where a score of 8 showed no change and 1 showed severe change, Tencel scored 6 whereas viscose carpets score between 3 and 4.
Water Spillage– BS EN15115 (5 = no change to 1 = severe change). Tencel scored 4 whereas Pure viscose pile changes texture irrevocably and only scores around 2, unless blended with a harder wearing fibre such as wool.
Cleaning – Tencel floorcoverings can be professionally cleaned by dry or cold wet extraction methods as opposed to Viscose fibres which are fragile and difficult to clean.
Below is a stunning example of a Tencel collection named Crushed Velvet. Click on the link on each image to see more information.