Rayon is NOT a natural fiber.
More Info: Though rayon may start out as a natural fiber, the chemicals through which it is processed transform it to a synthetic fiber.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines rayon as any of several synthetic textile fibers produced by forcing a cellulose solution through fine spinnerets and solidifying the resulting filaments.
Morris, William. The American Heritage dictionary. 2nd college ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982. Print.
What Is Rayon Made From?
Rayon is made from cellulose fiber converted into xanthate through chemical processes. Rayon is neither an entirely natural fiber nor an entirely synthetic one. This is because the cellulose from which rayon is originally derived is a natural fiber, but rayon requires extensive synthetic processing to be done to the cellulose in its production. The cellulose is extracted from wood or cotton pulp, although wood pulp is most common. The process for creating rayon contains numerous steps and involves multiple reactions with highly caustic chemical substances. The name for the manufacturing process of rayon is the viscose process.
Pros and Cons of Rayon
Rayon is a fabric that has the pros of being comprised of natural materials, but its cons stem from its impuissant structure. Rayon has been inexpensively produced from the natural cellulose of plants as an alternative to silk for centuries. It is easily dyed, drapes well and is incredibly versatile. Rayon can be knitted or woven and is used to make garments from evening gowns to rompers. With aging and wear, rayon may yellow, or its fibers may pill.
“Rayon Fiber – Rayon Staple Fiber, Rayon Textile Filament Fiber, Rayon Industrial Filament Fiber.” FiberSource: The Manufactured Fiber Industry. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. <http://www.fibersource.com/f-tutor/rayon.htm>.
“NONWOVEN FABRICS POLYESTER FIBERS.” web.utk.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. <http://web.utk.edu/~mse/Textiles/Polyester%20fiber.htm>.