I tried out some milk protein fiber recently. I had to wonder after my experience with corn fiber how much of it was actually still milk and how much manufacturing it went thru.

milk protein fiber

Here is a bit of history:” Milk fiber was invented in 1930’s in Italy and America to compete wool. The fiber known as ARALAC, Lanatil, Merinova all different brands for the same fiber manufactured from milk casein fell victim to their minor flaws and the war. “( from Euroflax website)
Now for the scientific part: It seems that at it’s humble beginnings they use the skim milk that is left from butter making. Casein, the principal protein of milk, is essentially the same as cottage cheese. It is a relatively pure protein and is available commercially in large amounts. So does this mean we could manufacture this fiber?
Casein for making fibers must have a high degree of purity.  The preparation of a suitable spinning solution is the first stage in the production. The casein is dissolved in water that contains about 2 percent by weight of alkali to make a viscous solution with 20 to 25 percent protein. The next step is to pump the filtered casein solution by a metering pump through a platinum-gold alloy disc, or spinneret. The solution, streaming from the holes of the spinneret, is immersed in water that contains an acid. The acid neutralizes the alkali used to dissolve the casein. The small, continuous fibers are then stretched, treated in various solutions, and collected by the spinning machinery.
 OK this is definitely not something I could not do at home. I am now wondering an alkali and an acid , how green is this “green” fiber? I couldn’t find much on what  alkali they are using it could be baking soda for all I know.  I second part the acid and strengthener so to speak used to be formaldehyde and aluminum salts. EWww not something I would want to spin. However manufacturing techniques have changed a little bit since the 1930’s and now this fiber has the  Oeko-Tex Standard 100 green certification. So what changed?

One thing that changed is they took out the formaldehyde and and added acrylonitrile (AN). I first thought I’m not sure one is better than the other. But then I took another look at AN. “Acrylonitrile is the key ingredient in the acrylic fiber used to make clothing and carpeting…telephone and computer casings and sports equipment; and in nitrile rubber, which is used in the manufacture of hoses for pumping fuel. Acrylonitrile is used to produce plastics that are impermeable to gases and are ideal for shatterproof bottles that hold chemicals and cosmetics, clear “blister packs” that keep meats fresh and medical supplies sterile, and packaging for many other products. It is also a component in plastic resins, paints, adhesives, and coatings” (The American Chemistry Society). So we touch AN everyday so it must be fairly safe. Basically today’s Milk fiber is a combination of Milk Protein and Acrylonitrile, because it is a regenerated protein fiber it acts more like wool than plant fibers. This means that hopefully it should dye like wool.


In other news the winner of  the Guess the Butterfly Contest is Tal HadaniPease. You had the first correct response of Old World Swallowtail. Congratulations!!!! I’vc sent you an email to get the mailing specifics and your colorway of choice. Here are all the coloways in the shop right now. From left to right top to bottom they are : Silver-spotted skipper, white-rayed pixie, gilbert’s flasher, monarch, pipevine swallowtail, rocky mountain parnassium.

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4 Comments on Oh The Fiber- Milk Protein Part 1

  1. vigneshkumar says:

    thank you deyaneria… this article very useful for knowing about milk fibre… and also useful for my studies…

  2. gayan says:

    thanks a lot about that.but i want to know futher details such as history,type of milk used for that..

    • Deyaneria says:

      They use regular cow’s milk usually skim I believe. The entire history as I could find it is here:)