So, I’ve been suspicious for a while now about yarn made from “seacell,” mainly because everyone claims it has magical mystical properties and that the yarn smells like seaweed and blah blah blah. It doesn’t smell different to me and I think it feels a little bit like rayon. So, I looked it up.
I found out a lot with a little hardcore Googling. For example, on the SweetGeorgiaYarns blog, Felicia Lo summarizes Seacell neatly by saying that it’s “a new fibre made from seaweed via the Lyocell process. It’s the same process used to make Tencel, Bamboo, Viscose Rayon, and other cellulose fibres.”
She added a nice little link to SmartFiberAG, which produces the fiber, where in their company profile (unevenly translated from the German by an automated translator service) an interesting line jumped out:
The SeaCell® fiber of smartfiber is based on the Lyocell-System, which contains skin protective and anti-inflammatory seaweed as additive.
I was confused by the phrase “as additive” since I had been told repeatedly that seacell, unlike rayon and tencel, which are made from wood pulp, is made from seaweed, or kelp. I wondered if it was an error.
I delved deeper into Google’s mainframe and found the website of a spinning plant that apparently makes the seacell, and they described the process more in-depth.
The SeaCell® fiber was ground from natural seaweed, become less than micron granule, then add its powder into wood-cellulose NMMO solution … By way of Lyocell manufacturing process, turn into what seaweed element and cellulose form the SeaCell® fiber.
Another website, an English-speaking sleepwear company this time, backs up that statement by explaining in vaguer terms that:
A cellulose-based fiber is manufactured using the so-called Lyocell process. This Lyocell fiber then serves as the “functioning substrate” for the seaweed. Seaweed is added as the active substance.
So, is how much seaweed is actually in seacell? It sounds, from these sources I’ve culled through for information, that it’s mostly wood-cellulose fiber, akin to rayon, tencel or bamboo, that has had grains of seaweed sprinkled into the mixture while it was still in its chemically liquefied form. According to the The Knitters’ Book of Yarn, the additive of seaweed that is put into the cellulose fiber during its Lyocell process is five percent.
So, the seaweed is five percent, but if you add seacell fiber to something like, for example, sea silk, then the percentage for the yarn overall is different. So, I found my handy dandy calculator and did the math. In one skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk, which is 70 percent silk and 30 percent seacell, the actual amount of seaweed in the blended fiber is .015, or, 1.5 percent. So, there’s a little over one percent of seaweed in each skein of Sea Silk. This one percent of seaweed makes me highly doubt all of the advertising pitches about the magical, mystical qualities of seacell, such as the “healthy sea minerals” that get absorbed by your skin when you where something made of it. Please.
Also, and this may be a totally different vein, but is there that big of a difference between the different cellulose-based fibers made by these chemical processes? I’ve found several websites like this one that say that “rayon” is the generic term for fiber, yarn and fabric manufactured from “regenerated cellulose” by any one of the six processes that are currently being used today, which includes the Lyocell process. This sort of thing makes me wonder if we are all buying different marketing ploys, and that bamboo is rayon is tencel is seacell is viscose is corn, etc.