The Fabric Burn Test

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Burning a fabric swatch is a simple way to test any fabric’s fiber content. Here’s how to burn and read the ashes for 10 common fiber types.
 
You can usually immediately detect the presence of a synthetic in the ash of a fabric that appears to be all natural. Synthetic fibers, except rayon and Tencel (which are derived from cellulose), react differently from natural fibers: They melt, most turning into a hard bead. Natural fibers all leave a soft or crushable residue.