What are the materials used in fire-retardant clothes?

When your work brings you near fires, flames, and high temperatures, fire-retardant clothing is some of your most important gear. Fire-retardant clothes are made out of special materials that are designed to keep fires from spreading. These materials use several different techniques to prevent burns. Learn about the materials used in fire-retardant clothing as well as what keeps these fabrics from burning in this blog. Shop our flame resistant clothing here.

How do flame-retardant materials work?

No matter what the name sounds like, fire-retardant materials aren’t fireproof. These clothes are like most items and they will burn when the conditions are right. However, flame-retardant clothes do offer protection from high temperatures, thermal conditions, and intermittent flames. 

Flame-retardant materials use several different strategies to protect you.

  • Weave: Flame-retardant materials are made of heavy fibres that are woven tightly together. A tight, heavy weave will burn slower than light, loose fabric.
  • Fibre: Cellulose-based fibres like cotton, linen, and other natural fabrics are comfortable to wear but are also easy-burning. Flame-retardant materials either avoid these fibres or cover them in a chemical coating.
  • Coating: Flame-retardant chemical coatings are applied to protective fabrics. These chemicals interact with the gases and tars that are normally created during a fire. The coating converts these by-products into carbon char instead of allowing the fire to burn freely. This slows down and eventually puts out fires on the fabric.

What materials are fire-retardant?

Lots of materials have fire-retardant properties. You can find fire-retardant workwear for a range of purposes using these materials.

Treated cotton or nylon: Either 100% cotton or a cotton-nylon blend, this material is made by treating a pre-woven fabric with a chemical flame retardant. Treated fabrics resist abrasion and are ideal for utility, oil and gas, and chemical work.

Treated 100% rayon: Rayon is a man-made cellulose fibre that can be treated while fibres are formed. Treated rayon resists flames for the lifetime of the garment.

Treated cotton and Modacrylic: Modacrylic is a synthetic fabric that is almost flame-resistant. When blended with cotton, the resulting fabric offers a soft feel yet powerful resistance to flames, solvents, and chemicals.

Wool: Wool is a relatively flame-retardant choice, considering it’s an untreated natural fibre. Wool is slow to catch fire and may self-extinguish. It also has other useful properties that make it ideal for workwear, such as water resistance and some antimicrobial tendencies.

Nomex: Another synthetic fibre, Nomex is similar to Modacrylic. Nomex does not need to be blended with cotton to create a wearable fabric, although it can be combined with other materials for additional useful properties.

Kevlar: Kevlar is often used in protective clothing thanks to its strong fibres, but it also offers flame-resistant applications.

Get in touch

Eltham Workwear & Safety is a distributor and supplier of quality workwear and PPE to the UK market. Our head office is based in Dartford, with another branch in Portslade, Sussex. We offer both B2C and B2B solutions via our website and our dedicated sales staff. We deliver to London, Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Hertfordshire, and we use DHL for deliveries to the rest of the UK.Please get in touch with our friendly team if you need any advice or to speak about how we can help you with safety workwear. For an additional cost, we can even add your logo to all manner of garments and items, from caps and hardhats to fleeces and jackets using various methods of personalisation. Please click here to find out more.