One of my favorite experiences since working in the rug world is the feel of a soft, smooth silk rug. It’s one of the great draws to purchasing a silk rug over a wool rug. As time has gone by there has been an increase in fibers that are alternatives for silk, which begs the question, is your silk rug really silk? Now may be a good time to flip over that corner and have a look at the tag on the back and see what it says; “Art. Silk”, “Viscose”, “Faux silk” or any other set of words on it though it still has that feeling of a silk rug? Chances are it could be a regenerated fiber, most commonly known as Viscose Rayon. To make these types of fiber the cellulosic material of plants are turned into a paste and spun into fibers in an attempt to mimic the process of silk worms digesting mulberry leaves to make silk cocoons. This viscose process can be done on a wide variety of plants and vegetables to create fibers ranges from banana silk to cactus silk. While you can take your rug to a professional to identify the type of fiber in the rug, there are also ways of figuring out yourself to see if your rug is in fact silk. If you are brave enough you can cut out a single fiber from elongated part of the fringe or pull a knot off the back of the rug. From there you can perform a burn test and/or a chemical test. Silk rugs when burnt will have a jumpy flame, smell similar to hair, will also form soft beads, and dissolve in a chlorine bleach solution. Rayon fibers, being cellulosic, will burn quickly and create an orange flame. It will have a light smoke color and smell of burnt paper while also crumpling instead of forming beads. To dissolve rayon fibers you need a strong (hydrochloric) acid. As always, err on the side of caution when doing any of these tests and if you don’t feel comfortable doing either you can always come down to Carpet Care plus and we’ll take a look at your rug for you.