Since the demand for woolen cloth far exceeds the supply of new wool, there are many devices for making the supply go a long way, and consequently many methods for deceiving the buyer. The manufacturer seeks a material cheaper than the fiber he wishes to adulterate, one which can be concealed readily. Wool when combined with the cheaper cotton fiber makes a material which wears well, but does not keep its shape as well as all-wool cloth, is less warm, and should of course demand a lower price than all-wool. Because of the felting property of wool, it is quite possible to conceal a good deal of cotton under the surface of the woolen cloth, and when the fibers are mixed before the threads are spun, the task of detecting them becomes doubly difficult.
By the modern methods of manufacturing, cotton and wool mixtures are becoming much more satisfactory, and for certain types of garments, such as dresses and caps, where there is no particular strain on any part, the mixture has proved satisfactory. Only by combining fibers is the manufacturer able to meet the great demand for material. For an outer suit and an overcoat, nothing has been found more satisfactory than the all-wool material.
The most reliable tests for a mixture of cotton and wool are chemical or microscopic, but as these are not practicable for the average buyer, others must be sought. Wool has luster and kinks; the ends of the threads are stiff and look rather wiry. When a sample is carried home, burning will serve to distinguish between the two. Wool burns slowly, chars, has an odor of burnt feather, goes out easily, and leaves a crisp ash; cotton burns quickly with a flame, with little odor, and leaves no ash. A little practice in breaking the threads will help one to distinguish between the two; the difference is not one that can be easily explained, but the experienced housewife knows it well.J
* Univ. of III., Bull, 15, + Opus ait, Opus cit,