I remember when my husband first told me about bamboo bedding. My initial thoughts were something along the lines of doubt and scoffing. However, when we tried out our first ever set of bamboo sheets with a good thread count, I was in heaven. I couldn’t believe how soft and comfortable they were. Usually when I first climb into bed my sheets make me feel cold, but the bamboo sheets didn’t do that. Nor did they get too hot in the night. They were perfect.
There was just one problem with them – the price. But, they happen to be the softest sheets ever.
So why exactly is bamboo bedding so expensive? And because it’s so expensive, why should you buy bamboo bedding rather than cotton or linen?
Extracting Bamboo Fibers is Expensive
Because bamboo is actually a woody grass, rather than a fibrous plant like cotton, extracting the fibers in such a way that they are able to be converted into fabric is more expensive. Generally, a steaming process is used, and then the bamboo trunks are mechanically crushed in order to extract the fibers. After the wood is mechanically crushed, a process called retting is employed: this is where micro-organisms and moisture are used to separate the fibers from the stem. It is the mechanical crushing of the bamboo that is the expensive part of this process.
Chemical Processes Used to Make Fabric Are Expensive
Bamboo fibers, in order to be made into the soft rayon fabric that we all know and love, must undergo quite a chemical process. It should be noted that all cellulose and viscose undergo strenuous chemical processes in order to produce the fabric that we are used to. Anything that doesn’t undergo these processes is bound to be scratchy and rough.
Bamboo fabrics have gotten a bad reputation thanks to the half-truths spread by organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission, but that’s a story for another day. The truth of the matter is that the processes used to make bamboo fabrics and to make other types of fabric are quite similar. They all must make use of harsh chemicals and undergo synthetic processes. But the production of bamboo rayon in reality is quite mild in comparison to the mistruths spread by those advocates of cotton and other plants. Regardless, however, the chemical processes that bamboo viscose must undergo are expensive.
Duties are Expensive!
The primary reason that bamboo bedding is so expensive is because right now the main manufacturers of bamboo bedding are all in China and the Far East. Shipping doesn’t actually cost all that much, but it is the duties leveraged by the countries into which the bedding is imported that are unbelievably expensive.
For this reason, the cost of bamboo bedding could be greatly decreased by the growing of bamboo and manufacturing of bamboo viscose in other parts of the world, such as Central and South America. Efforts are already being made in these areas, and the growing of bamboo there will not only facilitate cheaper bamboo products in the United States, but it will also increase job opportunity in places like Nicaragua and Guatemala, that could really use such a boost.
The bottom line is: bamboo bedding is expensive because of all the reasons discussed above, but ultimately still worth the cost because it lasts so long and is so much more comfortable than other types of bedding.