An extremely useful test if you are not quite sure what a fabric is. Knowing the inherent properties is important, especially if you’re making something for a bedroom or a letting property. Unlike most quality tests, you can do this one yourself at home on a small test piece. Be careful. Hold the burning fabric over a sink or tray with some water nearby for safety.
Cotton: burns steadily and smells of burning leaves. The ash crumbles easily.
Linen: takes longer to ignite than cotton. The fabric closest to the ash crumbles easily, and the flame can be blown out, just as you would a candle.
Silk: burns readily and smells of burning hair. It is more difficult to extinguish than either cotton or linen.
Wool: difficult to ignite, it burns steadily and slowly, and tries to self extinguish. It smells of burning hair, which, of course, it is.
Rayon: burns rapidly and leaves only slight ash, it smells of burning leaves.
Acrylic: burns readily, smells acrid and leaves a hard ash.
Nylon: melts and then burns rapidly smelling of burning plastic.
Polyester: melts and burns simultaneously, the ash bonds quickly to any surface; it smells sweet with a black smoke.
Acetate: burns with a flickering flame that cannot be easily extinguished. The burning cellulose drips to a hard ash; it smells of burning wood.
see also fireproofing flammability