Natural fibers are extracted from plants and animals, and synthetic fibers are obtained by artificial or man-made processes. While natural fibers are found on creatures like sheep and silk worms, synthetic threads must be produced using laboratory procedures. Examples of natural fibers are sheep’s wool and linen that comes from plants. Examples of synthetic fibers are acrylic and nylon.
Both natural and synthetic fibers are the fundamental components of all textiles. The cotton plant yields natural cotton fiber used in making clothes, clinical cotton wool and sanitary pads. Silk worms produce silk, and wool is obtained by shaving off bred sheep such as the Merino variety. Another natural fiber, linen, is obtained from the flax plant. Synthetic fibers are extracted from chemical sources. Nylon, acrylic and polyester are synthetic fibers that come from coal and oil. Viscose materials are obtained from petrochemicals. These types of fibers are spun into yarns that are either weaved or knitted into fabrics. While clothes made of natural fabrics are usually more comfortable to wear, those made of synthetic fabrics sometimes irritate the skin of the wearer. Naturally occurring fibers grow with their natural colors, but dyes and tints are frequently added to man-made fibers.