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margorand in geology

jadeite fibre?

Here's a question for all the geologists out there: I recently came across a knitting yarn claimed to be made from jadeite, specifically from jadeite powder left over in the jewellery manufacturing process. Now, is jadeite a mineral that can form fibres, like asbestos? And if it does, can it be transformed from a powder form to a fibrous form? I have my doubts about these manufacturer's claims (and am thinking they may be mixing the powder with acrylic in order to make a usable yarn). Any insight on this would be much appreciated, thank you!


Jadeite can form fibers, but I really struggle to imagine it as a yarn, without a lot of processing and perhaps magic.
The yarn in question is supposedly only 30% jadeite, with the rest being silk and wool. Still, I'm skeptical about the jadeite fibres being pure jadeite (I've also read reports of rashes and allergic reactions from working with the yarn). The manufacturer refuses to answer my inquiries as to whether the jadeite has been mixed with anything, alas!
I imagine the same color could be achieved using dyes, which would seriously lower the production cost of this yarn. I imagine they are not answering your questions because they don't want you to steal their formula.
They're marketing the inclusion of jadeite fibre not for its colour (the yarn comes in a variety of colours), but for its supposedly "therapeutic" effects--eg, the Chinese believe jade brings peace and harmony to one's life, etc.

I'm sure they're not willing to reveal any trade secrets, for sure, but they're also known for their reticence to answer ANY questions. ;)
Jadeite is a pyroxene, so although it can form with an acicular, fibrous habit, it is too brittle to form fibres which are flexible and spinnable like the fibrous amphiboles. If they were working with nephrite jade (an amphibole), and somehow recrystallising the dust into fibrous amphibole, and spinning it, yeah, I'd beleive it. And then I'd avoid it due to the hazard of asbestosis and mesothelioma which is associated with inhaling fibres of fibrous amphibole...
Thanks, that does seem to confirm my suspicious that they're not spinning fibre from the jadeite powder (unless, as you said, it's nephrite, which might explain the rashes and difficulty breathing people have reported after working with the yarn...).
It is fairly common to reprocess the chip and dust from some semi-precious stones into marketable products. The usual habit is to powder the material and mix it with a high hardness resin or similar binder to make a low grade, uniform textured and coloured replica of the source stone - I've seen this done with turquoise, amber, lapis lazuli, etc. There's a long and dishonorable trade history of making such 'paste' jewels (I'm thinking of experimenting with some of the medieval recipes for such, which are downright cool, if likely to dissolve in heavy rain). However, if they're using the plain powder, they've got to be either just sticking it to the silk and wool, in which case it will be an abrasive irritant, and likely to shed the powder, or they're mixing it with acrylic, spinning fibre from that, and then mixing it with the wool/silk when the yarn is spun. The second would be safer, as then the jade powder would be bound as a colourant in the acrylic, and relatively unlikely to have health affects unless they had to use something other than acrylic for some reason, and it's unstable.
Interesting. The reason why I'm thinking they're using acrylic is the warning on the label not to iron the yarn--this is common on acrylic yarns, and never seen on wool, silk, or other natural fibres. The company that makes the yarn also produces a number of synthetic "natural" fibres, such as lyocell-type fibres made from bamboo and soy, and PLA made from corn (PLA in particular has a very low melting point). Perhaps they're using one of these in place of acrylic, and it's less stable?

At any rate, glad to see my suspicions were confirmed--thanks for your insight.
If it is jadeite - an aphibole related quite closely to asbestos and crysotile - you could ion it with a blowtorch. Cough cough.
Given these are hippies it's probably not jadeite sensuo stricto, but nephrite they are talking about. Nephrite is a tremolitic amphibole. Cough cough.
Mmm. There's an awful lot of 'jade' out there that isn't either of the two traditional jades - Jadeite pyroxene and Nephrite amphibole. I've seen Bowenite, Serpentinite, various steatites, etc, sold as 'jade'
Its a lure for hippies. I wouldn't want to wear an amphibole-laced sweater.
Hey, I'm a hippie! Although I bathe.. and think tofo is disgusting...

But I agree, I'd skip the yarn and buy a nice jade pendant. I can't think of any way that rock dust imbedded yarn is a good thing.
Oh, it can be a very good thing. POW's in WWII managed to escape at one point by using yarn from their socks, into which they had mixed soap and quartz sand scraped from the cell walls and floors, as an abrasive to cut the bars on a cell window. Slow, but effective when nothing else is available. Similar methods have been used by jail escapees as well.
Not a geologist but my 2 cents:

I'd be very surprised if they were going to the time and effort to grow mineral fibers even if they could. I also have trouble seeing how they'd make a fine polymer strand with powder in it.
I'd sooner think they were glassifying it* and drawing it out into something like fiber-optic thread or even plain old fiberglass, which would explain the itching. (I've actually seen stuff knit from that)
If they're selling in the US, they may be required by law to list the materials in it somewhere, especially since there's a health concern. It might be worthwhile getting in touch with the Better Business Bureau or equivalent consumer protection agency where you are even if you're not buying any.

*Highly technical term.

March 2011

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