Silk - Did you realise..?

August 27, 2014

I'm going to admit something... I had never really thought about where silk came from and how it was made.

A good friend of mine that I met through YouTube (Malin, check out her channel here) let me know via twitter that silk is made in a very cruel way and she started the ball rolling for me to do more research.

I was shocked at what I discovered. Read on or click here to watch my video.

Silk is (almost always) made from the cocoons that captive moth larvae spin. 

Once the cocoon is spun it (and the caterpillar/larvae that is inside it) are put into boiling water or blasted with steam. 

This usually kills the caterpillar although I have seen videos where the cocoons are 'jumping' in the water, presumably the caterpillar is still alive in the boiling water.

The cocoons are then unwound into long, single strands that can be woven into silk.

My initial reaction was 'why do the caterpillar have to be in the cocoon when it's unwound?' When I did a bit of research I found out that the 'official' reason is that the caterpillars secrete a certain chemical and destroy the cocoon too much when the come out of the cocoon. Also, if they are left in the cocoon for too long they will 'ruin' it with urine, etc.

Now, I know that this is an ancient process that has been part of many cultures for thousands of year so I respect local traditions but I have to say that I am disturbed by this process. What gives humans the right to take a beautiful living creature and kill it for clothing and vanity purposes?

I also cannot believe I went through 27 years of life without ever realising or being told how silk is made. When I used to think of silk the first words that would have to come to mind where luxury and decadence but now all that I can think is how disgusting and cruel the process is.  

If you want a video to watch on this process then I have linked one I found here. Depending on your tolerance levels and sensitivity then you may not want to watch it as you do see the larvae being boiled and unwound which I did not enjoy.

I personally will be avoiding silk where possible from now on. 

Did you know about this process? What are your thoughts on silk?

This post does not include any products sent for consideration.
The links are not affiliated.
All opinions are honest and my own, any suggestions made are based on my own experiences and are meant as a guide. Please always take care when making any DIY products and patch test to rule out an adverse reaction.


  1. This is just so, so horrible.
    I didn't realise either until we spoke about it and I've avoided silk since. Thank you for sharing the post though, I'm sure they'll be lots of people reading that weren't aware either xx

  2. It really is so cruel and disgusting. I can't believe I went so far in life without realising and that is so widely unknown.
    Rach xx

  3. I was somewhat disturbed to learn of this process recently too! It's a lot rarer, but you can also find cruelty free, peace silk, where the silk is harvested after the moth has emerged from its cocoon.

  4. omg thanks for opening my eyes to this! I seriously didn't know it was created like that! :-S I shall be avoiding silk from now on, too. Thank you Rachel for sharing this xx

  5. I had a look into that whilst doing my research for this post and there were some reports saying it's not actually that cruelty free but I think it sounds pretty good to me, better than the alternative anyway! Thanks for reading xx

  6. It's really horrible isn't it :-( I wish I'd known sooner but I am glad I can help bring this information to people. xx

  7. Oh, good to know. I was happy to find an alternative - not that I buy all that much silk to begin with - but I'll have to look into it some more. Thanks! :)

  8. Naomi Wilcox-Lee10 October 2014 at 13:56

    Wow, I only just discovered this too...(and I've gone 31 years without realising!) I was just looking into natural liquid eyeliners and saw that one by Logona won the Natural Health beauty awards last year ( ...but it has silk in it!
    It's so confusing trying to find products which tick all the boxes, that are all natural, organic if possible AND totally cruelty free. I think, as you showed recently with Lily Lolo, that even some of the best natural companies, who have the cruelty-free logo, are still exploiting animals in some part of their ingredients!

  9. It really is a minefield, you have to be so meticulous and particular... it's pretty much impossible at times. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment, lovely to hear from you :-) xx


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