© 2017-2020 TenCate Protective Fabrics.
All Rights Reserved.

About FR Fabrics

Inherent vs Chemical Treated

By Dominique Adams
Development Engineer, Industrial Safety

Clearly defining certain words is important to this discussion. Here are two definitions on can easily find by putting them into a search engine or opening up a dictionary.

Inherent /inˈ her ənt/

adjective Existing in something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, characteristic or attribute. The inherent dangers of mountain climbing.

Treated /trēt ed/

verb, past tense of treat To subject an object to a process (especially chemical) to alter it, often temporary. Treat the cloth with bleach.

The flame resistance in inherent FR Fabric is “Permanent and inseparable”

Even with a scrap of fabric, it remains flame resistant for all time.

If one removed the flame-resistance from inherent fabric, the material no longer exists in usable form. This is not necessarily true with chemically treated fabrics.

With inherently FR fabrics, any and all pieces and parts of the fabric remain flame resistant.

If it’s buried and dug up a hundred years from now, it would still be flame resistant.

Treated FR fabrics begin with cotton fiber, which is inherently flammable.

Sometimes to make the cotton more durable and cheaper, it’s blended with nylon or polyester —

a plastic-based fiber that’s also inherently flammable that could melt to the wearer’s skin if exposed to a flash fire. Often these blends are with 88 percent cotton and 12 percent nylon or polyester, which is from where the term “88/12” comes.

Once the cotton or cotton blend fabric is made, it’s treated with a chemical flame retardant to prevent the flammable fabric from going up in flames. That chemical additive may not be permanent.

As for inherently FR fabrics, the flame resistance remains and will not wash or wear out,

although proper care is always encouraged. For example, using chlorine bleach with an inherent FR fabric might fade the appearance and reduce strength, but the fabric remains flame resistant.

Where Protection Comes From

Flame resistant (FR) fabrics are especially engineered to make sure that end users are protected from exposure to thermal events.

In the Industrial, military and fire service markets, FR fabrics are an essential part of any personal protective equipment (PPE) ensemble. Any end user who has to go into harm’s way or face the risk of flash fires and electric arcs will definitely need to have FR fabrics. TenCate Protective Fabrics is the world’s leading manufacturer of FR fabrics and takes its leadership role very seriously. All the fabrics made by TenCate are inherently FR, meaning that the very fibers of which the fabric is woven are themselves FR. This ensures that the FR protection will last and never wash or wear out. Some other FR fabrics, such as chemically-treated FR cotton, use a chemical “finish” that is applied after the fabric is made to give it FR properties. This finish may wash off after repeated launderings or wear away over time. Each TenCate FR fabric is designed to fill a role in the marketplace and fit the needs of end users for a given application. TenCate Protective Fabrics performs every step of the production; from fiber to finished fabric.