Fabric made from milk

Fabric made from milk?…

Think twice before you throw away your spoiled milk!  Rather than stinking up your trash can, that milk could become a t-shirt!

Milk fabric has been around since the 1930’s but a new chemically free process has been developed by a biochemist / fashion designer, Anke Domaske, to turn these milk fibers into fashion. This German based company, QMilch, has developed a fabric that is completely made from wasted milk. The fabric is soft, sustainable and non-allergenic.

Fabric made from milkBack in the 1930’s, “Aralac” fabric was a synthetic wool made from dairy cheese.  In World War II when wool became scarce, a process was developed to turn the casein protein in milk to behave like wool protein.  Fabric made from milk was done by mixing acid with skim milk to extract the casein protein where it was then evaporated to crystals, pulverized, and dissolved into a molasses consistency. Then it was forced through spinnerets similar to macaroni and into a hardening chemical bath where it was cut into the necessary fiber length.  Although casein is not exactly cheese, it is the protein that turns that milk into cheese by clumping it and solidifying it together.  Hence, Aralac was a cloth made from cheese.

The process to make the QMilch yarn is similar to the way Aralac was made by using the milk protein, however the process is very unique by not having to use chemicals to break the protein down and extract the fibers.  The process to make QMilch fabric is a pretty simple method.  Milk is fermented and turned into a powder.  After the milk is powdered it is then heated and mixed with other natural ingredients, turning it into yarn.

Seeing that every year, millions of tons of spoiled milk are discarded, producing this fabric is a great alternative to throwing it in the trash!  Although, don’t expect to see milk-made clothing on your department store racks anytime soon as this fabric is still quite costly; coming in around $30 per kilo to produce, compared to $3.8 kilo for cotton yarn.  The cost may be surprising seeing it only takes two liters of water to produce, whereas it takes 20,000 liters of water to produce cotton.

Food for thought…


By: Juliet Mann, CNN


Maggie Koerth-Baker




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