Monday, April 13, 2015

Introducing the new Wool Dryer Discs!

Wool Dryer Discs: a project that's been a few months in the making.  When I first read about using salt in the dryer to reduce static, I wanted to try it and see if it was all the rage the author (and others) spoke of.  Most recommended using a muslin bag tied shut.  I have tons of cotton fabric scraps, so it was quick and easy to make a little bag for the salt.  I used pink Himalayan salt. 
I've been using wool dryer balls, which are nice, but don't eliminate as much static as I'd like them to.  They do help cut down drying time, though, because of their ball shape.  So, out went the dryer balls and in went the bag of salt . . . and it WORKED.  Then it began to work a little less, and a little less.  In the article I read, the author mentions the same thing happened and recommended wetting the bag of salt before putting it in the dryer with the wet clothes.  I did that, and it worked again . . . until I realized the salt was dissolving with each wetting and eventually I had an almost empty cotton bag. 
So, I thought, I like the wool dryer balls, and I LOVE the salt, now how to combine the two?  Salt is heavy, and I felt balls of salt would beat the clothes too much, especially smaller loads.  And if using yarn, the wool would have to be felted in order for the ball to stay together well.  But felting requires water, which would dissolve the salt.  Then I started to look into wool fabrics, and found some lovely upcycled wool in a beautiful light sage green.  Perfect! 

Wool Dryer Discs
A little experimentation with sewing, and the Wool Dryer Discs were born. Their disc shape helps distribute the salt's weight. Next up was trying out different combinations between using the discs by themselves and also in conjunction with the wool dryer balls. After all was said and done, the best ratio was 6 Wool Dryer Discs with 2 wool dryer balls. The Wool Dryer Discs do a better job reducing static, and the wool dryer balls help reduce drying time. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and acrylic will always have a little static, but it can be greatly reduced by using a combination of Wool Dryer Discs and wool dryer balls. 

I have noticed the resulting dryer lint is less fluffy than usual, which is an interesting side effect.  I don't know why the salt bag by itself worked and then worked less, unless it had to do with being in a cotton bag rather than using wool.  I have not had the same experience using the wool dryer discs, so my assumption is that it has something to do with the fabric used, as wool is already naturally anti-static.

Now as best I can figure out, the science behind it goes something like this: using the Wool Dryer Discs in the dryer cycle heats up the salt, like a pink Himalayan salt lamp. When the salt heats, it naturally generates negative ions. Salt is also hygroscopic (it attracts water). As the clothes are tumbling in the heated dryer, the constant tumbling (where the materials repeatedly come into contact) creates static electricity; an imbalance in positively and negatively charged ions. As the salt is heated, the naturally generated negative ions attract the positive ions and neutralize them, thereby reducing static electricity. 

I do believe the salt will eventually completely dissolve in the wool dryer discs (as is the nature of salt with water), but the wool dryer discs will last much longer if not dipped in water. Using the above 6:2 combination, my laundry has been much easier to work with. :)

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