The Burn Test for Carpet: How to Tell What Carpet is Made Of
Have you ever had to
remove a spot from carpet? How did you know what kind of cleaner to use?
If you want to
remove carpet spots from your customers' carpets, then don't just "wing it" by
using any old stain remover because you could end up with more problems than you
bargained for. Depending on the type of spot it is and what the carpet is made
out of, you'll need to choose your spotter carefully.
In order to
identify the type of carpet you're dealing with, you can do what's called the
"burn" test for carpet. This is where you cut a small piece of carpet fiber from
an inconspicuous place such as a closet, and actually burn the fiber to see how
it reacts to the flame. Here are the results you can expect:
Polyester: Orange flame that sputters, burns
rapidly and melts. The smoke is black and it leaves a hard, black bead that is
round and shiny. It smells like sweet, overripe fruit.
Olefin: Orange-tipped flame with a blue
base, burns rapidly. The fiber melts leaving a smooth, round bead-like ash. It
smells like asphalt or hot tar.
Acrylic: White-orange flame that sputters as
it burns and leaves an irregular black hard ash. The smoke is black and it
smells like burning meat.
Nylon: Orange-tipped flame with a blue base,
the fiber melts and extinguishes itself. It smells like celery or sealing wax.
It has a smooth, round bead-like ash.
Rayon: Orange flame, burns rapidly. Rayon
burns but leaves no ash or bead. It smells like burning paper.
Cotton: Orange or yellow flame that smells
like burning paper. The ash is irregular and gray, and crumbles
Orange flame that burns slowly. There is no smoke,
it doesn't melt, and smells like burning hair. The ash is black and crumbles
Silk: Steady flame, smells like burning hair
and leaves little or no ash.
After doing the
burn test, you should have a good idea of what the carpet is made out of.
Depending on the type of carpet you're dealing with, you'll know how it reacts
with different types of spot removers. Having this information is important so
you don't cause more problems by using the wrong spot remover.
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Steve Hanson helps owners of small cleaning companies build a more profitable and successful cleaning business through his online community at TheJanitorialStore.com. Read inspirational cleaning success stories at http://www.cleaning-success.com, and sign up for weekly cleaning tips at http://www.TheJanitorialStore.com.