Originally Posted by RJman
Brigg umbrella, allegedly silk but the seller states that he knows it is silk because he snipped a little bit from the inside of the umbrella and burnt it (!). Caveat ebayor.
But, that's how it's done. I have a 1946 book with a section on the Burning Test. It begins:
A business acquaintance asked a retail buyer why he carried a cigarette lighter, since he did not smoke. The buyer told his friend that he always carried a lighter in order to identify the fibers in the manufacturer's samples. He was never satisfied until he had tested new fabrics and determined for himself the fiber content.
"Pure cellulose rayon (vegetable)" would have yarns that burn "very rapidly," smell like burning "paper or rags," and leave "very slight ash."
"Pure silk (animal)" would have yarns that burn "slower than vegetable fibers of similar weight" with the odor of burning "animal matter" (?) and leave "gummy balls or beads."
"Nylon (man-made, protein-like)" should burn "and fuse or melt" with the odor of "boiling string beans" (!) and leave "hard, glossy globules."
The only fiber listed in this source that would burn & smell like burning hair is wool. This makes the seller's description somewhat confusing to me.