What is Lanolin and how is it used?
Being a wool processing mill, we are all too familiar with lanolin and its properties. That’s a fascinating part about wool, it has so many versatile and technical benefits and the sheep are who to thank for it.
A jar of unrefined wool grease (once purified, it becomes lanolin)
What is lanolin?
Lanolin is a precious oil secretion from sheep’s skin that is trapped in the wool. This oil helps to protect and nourish the sheep from extreme climates and environments. For example, lanolin has waterproofing properties, aiding in the shedding of water from their coat. It also helps to protect the wool and skin from extreme climates and environments. It’s a natural moisturizer for the sheep’s skin. Since it becomes trapped in the wool, it stays in the wool after being sheared and can be extracted through centrifugal separation at specialized facilities.
In our eco-friendly process, we wash our wool once it goes into production, called scouring. It goes through several hot bowls of 150 degrees; after each bowl, it's run through a rolling press, squeezing out the grease and oil from the raw wool. While we don’t extract the lanolin to purify and use it, we run the oil-water through our water waste system. We utilize micro-biology to create sludge (microbes use the grease as a food source) to use for compost or other landscaping methods.
Raw wool being scoured
What’s lanolin used for?
Many companies will use purified lanolin to create personal care products that they can sell. Because of the emollient properties, lanolin is used to make many products such as: baby oil, diaper rash products, lip balm, lotions, skin creams, medicated shampoos, shave creams, and moisturizers for nursing mothers.
We keep some lanolin in the wool that we process, to add a layer of moisturizing properties to the wool and garments we knit. It revitalizes the wool and keeps it fresh and protected!
Interesting Fact – Most people, when they mention they're allergic to wool, are allergic to lanolin within the wool.
Obviously, we’re wool fans and have learned so much about the amazing properties it provides. Lanolin is another fascinating property that occurs naturally and is renewable each year when a sheep grows a new coat of wool.